Why we should talk to our kids about the Las Vegas shooting
At the corner of Sunset Rd.and Las Vegas Blvd., mourners attend a candlelight vigil for the victims of Sunday night's mass shooting, Oct. 3, 2017 in Las Vegas. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
“Life is short and the world is at least half terrible, and for every kind stranger, there is one who could break you, though I keep this from my children. I am trying to sell them the world. Any decent realtor, walking you through a real s---hole, chirps on about good bones: this place could be beautiful right? You could make this place beautiful.” — excerpt from Good Bones by Maggie Smith
While this poem was originally written by a mother of two in 2015, it rings true for many parents today as the world recovers from a series of tragic events.
Parents struggle with balancing the overwhelming feelings of fear, anxiety, and heartache, while trying to keep their children protected from the harsh realities of the world.
As Maggie Smith, the author of the poem above, stated in a recent interview, parents wonder “how do we stay honest and also stay hopeful? Sometimes it’s hard enough to be optimistic, let alone project optimism to others.”
While it would be nice to keep it all from our children and maintain a positive perspective on life, it’s important for our kids to develop a balanced outlook, with an awareness of both the happy and the heinous happenings that are occurring around us.
The reality is, while some parents would prefer to keep their children in the dark, their kids are likely to hear about the tragic events in the classroom, at the grocery store, or when parents are discussing them in hushed voices at home.
Children will most likely become aware of a tragic event, and it’s up to us to talk to them about it — before they are left to jump to conclusions on their own or rely on unreliable sources like their peers for answers.
In a recent interview with CBS New York regarding the shooting in Las Vegas, psychologist Dr. Harris Stratyner shares that it is extremely crucial to discuss these tragic events with children, but he also emphasizes that the key message should be to reassure them that they are safe, and that there are people who are there to protect them and ensure their safety.
“For children seven and older, you can’t pretend that things like this never happen, so don’t, but be positive and encouraging,” he says.
For younger children, it’s best to keep the news and digital stories and imagery out of sight, and focus on broader messages without getting into too much detail about the specific event.
It comes down to this: The way you respond will greatly impact the way your children learn to cope, understand, and react to their surroundings.
Don’t hide the truth from them, teach them how to be compassionate, resilient human beings. If we only focus on the "good bones," our children will never learn how to make this place beautiful again.