Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Sheltering Kids From The News Makes Them Stupid

As mentioned yesterday, acts of violence like school shootings occur in cycles. Just when the thought of the last ones is beginning to pass from your mind, another one happens. I think it is God's or Fate's or whatever's way of reminding us that we are not in control. And the worst thing we can do in these situations is ignore the fact that kids need to know what is going on.
The last time I read an article about how to deal with talking to your kids about tragedy was right after 9-11. There were actually people who thought it was a good idea to NOT let kids see the images of that day. They thought it was a good idea to keep kids in the dark about these events. And by doing so, they screwed up the development of these kids by making them ignorant of the world around them.
The recent school shootings in the past five days have started a resurgence in people wondering how to talk to their kids about the situations. It is normal for a parent to wonder how their child will react to an incident like the Amish school shooting. But what should not be normal is pretending nothing is wrong and not let kids have access to the news. Kids need to know what is going on in the world just as much as they need to be told that they are going to be alright.
That brings up the point of going to far with exposing your kids to news. Obviously, there are some things in the news that kids will be disturbed by. There will also be things that scare them because they do not understand. It is a parent's job to explain something to their child when they don't understand that. If you don't, you are no better than the fear-mongering media outlets that put out the stories. But just because you are unsure about how to explain something, doesn't mean you shouldn't try.
Parents that turn off the news or shelter their kids from bad news are bad parents. They are, in fact, making their kids stupid. If a child goes his/hers whole life not really experiencing anything, that child will be lost on their own. Think about it. If a child is not allowed to know fear or sadness, what sort of adult will they become. One that will probably not last long in the "real world."
Make a habit of watching the news with your kids everyday. I know that usually local news is on three times a night. One of these times is perfect to spend with your child. By doing this, you child will not only be more informed about current events, he/she will also know how to cope with the tragedies that may come along. It is the job of a parent to send their child out into the world prepared to face it. If they don't get their explanations from their parents, where do you think they will get them? That question alone should scare anyone into leaving the news on for their kids to watch.

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