I was not ready when my son came home from first grade telling me he learned about the 9/11 attacks and the wars going on. I wanted to shelter my kids from thoughts of such evil in the world for a bit longer but his teacher felt it appropriate to talk about it and have them make cards for soldiers. It was a nice gesture but I still felt they were too young. Recently then, I had to figure out how to discuss the Newtown school shooting with my elementary school aged kids. After all that, this week has been all about the Boston bombings where my kids know their uncle and aunt live. All of this hits too close to home, especially if you take into account shootings at a Sikh temple (our religion) and a movie theater (our favorite past-time). So how does one explain this all to young children?
Well, my kids are old enough to understand the facts about what is going on but I don’t think they really comprehend it. My guess is that they either equate it to the fictional violence they see in movies where superheroes or secret agents save the day. Or, I think they may be just blocking it out of their minds because the thoughts are too scary. It may even be a bit of both. I just feel that my duty as a parent is to make sure I’m there for them to talk about it and to make sure that they know we will try to keep them safe and secure.
I’m glad their fantasies include superheroes or larger than life secret agents because I think it is important to believe that good wins out over evil. I honestly do believe in that too. I don’t think someone in a cape with super-strength will save us but I think that many heroes are born out of these situations. All our law enforcement agents rally and put their lives on the line while many regular citizens go out of their way to help one another. We have seen this in the past and we saw it again this week after the Boston bombings. I made sure to remind my boys that lots of good people went to help victims no matter how tired or scared they were. I need them to focus on the good and the kindness in this world even though they are aware that there is some evil out there as well.
No one can control everything but as parents we try to be vigilant and protect our children as much as possible. Sadly, we can’t always protect them from thoughts and fears and all this violence breeds more fear. I think exposing them to stories of good deeds and nice things helps combat that. The most important thing I feel is to make sure they know they are loved and have a sense of security at home. That way at least home and family are a sanctuary from scary things. So, give your kids a hug and tell them you love them. It’s a simple win over all the fear and evil in the world!