Do You *Really* Need Tips To Talk To Your Kids About Tragedy?

zacharie pilot shirtI put my son on a plane to send him on the vacation of a lifetime this morning.

Yes, the day after a bomb exploded in a crowd, my life goes on as usual.

My son will be in Disneyland this week with his grandparents, making the same pilgrimage I made when I was 5.

Am I worried? No more worried than I would have been if this day had come last month, last week, or last year. I’ll miss him every second he’s gone, but just because something bad happened there doesn’t mean I have to assume something bad will happen here.

When you live in fear, the terrorists win. Simple.

My boys are 5 and 3. I’d like to have the 5 o’clock news on while we have dinner, but usually it is the radio or Backyardigans filling in as background noise.

The fact is, I don’t trust the news as a safe source of family entertainment. Every night is filled with guns, war, rape, violence, and death. I’m not bubble wrapping my kids, but these shock-filled global events won’t help their swimming lessons or art projects.  They don’t help us go around the table and bond as a family.

I don’t need anyone to tell me the news can be a little violent and not appropriate for younger kids. My wife and I just use common sense with the knowledge we can catch up and get informed via social media and the web after the kids are in bed.

News events may frame the lessons I give my kids, it may help me focus on skills they need to be decent people, but the intimate details of Steubenville are not things we would talk about over dinner or even have on in the background.

When my grandmother died, I explained it plainly to my son with room for him to answer questions. He knows what death is, and how you never come back.  From time to time he will get sad thinking about her, but I think he’s a better person for a having a factual understanding of the world around him.

I didn’t talk to my kids about Newtown, I talked to my sons’ teachers about it. I hugged them, and offered support and thanked them for the love they have for the kids in their care each day. The school did a lockdown drill the day after, and my son thought it was in case a bear broke into the school. I was fine with that.

Last night, however, I did talk to my son about the bombing at the Boston Marathon. It was on tv as he walked in the room after school, and so I explained to him that a bomb went off at the end of the race and some people were hurt. That was it, he moved on to his search for his favorite Transformer, and I changed the channel.

There are many posts up today offering tips for talking to kids, or advice to never take them to crowds, or putting them under a media blackout.

When it comes to current events and how to talk to my kids about them, I don’t need ‘tips’, I just need common sense. I won’t outright lie to my kids, I won’t bubble wrap them, but I will dole out information on a ‘need to know’ basis.

And, truth be told, much of what is considered news these days is nothing any of us need to know.  So, without fear, I put my son on a plane and sent him to the happiest place on earth.

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