Raising Children Amid Violent Acts

Images of the tragic bomb blasts at the finish line of the Boston Marathon fill our television screens.  It feels like we are constantly barraged with frightening incidents.  In less than one year, we mourned the death of so many children in Connecticut, moviegoers in Colorado and now we pray for the innocent runners & spectators in Massachusetts.  Every time we are faced with the violence in our society, parents are faced with decisions.  Should we speak to our children about the incident or try to shield them?  How do we make them feel safe in an increasingly chaotic world?

Discussions about news that jolts us should start at home.  We are kidding ourselves if we think we can send our children to school and not have them hear about it.  While school districts may or may not open the discussion, they cannot guarantee that other children won’t mention it.  We are our children’s safe place.  It is far more frightening for them to hear scary and confusing news from others.  At an age appropriate level, we can tell our children that a very sad thing has happened.  They can see that we are upset.  We set a good example when we tell them that it is sad and we hope for the best for the people involved.  They will also see that we are well.  We are here with them doing everything we can to keep them safe.

It is important to point out to children that in every story, no matter how upsetting or tragic, we can look for the good and uplifting.  The good Samaritans who run toward the injured and the first responders who risk their lives every day should be their heroes.  They are the people that our children should admire.  We can teach our children to pray for the injured and be grateful for the brave.

We are the keepers of truth for our children.  The truth is that bad things happen and we can talk about them.  The truth is that life is a constant intermingling of happiness and sadness, tragedy and courage.  We suffer and then we pick ourselves up and heal.

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Copyright 2013 © Cindy Terebush
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  1. Through the magic of the internet, my article reached someone in Boston. She sent such a touching comment to me. With her permission, I share it with you.
    "The children seem calm today in Boston's Chinatown. We began the day gently with music, waterplay, clay and markers. Mostly the parents knew to protect them from the violent images on the news. Our families were safe and so were the staff although some were at the scene of the blast. We wait to see what images will emerge and signs of anxiety and our message to the children is that here among your teachers, friends and family you are cared for loved and safe. So far there have been no questions or comments to respond to but we wait to give a hug and reassurance that it is OK to be sad and fearful but we are here.
    Certainly we are not the first and will not be the last to have to protect the children from the violence as best we can. Remember the children sent to the countryside during World War 2, the children all over the world in war zones. It is sad and hard to grasp when it is in the city I love so well where I feel safe and at home. Today we are glad for the time we have to be with the children and families and the blessings of another day when the sun fell warm upon our faces no matter the tears in our eyes." - sent by Bernadette Davidson


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