Sunday, December 16, 2012

What Should We Say to Our Children About Tragic Events?

Following the tragic event in Connecticut on Friday, which sadly, has been the most recent in a long line of tragic, unthinkable events, I know of so many parents, including myself, who are seeking the right words to say to our children.  In our house, we have tried to avoid the news when the kids are around, although on Friday afternoon I saw that one of my 11-year-old's friends had sent her an e-mail breaking the news to my daughter.  Fortunately, I saw it first and was able to tell her about it myself.  I saw later that she had an exchange with this and a couple of other friends on e-mail.  We talked about it again this morning during and after church.  I was prepared for some discussion about it in church, but was unprepared for the depth of details the deacon went into about the event in CT as well as detailing many other events - 9/11, Columbine, the movie theater shooting, etc.  As soon as he started speaking I lifted my 6-year-old onto my lap and drew my 11-year-old closer to me.  My husband and I had spoken very briefly and vaguely to our 6-year-old on Saturday, so I knew that she knew a little about it, but not so many details.  Friends and family have been on Facebook this weekend discussing what happened and what we should do and how could this happen and looking for answers where sadly, there are none.  But it was also a nice forum to exchange ideas for talking to our children.  A friend of my sister-in-law's posted this information and I also received a link to it from my 6-year-old's school, in a reassuring e-mail from her principal.  Here is a link to the National Association of School Psychologists' Talking to Children About Violence: Tips for Parents and Teachers.  

My heart breaks for the families in Connecticut who lost so much on Friday, for the children who survived but who had to go through something that no child should have to experience, for the staff who put the children's welfare first, and to the whole community of Newtown, CT.  And my heart breaks for all of the children across the country who may be walking into school tomorrow feeling that school is not as safe as they once believed.  And my heart breaks that we even need to have these talks with our children - that there are people in the world that have no respect for human life, that have no compassion for innocent children, that have no fear of or respect for or faith in God, and who are so deeply troubled that they can see no light at the end of the tunnel.  I hug and kiss my children each and every day and I tell them that I love them each and every day, but I, like other parents, am hugging them a little tighter these days. 

May we all find peace and love and hope this holiday season, and each and every day.  God bless!

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