Resources about talking to your kids about the news and
We don't watch the news.
We're not uninformed; no, quite the opposite. My husband is
voracious newspaper reader and will seek out alternative sources
(i.e. UK newspapers) to get alternate opinions on events. I listen
to NPR every morning before the kids get up. Our kids, on the other
hand, are blissfully uniformed and we intended to keep it that
With the current state of 24 hour cable news the stories coming
through our TV screens are more frequently, live, unedited and
graphic. Reports and opinions are flying out of mouths before
people process it or have answers and cameras are rolling before
something horrible even happens. I sometimes wonder what the MPAA
would rate some newscasts if they were to be shown as a movie?
When 9/11 happened, I worked in an office building 3 blocks from
the Sears tower. I happened to be off that day, going through the
final fittings for my wedding. I sat in front of the TV and watched
as the second plane hit, watched as the towers crumbled. Just
typing those words makes my heart start to race and I get shaky.
The fear and anxiety of those days creep back up; even now, 12
years later my heart races if I see a low flying plane. The fear
and images cannot be erased.
For children, I think it's even harder. They have no concept of
how large the world is. Boston, Newtown, Iraq? They could as easily
be Pleasant Prairie, Des Plaines, and Lincoln Park. The other side
of town and the other side of the world are just as far away from
them. It's my job as a parent to teach them about the world, yes,
but it's also my job to make them feel safe.
Two summers ago, our house got struck by lightning. One of my
two kids was upstairs with me under where the house was hit and all
the lights blew out. It was pretty loud and startled even me. Two
years later and that one event has left a lasting impression. Both
kids are still scared of storms and worry that our house will be
hit again. My daughter frequently draws houses with lightning
hitting them. To me, as an adult, it was a pretty benign incident.
We lost a bunch of electronics, and the fire department had to come
out, but there was no fire, and no one was hurt. To a young child,
this was a life-altering event.
Fear and anxiety can be debilitating. I can see that at least
one of my children leans towards anxiety and worry. Filling them
with the fearful images of events that are out of their control and
out of their realm of understanding. They're still little (5 and
7), they still look to us for guidance and to understand their
world, and honestly I don't have the answers to give them to make
them feel safe. I myself don't know why someone would want to hurt
innocent bystanders, runners, children. All I can do is pray, and
answer their questions as they come up.
There is a quote from Gandhi that is making the rounds on
You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean;
if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become
I choose to show my children the vast beauty of the ocean, in
hopes that they will not become hardened and fearful but that they
may help spread and create more love and beauty.
Melissa is mom to 4 kids and 2 angels. She chronicles the sticky bits of motherhood at Peanut Butter in my Hair.
See more of Melissa's stories here.
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