Do I Bring Up the School Shooting With My Kids?

Like many parents across the country, I’ve been fighting back tears as I tried to glean information from the web today on this horrific Newtown tragedy in my home state of Conn. and then as I tried to figure out how I was explaining the violence to my kids.

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In the wake of this latest school shooting, folks have been posting helpful resources to guide us parents on how to talk to our kidsBrene Brown links to some wonderful resources, including an American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) resource on school shootings, then cites Mr. Rogers who encourages us to look for “helpers” in the face of tragedy.

Boy, lately we seem a long way from the world of Mr. Rogers.  And can you even believe the AAP has a section on school shootings?

ABC News ran this helpful guideline about how to handle and talk about the news with your children depending on their respective ages.

So I do understand that if my children bring up the Newtown school shooting, I am supposed to reassure them that they are safe and invite them to share their feelings and fears.  I think I can do that.

But my question is this: Do I bring it up?   My boys are coming home on the bus in a few minutes from after school sports and I have no idea if they know or not.  And yes, they will see me looking teary.

This feeling of not knowing what to say, not knowing what can be said, of feeling ignorant and powerless in the face of bigger events, or not knowing the right way to go or the right thing to do, is to me so much a part of being a parent.

I feel acutely aware of the huge gap that stands between me and my young children, the oldest being 8 years old.  He can talk a big game, but I still don’t feel like I can tell him that the world is completely imperfect, that there is a big bad wolf, that bad people do bad things that hurt others… not in that way anyhow.

So if they ask, I think I will follow the prescribed advice of reassuring my kids that they are safe and answering their questions honestly without getting into too much detail.

But if they don’t ask?  If nothing comes up?  Is it just a night like any other?

I thought I would ask anyone reading this: have you told or are you going to tell your children about today, or just answer their questions?  I’m still deciding what to do.  I feel too numb to know what to do, actually.  So if anyone has good advice for me, I would really appreciate hearing it.

Sending my love and prayers to the parents in Conn. and to all of you.