NFL Protest: ‘Mom, What Does ‘Taking A Knee’ Mean?’

Print icon

The latest hot social media trend — NFL players and other athletes “taking a knee” during the national anthem in a show of solidarity after recent comments by President Trump — has parents scrambling on what to tell their kids.

How do parents espouse family values while at the same time allowing kids to have their own opinions on topics of note?

“It’s a matter of developmental perspective,” says child and adolescent psychologist Dr. Laura Saunders from Hartford Hospital’s Institute of Living. “What you say to a young child might be different from what you’re saying to your middle-schooler or high-schooler.”

The current social media kerfuffle over professional athletes and team owners “taking a knee” is an opportunity to look at the situation and try to understand both sides, according to Dr. Saunders.

“This is an opportunity to talk about what the First Amendment is,” she said. “It’s an opportunity to talk about free speech. Look at these as teaching moments.”

Help your kids navigate the current clash of politics, sports and culture with more tips from Dr. Saunders:


  • How do you wish to convey your family values to your children while giving them the opportunity to form their own opinion?
  • Respect the decisions of others.
  • Have them understand that, for some people, “taking a knee” is a form of protest against our president. Talk with them openly about whether it is OK to go against what our president is saying.


  • Discuss our freedoms and the First Amendment.
  • Take another person’s perspective. (“We believe it’s best to do X, but why would someone else see it differently?”)
  • Are NFL players role models? For their athleticism or other reasons?
  • Words have meaning. The President said some words and some people are reacting to it.  Even though there are First Amendment freedoms, we still need to take care with our words and actions.


  • Many NFL players who are African American feel this is about solidarity.
  • Many minorities feel disrespected, and this is a way to show their discontent.

Hartford Hospital’s Institute of Living is a member of the Hartford HealthCare Behavioral Health Network. For information on programs and services, click here




What's New

HOCC Campaign Shows High-tech Care, Close to Home

The Hospital of Central Connecticut (HOCC) launched a major marketing campaign designed to remind area residents that they have access to the region’s best doctors and most sophisticated medical care right in their backyard. Featuring documentary-style vignettes that give viewers an inside look at some of the hospital’s highest-stakes areas...

Heart of the Matter: Colchester Woman, 47, Gets Transplant

Colchester resident Cindy Sypher had already survived one heart attack. So when she started to feel strange in a similar manner while traveling to work one morning, she took it seriously. She remembers getting herself to a local urgent care center — and nothing else until she awoke on a...

Natchaug Worker Prevents Woman from Jumping Off Bridge

When you work on the frontlines in healthcare, you’re really always on duty. For Amy Gallagher, lead clinician at Natchaug Hospital’s Joshua Center Thames Valley in Norwich, that was never more apparent than on Thursday, April 12, 2018. Gallagher was driving with her 16-year-old daughter on Interstate 91 in New...

Female doctor talking to male patient.

What is External Beam Radiation Therapy?

It sounds like something dangerous or straight out of a science fiction movie, but external beam radiation therapy is one of the best and most advanced ways to treat prostate cancer. Dr. Nicole Anderson, a radiation oncologist with Backus Hospital, says external beam radiation is recommended for many patients with...

Back Pain: What Happens with Degenerative Changes?

Back pain can have many causes – and many treatments. Hartford HealthCare Rehabilitation Network physical therapist Dan Fisher explains why evaluation by a physical therapist can help treat the pain you may be experiencing.  Q: What are some of the common conditions associated with back pain? A: The most common...

What is Peyronie’s Disease?

Peyronie’s disease is likely something something you’ve never heard of, but affects 13 percent of all men. Dr. Jared Bieniek of the Tallwood Urology and Kidney Institute is here to explain.  Q: What is Peyronie’s disease?  A: Peyronie’s disease is  a condition. It results from scar tissue or plaque that...