How many times in the past few months have you asked yourself, what is going on with the world today?
We are living in strange times and as our children get older, they encounter the news whether we want them to or not. This means we are faced with the difficult task of explaining the headlines in a way they can understand.
So where does that leave us parents? Should we shelter our children to protect their innocence, or should we be honest with them and embrace the inevitable? Should we put our own spin on things, or let them decide for themselves?
I can only speak for myself – an admitted news junkie — and my own family. I subscribe to three dead tree newspapers (yes, I know, I’m a dinosaur); religiously watch the network newscasts and usually have a news chat show (MSNBC’s Morning Joe) playing in the background in the mornings as my kids are getting ready for school. News is all around my children, on the TV, on the kitchen table and in the air itself. And I accept it.
While some may think it’s best to shield their kids from the horror that is the nine’o’clock news, that’s a strategy that can backfire. Children who are old enough to follow the news but not old enough to understand it can become jaded and unhappy, or even angry. Without parental support, they might become scared of the world they live in. But with your involvement, they can safely learn while still being exposed to the reality of current events.
You might want to make some exceptions. Graphic videos and images, for example – kids don’t need to see that. When my husband and I discuss the lack of jobs and the mortgage crisis, we make sure to give our kids some context so they don’t worry that we’re going to become homeless. When we talk about the uprisings in the Middle East, we explain what’s going on so they can appreciate the freedoms we have here in America. But we make sure to let them know that they are safe here.
It’s a worrisome time to be an adult right now. There’s a strange feeling in the air. Older kids will pick up on that even if we try and shield them from the news. And as I try to make sense of the disturbing news, I’m reminded why I want to protect them. But then again, they’re used to things that aren’t pretty. And with my help, they can explore the world without living in fear.