Happy Sunday, my friends! I hope your weekend is going just as you hoped!
Today I’m stopping in to give you all this month’s Advice Found! I’m so happy I started this series because I LOVE the well-thought out, insightful advice you all leave in the comments! It’s so interesting for me to see all of the different opinions on a topic and each time I learn so much and leave with a lot to consider.
This month’s topic was Kids and Tragedy. To get the full post which had my own take on the topic as well as the general question asked, head over to this post! Below you’ll find some of my favorites from the comments section of the last Seeking Advice. I’ve linked the names to that person’s blog if applicable and would love it if you’d stop by their site and see some of what they’re about!
I just want to say: you all are amazing. The insight you give on each topic is just fantastic, and this month I learned so much and, as always, left with more questions that I started with (in a good way!)
Mal from Aloha Connecticut Girl–
Honestly, honesty. Children are not nearly as unaware as many adults try to make them out to be. They pick up on everything from body language to stoney silences. In many instances not talking things out with children leads to confusion and possible a misunderstanding of your behavior. For example they may even be under the impression that they did something wrong. Another thing to note is that when kids know they are being shielded from something, it makes them that much more likely to try to figure it out on their own…Curiosity and cats and all that jazz. In cases of tragedy I think it is best to sit down with your children and be honest. That way any questions that they have can be addressed by you and they will know that they can trust you to be honest with them. This will (hopefully) in turn help them to realize that they can be honest with you and build a mutual trust and respect. <3
Rebecca from MamaGuru –
The fact that we can decide when and how our children are introduced to topics such as war and terrorism is evidence of a privileged position in our world. I don’t mean that to make anyone feel guilty, but to remember that millions of other families actually live in these conditions. Children can and do learn about the horrors of the world at very young ages. Because elementary schools teach about terrorism (Patriot Day) and things like slavery (Abe Lincoln), I think it’s ok to let children understand a bit of what is happening in our world. Here are the guidelines I use.
1. Telling a child something is very different than letting the news media tell your child something. Visual images are extremely powerful, especially for little ones and we never know what is going to pass over the screen. That can create nightmares that are hard to shake. It is best to choose appropriate language while you personally explain a situation. That may mean you can get drawn into the news yourself.
2. I wouldn’t share something that seems too close to home for them, like telling a first grader about the first-graders killed at school in Connecticut. If it could make a child feel unsafe, it should wait.
3. Kids don’t need to know every single bad thing that happens, but if the story is large enough that they will hear about it from friends or in school, parents should take the lead in explaining it to children.
4. Tie it into a larger discussion about your values. If you have a faith, make connections for children so they can understand and appreciate how to make sense of the world. There is a famous Mr. Roger’s quote about looking at all the people helping when something happens.
Sarah from Sweet Miles –
I was in 7th grade math class and remember seeing the second plane hit the second tower because our principal has sent an email out to the faculty and my teacher had turned on the tv real quick! I randomly went home sick later that day too, ironically, but I remember sitting in the living room with my mom watching the tv and hearing her call friends and family. I think a lot about how I will protect Adeline from this awful, awful world we live in. I think a lot too about what my own parents did, and what I keep coming back to is this – bad things are always going to happen, and it’s naive to think I can protect her from everything. But what I can do, is teach her that this world is not our home, and this too shall pass. I think when it comes to a tragedy, it’s dependent upon the situation – I hope and pray that I can discern how and when to tell my children things, and HOW to tell them, but I think it’s a waste of energy to try and think about it ahead of time because we aren’t even promised tomorrow.
Michelle from Grammie Time –
With younger children limiting the amount of time the television is on is a good idea because kids pick up a lot from listening to that. With older children it depends on their level of comprehension of the things of the world. Like most parents, modeling good behavior and teaching morals always wins. Be the example. They see parents degrading others, calling names, talking trash, they think it is okay and can’t always differentiate between what you are doing to others and what others are doing.
Jessie from The Acquired Sass –
I think sharing or not sharing probably has to do with how emotionally developed your kid (s) are. I think tragedy is a lot easier if it can be tied to a feeling, it makes you sad, or mad, or scared, or all 3. And to recognize that tragedy comes at all levels, 9/11 was a national (and I would argue worldly tragedy) – same with any other large scale terror attack. But that the sudden death of a loved one is more of a localized tragedy, the same way a flood might be.
I think by showcasing different tragedies as the kiddos become old enough to understand and process + showing examples of good that shine through. Neighbors helping each other, volunteers going and helping rebuild after a flood, or a country coming together after something like 9/11, that there is good everywhere, and that when the emotions seem overwhelming that’s something to focus on.
But, I think there are 5 year olds that could handle this type of stuff, and 10 year olds that couldn’t. I think it’s a really personal parental decision.
Emily from Beauty in Christ the Book –
I often take my worries and share them with my parents. The most comforting thing is that they always remind me to take the anxieties to God in prayer, knowing that it will be worked out eventually and to keep hoping, because a world without hope is so dark.
I’m thankful that each opportunity has been a reminder from my parents to keep hoping, to keep hoping in God’s promises and care, or else I’m not sure what I would do.
Ellen from My Uncommon Everyday –
This is so hard. I was in first grade (I believe) on 9/11, and my parents kept me pretty informed about the whole thing. I mean, I knew about terrorists and the plane crash and heightened security. And war. I was an anxious kid (and I’m an anxious 20 year old), and I didn’t understand how terrorism worked, so I thought our house would be the next target. I was scared, but my family and I talked about it a lot, and that helped. I could always ask questions, and while I know my parents were annoyed when I was too scared to go down to the basement alone, I was never made to feel stupid.
I had no idea at the time that parents wouldn’t tell their kids these kinds of things. We had to write journals in school, and I know I wrote about 9/11 and shared it with the class. Kids who didn’t know about 9/11 went home and asked their parents questions. I was asked to not share such journal entries with the class again.
As a kid, I couldn’t understand how you could NOT know or want to know what’s happening in the world. Now, I think about my cousins and I simultaneously want to shield them and tell them everything. And though my time to have kids is a little while away, I like to think I would tell them about tragedies, open space for questions, and make sure we don’t dwell on it too much. That’s how I approach it myself. I learn and I’m sad and scared, and then I turn the channel or read something light. I have no idea if that’s the right thing to do, but I’ve gotten okay at compartmentalizing and it works.
Heather from Lunging Through Life –
This is a very hard topics. I want to shield Annabelle from the awful world we live in but yet she will have to know about this stuff, too. I definitely think I’ll be downplaying things until she is old enough to understand. I didn’t know about 9/11 until I got home and even then I don’t think my mom told me how bad it really was. In the end, do our children need to know every little detail and be scared? I think there is a time and place to share them, like if it’s going to effect their life. For instance, if it’s something close by and they can’t go somewhere alone because of it (future talk…). So sad that our world is coming to see awful tragedies as quickly as we are.
Once again, I really want to thank each and every one of you who take the time to comment and leave such well-thought out comments on these posts – it means SO much to me that you are helping me make this series a success. You are all so thoughtful and respectful to one another, starting conversations in the comments and leaving your own experiences to help me and other!
Have a great rest of your weekend, everyone!!
So tell me – who’s advice did you identify the most with? Who’s made you think the most? If you missed adding your advice but have something great to say on the topic, leave it in the comments!
Don’t forget to check out the past Seeking Advice posts!