Talking to your child about Nuclear War

This week’s blog post is by The Paternity Test co-host Matt Boresi, who lives in the Edgewater Glen neighborhood of Chicago with his wife (“Professor Foster”) and their 5-year-old daughter Viva, who hopes the Trumpkins love their children, too.

Note from the author: Here is the latest installment of my personal, biased, non-consecutive blog series about parenting in the era of alternative facts, lunatic tweeting, intellectual incuriosity and toxic narcissism. If you’re wearing a red snap-back right now, consider that your trigger warning.

Everything old is new again! I believe it was Peter Allen who made that musical declaration in 1974 — right around the time President Richard M. Nixon resigned following a scandal involving skullduggery and obstruction of justice. Allen was right; everything we enjoyed as Gen X tots during the cold war is back and hotter than ever! Star Wars is in theaters, Aliotta Haynes Jeremiah is on soundtracks, “GLOW” is on TV, and parents and children are once again lying in bed worrying about global thermonuclear conflict!

Thanks to master improviser Donald J. Trump’s off-the-cuff remarks yesterday that North Korea might feel “fire and fury like the world has never seen,” his brother-from-another-mother Kim Jong-un has threatened to obliterate Guam. I don’t know why we bother to go to Second City, IO or the Neo-futurists when we can watch truly inspired ad-libbing beamed straight from the clubhouse at Bedminster. The Joint Chiefs and the UN had no idea Trump was going to say what he said, and had advised him against exacerbating the situation, but, really, those dumb old generals lack the critical acumen of someone who once fake-fired a magician on a game show for his poor marketing of a fragrance called “Success.” (Perhaps the problem is that no one wants to smell like a failed mail-order-meat huckster.) Now the globe is once again poised to launch warheads capable of not only mass-murder but centuries of environmental destruction and chaos. Bring on the remake of “The Day After;” I can sit and watch it with my daughter while we try to solve a Rubik’s cube!

What a pleasure it is to share our childhood experiences with our children, whether it’s grabbing a blisteringly hot wax sculpture at the zoo, ducking through the confiscated U-boat at the Museum of Science and Industry or staring at the bedroom ceiling contemplating whether we’ll have to fight for fresh water while our teeth fall out in an irradiated wasteland that was once America. I remember many a night spent with the covers pulled up to my nose, wondering if I’d have the guts to steal my neighbor’s last can of beans or the maturity to brain my own dog with a brick to conserve resources. Now my 5-year-old daughter can cry herself to sleep wondering those things just like her old man!

Your child might not immediately understand why mankind would be willing to create and detonate weapons capable of causing not only widespread misery and death, but potentially leading to the destruction of all life on Earth. Clearly they’ve never had to wait in line at the DMV, amiright? (You’ll need to lighten the mood a little when talking about nuclear war.) Tell your little one that they’ll get it soon, though. Greed, tribalism, ignorance and war — those are like humankind’s best talents! And when you find something you’re good at, stick to it. Nuclear war is the natural end of that ancient Cain-ian impulse to bump off your brother. Shouldn’t we finish what we started?

Getting lit up by an explosive combination of fission and fusion isn’t a passive experience, and you know how your little ones love to help. Tell the kids to get ready for some quality time and healthful exercise with their parents, digging a bunker in the backyard, laying down cinder blocks and passing MRE’s from the van to the dig site … as a family! You’re going to be down there forever, so there will be plenty of time to play Pac-Man, Trivial Pursuit and read the entire Hitchhiker’s Guide series. Nota Bene: The next big trend in hipster parenting is Subterranean Retro! Better make a playlist — you’ll need about a thousand years’ worth of Ramones tracks.

The whole thing feels very ‘70s/’80s to me, but if I were a Boomer I might feel even more at home. The sentiment at the heart of the “Make America Great Again” movement is bringing us back to the Halcyon days of the ‘50s — rolling back voter rights, environmental regulations, returning to dirty fossil fuel — and what could be more ‘50s than nuclear standoff and a Korean War?! We Xers could only enjoy the chicken/baby-suffocating pleasure of struggles near the 38th parallel via the bittersweet beats of “M*A*S*H,” but perhaps soon we’ll be watching what could be the biggest humanitarian crisis in history right on the cover of the Amazon Washington Post and Failing New York Times. Let Grandma and Grandpa in on the conversation and invite them to the childhood throwback fun! (Let them in soon, though. They’ll be the first out the bunker door when the supplies run low.)

You can choose to look upon current events as a never ending series of worries. I look upon them as opportunities to share with my child the truth that, although the arc of history theoretically bends towards justice, it’s a verrrrrrry long arc, and one that might suddenly be interrupted by mass extinction. If all this miniaturized warhead and long range missile talk is freaking your child out too much, show them the bright side — society was probably going to collapse within their lifetime due to climate change — at least now they get to kick it old school with some good old fashioned nukin’ it high. Rad!

If you enjoyed this essay, subscribe (free!) to The Paternity Test Comedy Podcast on iTunes or on Soundcloud, or visit

You can find the Dads on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and on Twitter at @thedadtest or email them at

Call The Paternity Test on their hotline: (657) BAD DADS and leave a message or a question they can play on the podcast!

- Advertisement -


Find Free Weekend Fun at Sloomoo Institute

Chicago’s favorite slime museum is hosting free slime workshops and outdoor block party fun all summer long.

These Are The Top 10 Healthiest Places to Live in Lake County

Explore Lake County’s healthiest places to live in 2024, ranked by Niche.

- Advertisement -