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Heartbreaking

Why I Told My Kids About the Sandy Hook Shooting

by Andrew Kardon on December 18, 2012 at 3:48 PM

classroomLike most parents, I spent this past weekend trying to comprehend the tragic events that took place in Newtown, Connecticut. While it's impossible to make sense of a senseless situation, I kept at it, hoping to come up with some reasoning.

As a parent, I received a number of phone calls and emails from my kids' schools informing us about how to talk to our kids if we wanted to. They alerted us that the school's preparing teachers to handle any questions kids may have. Whether or not we wanted to tell our kids was entirely up to us.

What made the most sense to me was that if the kids were going to find out about it, it's better to come from their parents than from their classmates at school. We didn't say anything on Friday, as the news was still so raw.

Then Saturday came. My wife was at work and I was in the kitchen reading the newspaper, while the kids sat with me as they ate their breakfast. I just kept looking at them and thinking what it'd be like if it had been their school that was targeted. I thought how unbearable it would be to look at those empty chairs that used to be filled with such life. Such laughter. Such innocence.

I really thought about it. Should I tell them? My oldest son is 9 and should be able to handle it. My younger, however, is 7 and is the one who usually asks 19 million questions. Was I prepared for that? Could he handle the truth?

No one wants to destroy their kids' House of Innocence. But at some point, you have to make them aware that there are some incredibly evil people in the world. Sometimes bad things happen to very good people.

So I told them. I told them that something horrible happened. At a school in Connecticut, a very bad man did a very bad thing. He shot and killed a lot of people, some were teachers, and some were even kids.

I didn't mention ages or the number of people killed. I just wanted them to know the basic facts. They asked a few questions like, "When did it happen?" and "Why did the bad guy do that?"

I answered as best I could and told them to always feel free to come talk to us if they're ever scared, confused, or had any questions at all. They seemed satisfied with it and were a bit shocked and definitely sad to hear the news. Then they bounced back, went into the other room, and started playing together.

Yes, it's definitely tough watching your kids grow up and lose that innocence. But the alternative, as we saw in Sandy Hook Elementary last week, is infinitely worse.

Did you tell your kids about the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting?


Photo via Bart Everson/Flickr

Filed Under: education, elementary school, in the news, safety

Comments

4
  • Mae
    -- Nonmember comment from

    Mae

    December 18, 2012 at 4:40 PM
    Yes I did tell my kids about it--they are 10 and 7, and I wanted them to hear it from me instead of other kids who may not know the accurate information. It was tough to tell them but i did, and I also made sure to emphasize the security measures their school takes and let them know they are just as safe there as they are in the car with me, at the grocery store, at the mall, etc. Kids are relatively resilient and my view is that I should prepare them for the world, both good and bad.
  • LoveM...
    --

    LoveMyKBabies

    December 18, 2012 at 5:09 PM
    I told my oldest. She could tell I was upset & asked why. I told her a very bad man hurt a lot of kids & some of their very brave teachers. Then she asked me if the kids died. I broke down a little but I told her yes. Then she asked if the kids were little like her. I told her yes, they were the same age as her (7) & her brother (6). My DD is a very loving kid, I think if she could, she would be in CT right now, hugging the mommies, daddies, grandparents, etc., that can't hug their own babies anymore & trying to make them smile.
  • SuzyB...
    --

    SuzyBarno

    December 18, 2012 at 5:11 PM
    I would have told my kids if they were old enough. My kids are 1 and 3. I really wouldn't want them finding out on the play ground so I would tell them. I think you did right by telling your kids. We have to prepare our kids for the horrible things that happen in life. My daughter is 3 and we have started talking about Stranger Danger and practicing yelling it if someone approaches her. I feel my discussion about other worldly issues starts there. And who knows, my conversations may one day save her life.
  • Dave
    -- Nonmember comment from

    Dave

    December 18, 2012 at 10:45 PM
    I admire you for doing it ... but no, I didn't tell any of my kids (ages 10, 7, and 3). My kids ar fairly sheltered when it comes to bad things in the world. The way I see it, once you take away their innocence, it never comes back. So we're keeping the magic around as long as we can.
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