#MicroblogMondays: Explaining Current Events to Kids.

Microblog_Mondays

(Not sure what #MicroblogMondays is? Read the inaugural post which explains the idea and how you can participate too.)

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The day of the Boston Marathon bombing, Owen and I were at the gym, doing family swim. I came out of the gym to a lot of texts wondering if I was okay, and I spent our ride home frantically calling multiple people in the hopes they could tell me that my friends running it were okay.

Owen was 5.

I knew as it was happening that he was entirely too young to witness my fear and shock and worry. But I couldn’t help it that day. And we told him about the bombing, because he asked, and we did watch the news that night. And then we spent months afterwards talking him through what happened, trying to help him process it.

Since then, whenever we go somewhere and the news is on, he’s sucked into it and all questions. What happened? Why are they showing pictures of [insert whatever awful story is on the news]? Why did [insert perpetrators] do that to [insert victims]?

We try and tell him the truth as age appropriately as we can when he asks, but because he gets so focused on it, we basically avoid all news programs when he’s around. Which is easier on us, of course. I can’t explain so much of the awfulness that is on the news to myself – how can I explain it to my son?

But yesterday, when we were watching the Patriots game with friends, a commercial for 60 Minutes came on, which was about Paris.

Owen asked, What happened in Paris? And his best friend said, My dad told me. Dad – tell Owen what happened in Paris.

His dad was in the middle of a conversation, so it was never talked about.

But it struck me then – we’re not doing Owen any favors by ignoring current events and hoping he never has to see them, either. We need to explain what’s going on.

Do we?

I don’t know. I want him to have a childhood away from pervasive media, but I don’t want to make it off limits, either.

So here’s where I ask you all for advice.

Do you explain current events to your kids? If so, how?

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7 Responses to #MicroblogMondays: Explaining Current Events to Kids.

  1. Turia says:

    Because E. is four and very sensitive, we hide as much as we can from him. The lockdown drill they did at his school at the start of the year sent him completely off the deep end. I know eventually we should not shelter him from everything (and we won’t be able to), but right now I want him to get a little bit older and a little bit better able to handle the emotions that events like Paris will evoke.

    Maybe this will be helpful?
    http://coolmompicks.com/blog/2015/11/14/how-to-talk-to-your-children-about-tragedy-and-paris-online-resources/

  2. Catwoman73 says:

    I shelter Amelia from a great deal as well. But she does hear about bad things happening at school now and then, and that leaves me to deal with it. I usually just explain to her that some very angry people sometimes do bad things to other people. I try turn it around and ask her what she thinks we can do to help make the world a better place. We have made contributions to charities in her name, made cards for kids dying of cancer, and so on. These ideas were all her suggestion (sometimes with a few refining suggestions from me. She feels a bit more in control when she feels like she’s doing something that helps people who are suffering and it was all her idea. Hope that helps.

  3. deathstar says:

    I try not to watch unfolding news like that with 5 year old Boo. But occasionally he starts asking, “Why are they shooting black men?” Stuff like that. We’re going through a death in the family and that’s hard enough to explain without the rest of the crap that goes on in the world. So, yes, I keep most of the bad news away from him or change the channel. There will be plenty of horrific news when he gets older.

  4. I completely resonate with your thought of having a childhood for our children away from pervasive media but at the same time not trying to keep them away from reality and the dilemma arising out of it. My son is 4.5 year old and he too asked me what is happening in Paris, after watching the news. I tried explaining it to him but it was difficult. A few weeks ago I was dealing with his question – ‘Where do people go after dying?’ and now his question is – ‘Why did a few men kill other people?’. I wish if only I knew and understood that.

  5. Mel says:

    Yes, IF I think they are going to hear about it somewhere else (such as pick up on it from adult conversations) or they need to understand why I am upset, etc. I think it’s scarier not to know why adults are upset around you. We talk about things in a calm, age-appropriate way.

    It’s hard to find that line between not scaring them but bringing them into current events.

  6. sharah says:

    We are in (what I think of as) a weird place. My kids know exactly what “dying” means – they’ve been to 3 funerals in the last year and they get it. We also live in a military town, which means there is a certain level of security awareness that seeps through our community without us really realizing it (for example, the test range blew out a set of store windows from miles away when they didn’t anticipate the explosive power of a rocket engine earlier this year. No one thought it was a big deal and the local news just reiterated the reporting process for noise complaints.) AND they had a bomb threat at their school earlier this year. Luckily, they had just had a lockdown drill and the teachers seemed to have managed to keep them all pretty level about it. We normally leave PBS World News running in the background before dinner every night, so they have the choice to listen or not, or listen to us discuss the implications of the stories or not. So Min knows that I’m upset about Paris, he gets that something is wrong, but I don’t think he himself is all that freaked out. He was basically trying to comfort me the other night

  7. Heather says:

    I wait until I understand it, makes it easier for me to tone it down to age appropriateness. Which usually means a day or 5 after the actual event. If it’s something big and I think other kids will talk about it I may discuss the hard facts with them, the basics, and then we get into all kinds of discussion on why.
    We haven’t discussed Paris yet.

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