July 23, 2012

Why I Won’t Tell My Daughter about the Tragedy at Penn State or the Killing Spree in Aurora, Colorado


Despite what some may think, or even say, not every kid needs to know about what’s going on in the world. We don’t watch the news on TV, BabyGirl is not on the internet searching current events and I’m not going to tell her about something that may worry or scare her just so she knows.

I’m a helicopter parent. Not my definition about how I parent, but if the dress fits…. I try not to care what other people think about my parenting choices. I’ve already sat before a judge in a court of law and had my parenting style, choices and decisions dissected to utter minutiae. Question my parenting style now and my pain threshold is so high I may not even feel it.

I’ve seen status updates on Facebook about how they should tell their kids, that their kids won’t understand why they’re being hugged so much today, about not letting their kids out of their site. Twitter is the same, only in fewer characters. There’s a lot of questioning about how these events will change who they are as parents.

I get that. To some degree. The news talks about how these two events hit close to home. I disagree. For the majority of us, these type of events hit no more close to home than the shooting that left many dead and Congresswoman Giffords fighting for her life after a deranged lunatic opened fire outside a grocery store. Did people stop going to the market? Did they feel the need to try and explain this to their young kids? I didn’t hear a lot of that back then.

This time though, both events deal more with our kids. Our kids go to camp, to the movies. By themselves. And while I fully admit both of these events are horrific, for the average person nothing in how life goes along really changed.

This isn’t the first time kids have been molested by a trusted person. If not being able to trust your kids with “these people” is the reason for changing how one parents then there’s always going to be a state of flux. There will be no “normal” because there are freaks like these everywhere! I didn’t hear a lot of discussion about parenting differently when Elisabeth Smart or Jaycee Dugard were in the news. Those were “one off” situations. Stuff like that is an anomaly.

I’ve shared my story with people and yet I know people who blew it off as if it weren’t something that could happen to them. Why is this different? Because it’s in our face 24/7, plastered on the news, the internet, social media? Because it could happen?

Before Aurora, there was Columbine. Jonesboro. The DC Sniper. The Son of Sam. There were gymnastics schools that hired coaches with a history of “questionable” conduct. There were preschools and high schools and entire religious organizations. But we didn’t stop sending out kids out in the world.

Instead, what we did was give our kids tools to do the best they can when faced with a difficult situation. We teach our kids that we’ll believe them NO MATTER WHAT. We teach our kids not to be a bully and to tell us when others are. We give our kids opportunities to learn life skills.

I shelter my daughter. I’m aware of what I do. It’s one of my coping mechanisms. But I’m also keenly aware that it’s my job to help her feel safe and by locking her away that’s not going to happen. The world in 2012 is not like it was when I was growing up in the 1970s and 80s. It’s not like there are crazier things going on now. Maybe there are. But with minute-by-minute access to what’s happening around the globe everything seems so personal. Few of us stop driving cars because we read about a horrible auto accident. And very few abandoned air travel when a plane went down in the Hudson. But this? Is is more personal or just more information that makes us afraid.

There are parents who, every day, send their young kids out to play or put them on a bus or a subway or drop them off somewhere. Soon many will send their kids back to school. Today many parents drop their kids off at camp, thankful for the few hours their kids are in someone else’s care.

It’s not my job to scare the bejezus out of my daughter. It’s my job to arm her with the confidence to feel safe in the world. She already knows evil people walk among us. But I try to teach her that there is always more good in the world and living life boldly means that we can’t spend out time thinking about the bad that can happen.

Have you told your kids about these recent events? Is it important for you that they know this type of thing happens?

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Honey July 23, 2012 at 5:17 pm

I had no intention of sharing with my kids, but my oldest saw a news article about Aurora, so we talked about it. We didn’t hyper focus on it, but we did discuss it and it has not come up again since.

I think every family will deal with these kinds of tragedies in their own way and we need to respect that they know what kind of discussion and how much is best for their children.


Sara July 23, 2012 at 10:03 pm

Honey, you’re right that each family will need to decide what’s best for their children. Sounds like your oldest may have just wanted a little reassurance. Glad you have the open communication so he knew he could ask.

~ Sara

CycleGuy July 23, 2012 at 5:33 pm

You are not a helicopter Mom, you are a caring, focused professional mother whose work is never done. And it needs to be understood that you do not hide this from her, if she finds out she can ask and we will be truthful but if she does not ask then there is no need to provide her the details of all things evil in the world. As you say we just have to remember to not let fear rule how we raise our children

Sara July 23, 2012 at 10:04 pm

CycleGuy, true, it’s not about hiding the information from her. Rather, there are just some things kids don’t need to take on.

Thanks for being a great dad!

~ Sara

Shifra July 23, 2012 at 6:24 pm

What cycleguy said. Exactly. You’re awesome. So is he. I’m not bringing it up with my kids.

Sara July 23, 2012 at 10:06 pm

Shifra, Thanks for sharing your perspective and that you won’t be bringing it up with your kids. You’re so tuned in to what your kids need and what’s best for them, I think for each family they need to decide what will work best.

~ Sara

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