Friday, August 3, 2007

Talking To Kids About Tragedy

Today Way Of The Master Radio was talking a little bit about responses to the bridge collapse. I guess some psychologists were talking on the radio, saying that you need to shield your kids from this sort of thing so that they don't get scared.

I've never really had that mentality with my daughter. She is now 5. During Hurricane Katrina, I didn't try to hide what was going on from her. I turned the television to Fox News, told her that some people might be hurt, and that we needed to pray for them.

I've always considered bad things happening to be a springboard for further discussion. Not to scare her, but to let her know how to behave. We were watching television once and they had a report about a guy looking at little girls in an inappropriate manner while they were at Toys R Us. It was an opportunity to remind her that nobody should ever touch her where her bathing suit goes, unless they are a doctor and they're supposed to be looking there (or someone is changing a baby's diaper).

So when the bridge collapsed, I didn't turn the channel when she was in the room. For the most part she is disinterested, and that's fine. As much as she's aware, I'm not going to hide it from her. Yesterday I asked her about who made the bridge collapse... "God" was her answer. It didn't seem scary to her, and if she asked me "why would God kill those people" I would have an answer for her... that everybody has a choice of whether they want Jesus to be their savior or not, and those that believe will go to Heaven.

If we don't let our children know that bad things happen sometimes, how are they supposed to know how to deal with them when they do happen? How are they supposed to learn not to put their hand on the stove if we don't let them know that it is hot and scary, or that walking out in the middle of the road is dangerous? When scary things happen, why not use it as a springboard to teach them? Children are not stupid. If we as adults are acting like something is amiss they will pick up on it.

My daughter looks forward to Heaven. She knows that one day Jesus is coming back, and that he might come back any day. She knows that the worst that can happen is if she died she would go to Heaven, which is better than Disneyland.

Hansel and Gretel, on the other hand, scares her. So I don't read it to her. Evidently imaginary witches living in candy houses in the middle of the forest = scary, collapsing bridges... not so scary.

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