Thursday, April 19, 2007

How do we tell our kids?

Tonight I am leaving for a much needed scrapbooking weekend away with my neighbor and her friends. I have been looking forward to this weekend for a while now. Anyways, last night I was laying out Ashley's clothes for today and Friday (otherwise Lord knows what Ray would dress her in!). I told her she needed to wear her VT t-shirt on Friday to school.

"Why Mommy?"
"Because something bad happened at Tech and we all are wearing our shirts on Friday, you, me, Audrey, Daddy..."
"Why did something bad happen?"
"I don't know."
"I don't know, but let's just wear our shirts okay? And you can tell your teachers at school tomorrow to wear orange and maroon too."
"What bad happened?"
(I can see at this point she isn't going to let it go...)
"Some people died."
"Because a not so nice person was not happy. Let's get pj's on..."

So how do we tell our kids about this? Ashley is too young to really grasp the events that happened, but I know some of you have older children. At what point do we shelter them from the news to letting them know what's going on? Should I have not told Ashley something bad happened?


Anonymous said...

Yet another tough parenting question that I have NO clue on. I'm glad Morgan is still too little to understand any of it.

Enjoy your weekend deserve it!!

ktjrdn said...

i don't know either, but my guess is that you handled it right. I always figured you answer them simply in exactly what they asked at this age. When her curiosity is done, she'll stop and you'll know how far to go. That said, I didn't say a word to the kids here. it's too far removed from us for ally to have any idea.

CPA_Mom said...

that's tough. I think you did the right thing for someone her age. Luckily, my kids are both too young and Tigger is delayed too so this never even crossed their radar.

CPA_Mom said...

This was on your collaborative blog:

Today's Link: Sesame Family Newsletter Archive - Shielding Children from Bad News

Why: In our household, we've made the decision to simply not discuss the Virginia Tech tragedy in front of our 4-year-old daughter. We recorded the news to watch later and tried not to let her see, much less hear, coverage. But it's not that simple when children get older. Even if we do our best to shield them from tragedy, they often hear about it through secondary sources. This Sesame Family Newsletter archive covers how much to tell children, how children handle stress and how to answer questions on these difficult topics.

Happy Working Mom said...

I think you did fine. Personally I'm not one for sheltering my kids. My daughter is very smart and picks up on things easily, so I really can't pull one over on her. She'd be like Ashley and keep asking until I gave her the right answer. I don't think they're scarred if they hear that the world isn't perfect...I want my kids to know that there are bad people out there that will hurt them, and that's why they don't talk to strangers, they don't go anywhere without an adult, etc. I think you did a great job!

Julie said...

Last May when a disturbed kid ambushed the police station down the street from our daycare (and from the high school where both this shooter and the VT shooter went) and killed two officers our daycare was put in lock down. While the kids were certainly safe, when we were finally allowed to the school to get them the area was swarming with police. On the drive out of there Abby couldn't help but notice all the police activity, cars, trucks, police with guns, etc. She asked me what happened and I told her a bad man had shot at the police and hurt a couple of them. In the following days as we learned two had died - a memorial was made with a cop car and it was impossible to miss that as well on our normal drive to daycare. Of course Abby asked questions and I explained that two of the police were killed and that the memorial was there in their honor. She totally got it but didn't ask a million questions or linger on it.

So that's my long winded way of telling you I think you handled it right. I think you did the right thing, you explained to her that something bad happened and taught her a lesson in community pulling together. Kids don't need to know the nitty gritty of what happened but I personally think it's ok for them to know some thing bad happened.

Rachel said...

I've been struggling with the same question myself. I almost asked Kaylie about it this morning, she hasn't seen the news obviously or she would have alread asked me. I decided to wait because it will be a long conversation and it's not one I want to start on the way to school. Of course, Kaylie is older and probably understands things a little better than Ashley, but I don't think she still really "gets it". I don't want her to be afraid at school or anything like that, but I feel like it's my job as her mom to be honest with her about things like this.

I just don't know. Why does being a parent have to be so dang hard?

Working Mom said...

I agree with everyone, you handled it well. I also think that at their age it's best just to answer exactly what they asked as simple as possible. No need to go into the details.

I'm one that tries to not watch the news with Bug around though, except for the weather. I guess I'm just trying to shelter her as long as I can.

PortraitofPeter said...

Thank you for your kind words regarding my prayer.

My thoughts and words came from the heart upon hearing of the tragic incident in Virginia and to the many who are in need of comfort and guidance at this time.

May this prayer be of some comfort to you also.

Blessings to you and your dear family.


Heather said...

I think you handled it very well. I think I would have handled it the same. It's a fine line, at least for me, between lying to and/or shielding your kids. It's scary stuff, to be sure.

Hope you enjoy your time away!

my4kids said...

I agree with the others it sounds like you handled it well. With kids most of the time you let them answer the questions and that is all you answer you don't want to elaborate to much. I remember one time with Joshua he asked me a simple question and I went more into detail then the question implied and he looked at me and was like "Mom, all I needed was a yes or no!"
I don't believe in sheltering them from it either. They will hear about it eventually and would you rather they hear it when you are around to talk to them or someone other then a parent? Thats the way I look at it. I have a better idea of how much they can understand and would want to know then anyone else. And if it upsets them I want to be able to comfort them myself.
I allow the news on and for them to hear it but we don't listen to anymore of the news then usual, its not on all day. It brings up discussion about it for the older boys and honestly the girls know it happened have asked their questions and are fine they don't really think about it.
I guess its just something you learn with your kids and you let them guide you on what they can handle you will know if its to much and if they want more they will ask but like I said don't go into more detail then the question is asking for.
Sorry for the super long comment. The boys were Ashleys age when 911 happened and that was were I learned some of my lessons some of them the hard way. Feel free to ask I can tell you what I did wrong and right in my opinion personally.

Beccy said...

I've always tried to answer each question my children have asked simply and give them just a little information. They keep asking more until they are satisfied and the questions will stop. This means (so I read somewhere) that that is all they need to know as it is all they are capable of proccessing. Very handy when young ones how babies are made! I think you handled the situation perfectly.

That Chick Over There said...

September 11th happened when my children were way to young to know what was going on.

I had to tell them later and I explained it in terms they could understand, "Bad people", "Did the wrong things" "Hurt people".

Now they are 9...they do understand but it took time.

It's just so hard when they are little ones.

EC said...

I think it depends on the individual child and what their maturity level is with grasping such a thing. Personally, I do tend to shield Matthew from these things for now because I think at this age it scares them more than anything. At around 5 I think for Matthew he could understand it. Again, its a completely individual choice.

Edie C said...

I also agree that you handled it the right way. I think before they should know the whole story they should be able to understand what death is, understand that school is a very safe place, and that what happened isn't something that is normal. I think, at 4, they don't understand all that.

I think that telling them that something bad happened is fine. (Honesty is always the best policy.) I also think you should try show that you are doing something good by wearing the shirts. Say something like, "Let's celebrate how much we love VT by wearing our tshirt and showing our support of the school."

Then if she's like Hayden, she'll ask, "What does 'showing support' mean?" :)

Susan in va said...

That's a tough one. You know better than anyone what your child can handle hearing. I told my 7 1/2 year old immediately after it happened. (We have a lot of family in Blacksburg and Montgomery County, so he knew something was going on when I was on the phone all day.) He has watched the coverage with me and his heart is broken, too. My 6 year old knows what happened, but isn't interested in watching the news.

I will say that I am the ONLY one of my friends that has told their kids about this (we all homeschool, so they aren't hearing things at school). They know that hearing this news would scare their kids and keep them up at night. You do have to consider this. It's tough. But it's certainly an INDIVIDUAL decision.

No one knows your girls like you do.

Margarita said...

Ugh. You just have to go with your maternal/parenting instincts and trust that you did the right thing.

la bellina mammina said...

I agree with everyone. When my husband died, my eldest was nearly 2 and the youngest was 5 months old.
When they were 4 & 5, I told them that their dad had gone to heaven but he's watching over us and every evening they said goodnight to the moon because they wanted to believe that was where dad was.
As they grow older I explained to them better what death is all about. I'm glad I didn't have to lie to them even though it was difficult and they were to young to understand about death.

Lisa said...

My kids are wearing orange and maroon tomorrow also. They were old enough that they saw it on the news themselves. (High schoolers). I don't think there's really any way to explain such a thing. So wasteful and sad.

frannie said...

it is such a tough job to explain tragedy to our children

Kelly M said...

I think it is important to tell how children about the evils of the world. That way they don't grow up niave! It's important to tell them on their level....which you did...I think you handled it extremely well! You were honest to the point..yet didn't give her too much detail she wouldn't understand anyway! Great job!

Anvilcloud said...

Ah, I guess there's no universal answer. You do what seems right to you for your kids. Sometimes, the decisions aren't easy.