In the old days, we could insulate our children from the news by simply not allowing them to watch it. But now the news comes to their phones and their computers.
Usually, when I bring something up that’s happening in the world, I get an eye roll followed by: “Mom, I saw that like three hours ago on Instagram.”
Given this immediacy, when it comes to major world events, I think we need to discuss them with our children sooner rather than later and try to put them into context in an age-appropriate way. To be honest, as a journalist, I have been doing this for most of my children’s lives out of sheer necessity because they are very aware of what I do. But I also understand that it's not something that’s comfortable for everyone.
“Why?” my 11-and-a-half-year-old asked as we talked about the terror attacks in Paris. As a French student and a lover of all things Parisian, the events are rooted in very real and frightening images for her.
It wasn’t an easy question. I tried to explain that people from different cultures, different religions, and different ideologies often clashed, and sometimes these clashes prompted people, especially unstable people, to do hateful things. I also explained why I thought the magazine and the grocery store were specific targets in this situation. She listened intently and was quiet for a moment.
“But I still don’t understand why people have to kill each other,” she said shaking her head.
“I don’t either,” I replied honestly, thinking how it would probably be a much more peaceful world if kids were in charge.
She also wanted to know whether someone would hack into our television records and target us if we rented “The Interview” on pay-per-view. So, avoiding these topics is clearly not an option in this day and age when information flies into our electronic devices like cars at rush hour on I-95 whether we want it or not.
But it’s also important to realize that these issues weigh heavily on young minds and, when you’re done with the serious stuff, take the opportunity to steer the conversation in a lighter direction.
“So, what’s the latest on Bieber. Any bad behavior recently?”
Now, it’s her turn to talk …
Amanda is the mom of two, a reporter for WRAL-TV and the author of several books including some one motherhood. Find her here on Mondays.