Talking to our children about Paris

By Nick D’Andrea, 11/16/2015

This was the first weekend in a long time that I had nothing planned, so I was able to see a lot of coverage and differing viewpoints about the terrorist attacks on Paris.  I saw the atrocities, the analysis and memorials.  I found that two of my cousins had been in Paris flew back home to Italy that morning, and I breathed a sigh of relief.  One thing I did not do was allow my two daughters to watch it, and I also did not talk to them about.  My daughters are still a little young (6 and 3) and I didn’t find the need to expose them to this as the still probably don’t comprehend.  But for the parents with children of age, is it a topic that needs to be discussed?  I think so.

There are many ways to handle this with children or teenagers and parents (and adults) need to be careful how they handle it.  Personally, if I were in the situation of talking to an older child, I would listen first.  Find out what they know and let them lead the conversation, and talk to their initial thoughts and feelings.  Try to keep it on point with what happened and I would try not to disperse my personal feelings and beliefs too much on the subject, unless they ask

I would reinforce to them that we are safe and try to calm any fear they may be feeling.  They are still young and impressionable and there is nothing worse than a scared child.  It may be a daunting task to convince them that they are safe right now as they hear news of gunmen, suicide bombers and propaganda videos, but their safety needs to be re-emphasized.

I would keep their routines the same as always, don’t change anything that goes on in their lives.  It’s easy for this to be accomplished now as the incidences happened half a world away, but I can’t help but think of parents’ post 9/11.  Our world changed after that day and for a parent keeping a routine was difficult, but parents managed somehow.  The same should still apply

If my first grader comes home today and asks about Paris, I will listen, talk and then I will hug her, reinforcing her safety.  This is a scary time for the world but our children don’t need to be scared.  They just need to know they are safe.

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