Telling Kids About Bad Things
Howard and I spent most of the weekend avoiding the news. We checked in for updates, but only read them in text. We watched no video and tried to keep to bare facts as much as possible. We certainly did not turn on broadcast news in our family room and let our kids watch with us. For them, the school shooting barely existed all weekend long. Howard and I had several conversations during which we sorted our thoughts and feelings, but we were careful to have those where the kids were not listening.
This morning at breakfast Gleek asked a question which showed that the school shooting was on her mind. This is logical since she would be headed off to school soon. I sat down and reviewed some facts with them. We talked about order of events, details we may never know, and how rare this sort of event was. I kept my demeanor factual and calm while watching to see what they were feeling. Children will adopt the emotional states of their parents and I did not want to send them off to school upset. I also did not want to send them off to school uninformed, because kids talk at school. Some of their friends did spend all weekend watching news and listening to their parents cry. I fully expect my kids to come home more upset and with more questions than they had this morning. This is hard.
There was a moment during this morning’s discussion where I watched my kids realize how terrible this is. When I said that the victims were first graders, a flicker passed across both Gleek’s face and Patch’s. They are older. The first graders are the little kids. So we talked about that for a bit. We talked about how teachers died trying to protect the kids and that their teachers would do the same for them. Then we talked about free agency, which God grants to all of his children, even though he knows that some people will make choices to hurt others.
When the conversation wound down to a pause, I deliberately changed the subject. We moved onward into homework and getting ready for school. Hard things happen. We have feelings about them. We help where we can. We take reasonable steps to increase safety. Then we move onward.
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