Monday Musings: Kids Say the Darndest Things

Monday, December 8, 2008

Have you talked with your kids about the Mumbai terror attacks?

At a holiday party this weekend, my friend, who has a 6 year old, was telling me about how her daughter was fixated on the news they watched all Thanksgiving weekend. My friend was in unfamiliar territory. Like all of us, she attempts to control the media her daughter sees. She balances telling the truth at all times with safeguarding her child's innocence. She weighs the pros and cons of each PBS Sprout program before allowing her children to watch it. But current events throw our carefully orchestrated systems of parenting out the window sometimes. Incapable of turning off the coverage of the Taj, my friend wondered whether she should let her daughter see the graphic footage of carnage and death, how she should explain it, and now, over a week later, she is dealing with how to field the constant and myriad questions the images provoked in her daughter.

Why are the men smiling Mommy?

Is that a baby?


What is happening in that hotel now?


Who cleaned all of that up?


My friend is at a loss. Having seen more disaster and terrorism than she hopes her daughter ever will, she continues to read the news about Mumbai but, for the most part, goes on with her life as usual. Not so for her 6 year old. Every day, little R has a new question that comes from her 6 year old attempts at trying to make sense of the nonsensical. Everyday, often apropos of nothing, R asks her mother to explain to her what happened again. And everyday my friend comes face to face with the fact that, sometime soon--maybe even now--she will stop being able to provide all the answers to her children.

"When she asked me if the terrorists' moms are mad at them, I had to leave the room so that she didn't see me cry," my friend told me.

We were at a Christmas party at a tiki bar. It was a pretty surreal setting for the unsettling conversation, and "Guns and Roses" was playing in the background. We both took sips of our drinks and I felt grateful for the small fact that, when my 3 year old asked me about the coverage of the attacks, I was able to tell him that it was a bad movie and that Fireman Sam was coming to save everyone and that the good guys win in the end.

My kids don't understand these things. Yet.
9 comments:
Jasmine said...

I read something about this right after the attacks and as with most things child-related, the "experts" advise us to carefully guide our children through the news; not to be too extreme; to answer all questions honestly but not aggressively. Easy right??

vinita said...

This came up in our house this weekend. My daughter is only 3 but her cousins are older and were talking about mumbai. I could actually see her absorbing it and I didn't know what to do...

Anonymous said...

The fact that this took place in India and was perpetrated by brown men is what i've had difficult explaining to my kids. My youngest (5) actually said that one of the men (boys really) looked like her cousin in India! My kids are still asking questions too. I just keep answering the best I can and assure them they are safe. Which is a lie...

Auntie N said...

I don't know what can really prepare us or give us a road map for talking about truly unsettling things with our kids. And I personally think we take our cues FROM current events instead of hiding from them. If your kids seem interested, and asking questions to me is interest, then we owe it to them to tell them the truth I think.

RN said...

Nice post. I'm glad my kids are little still too because I can't imagine trying to explain something I myself don't understand. I know I'll have to one day (calculus???! haha) but thankfully not yet.

Janie T said...

Oh lord, add this to my list of things to worry about as my children grow up: How to talk to them about horrible things!!

Anonymous said...

If your kids are young enough I think situations like this call for white lies. What good comes from them knowing about all the evil in the world before they have to?

st said...

My son's school talks about the attacks and he came home with all these fragmented thoughts on India and Pakistan--I was sort of upset actually because one he is young and two we made a decision not to really discuss the attacks with him. Now I am talking about it with him nonstop, he can't get enough...

Susan said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Post a Comment