writing letterSo your kids have heard about the Sandy Hook tragedy, and you are wondering: what's next? The answer has come to us in the most surprising place. Natalie Barden, 10-year-old sister of little Daniel Barden, one of the children killed in the shooting last week in Newtown, Connecticut, has written a letter to President Barack Obama.

The letter made public by the former chair of the Newtown Board of Education, Lillian Bittman, on Anderson Cooper's show, is impactful in no small part because it's about -- what else -- gun control. But the reason all parents -- no matter their politics -- should be listening to what little Natalie had to say isn't because of guns.

Because the letter to the president, Bittman told Cooper, isn't just a letter. It's power. It's something Natalie Barden could do, physically do, to try to make a difference in this world after losing her 7-year-old brother.

We talk a lot about helping our kids move on from this tragedy, and for many parents, that has been interpreted as simply shutting down, forgetting, refusing to talk about Sandy Hook any longer.

That might be right for some kids. In my house, we haven't even uttered the words "Sandy Hook" with our daughter, opting instead to reiterate past conversations about gun control and making her aware that if she hears anything at school that troubles her, we are here to answer any questions. For her, for us, that worked.

But for many kids who now know about Sandy Hook, simply moving on may not be enough. After all, we adults want to do something, don't we? We have lists of foundations for the Newtown victims we can send money to, addresses to send letters of support and condolence.

So why not our kids? Why wouldn't they want to do something, want to prove that they are not helpless in the face of tragedy?

This applies not just to Sandy Hook. Any tragedy in a child's life can spur a feeling that they need to act. Just look at this little girl, mourning her brother, her life in a tailspin. This, for her, was cathartic, this gave her purpose. Here's Natalie's letter to President Obama:

My name is Natalie Barden and I wanted to tell the president that only police officers and the military should get guns. If people want to do it as a sport than they could go to a shooting range and the guns would not be able to leave there.

Pretty big and amazing thing for a grieving kid to do, don't you think?

Have your kids been talking about the tragedy? How have you helped them deal?

 

Image via woodleywonderworks/Flickr