Dealing With Tough Issues
Every morning while I’m watching the news, the kids slowly wander into my bedroom and climb into bed with me. Beginning my day with a news program is something I have done since I was a kid, and it is something that I missed during those years when my teaching career had me leaving the house before the 7:00 a.m. start time of my favorite show. As much as I like to spend time getting caught up on the latest events, once my kids were no longer infants, I began muting the television and reading the closed captions until I saw the weather, then I turned the TV off completely. Now that both of my kids can read, the closed captions aren’t even a help. If the TV is on – sound or no sound – they are drawn to it like moths to a flame.
Unfortunately, as much as I would like to just shut the world out with the push of a button, it’s impossible to shelter kids from everything. My daughter’s elementary school is raising money for tsunami victims, and her father just travelled to some locations for work where there is political unrest. My kids certainly sense when there are larger issues causing stress not just on our family, but on the world in general.
The key is to make sure that the information they receive is age appropriate. There is no need to discuss terrorism and all that it involves in order to make them aware of current affairs. They are learning about our own government and electoral system, so it is much easier to simply talk about countries where the citizens are unhappy with how the country is currently run. Every child who has ever gone floppy and refused to go to bed knows the power of civil disobedience! As for the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, we skipped the footage of the death and destruction and instead sat together while Al Roker explained with animation the cause of the earthquake and the tsunami that followed. When he was finished with his science lesson, we turned the television off and explained that many, many people died, and we should pray for the country and the families.
While initially my children tend to ask very logical questions regarding specifics when something upsetting occurs in the world or the community, after some time the more emotional questions begin to surface. As long as they know that they can ask us anything and come to us any time, I’m confident that they will be able to process the information that they’re receiving. But for now, I’m still happy to act as that morning news filter…