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I Should Be Explaining the Orlando Shooting to My Kids — But I Have No Words

Image Source: Thinkstock
Image Source: Thinkstock

No words. I have no words. I am a school counselor by trade. I am a mother of two young children who look to me for guidance in navigating this world. I am an educated human being. And yet, I have absolutely no words for the tragedy that took place in Orlando yesterday morning.

What can I say to my children about any of the senseless acts of gun violence that keep recurring? What can I tell them about the anger, the cruelty, and the hate that motivates these killers? What can I communicate about the innocent lives lost as these unthinkable incidents happen again and again?

Do I tell them to be afraid? To let go of their youthful innocence and be aware that anything can happen at any time? To never feel too comfortable, because you never know who is next to you on the bus, in the movies, at a sporting event? That even their own school is not safe from the bad guys?

How can I help my children understand when I can’t even process this myself? I am barely managing the typical day-to-day anxieties of life and motherhood as it is, and now I am forced to throw random acts of violence into the mix to worry about as well. This is not fair. Life is not fair.

I am angry that I now need to hold fear in the back of my mind during a crowded day at an amusement park with my kids. I am disgusted that I had to think twice about a Christmas trip to the city with my husband. I am sick that I can’t even let my guard down when my children step onto the bus to school.

Parents should not have to have these worries. I should not have to explain to my children why people kill people randomly and intentionally. You should not have to rationalize to your child why their school has routine lockdown drills, and why locks and window covers are on every classroom door. No one should have to raise their children in a world of fear and hate.

But, this is what our world seems to be becoming. “Stranger danger” has taken on a whole new, twisted meaning. Now our sons and daughters must beware of strangers who may pull out an assault rifle and attack a huge group of fans at a concert, patrons in a club, children at a school.

Through it all, I will continue to do my best to instill in my children hope and the belief that there are good people in the world. I will give them the advice of Mr. Rogers to “look for the helpers” when they are in need. Because despite all of the hatred, the bigotry, and the nonsensical violence, there is still a goodness we cannot overlook. I will continue to teach them about diversity and acceptance and love. I will not let the bad guys take that away. I refuse to let my children live in fear.

No. I have no words for what happened in Orlando. I am a counselor, I am a mother, I am a human being, and I have no words. I have no words, except these: This. Has. To. Stop.

Article Posted 2 years Ago

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