If you have young children …

Sandy Hook

I don’t want to talk about what happened in Connecticut. Not yet. But I feel compelled to say a few words about one area of this tragedy.

What if you have young children?

My advice is to do your best to shelter them from this. They might find it terrifying in a way that no little child should be terrified. Keep your tv tuned to other things. Don’t talk about it in front of them.

If they go to daycare or school, you need to prepare them for what they will hear there. Tell them about what happened in as few words as they will understand. Do it calmly. Then tell them that they are safe. Inoculate them against fear.

If, on the other hand, they encounter something that does scare them — through other kids at day care, their school, or maybe seeing the news coverage — then it’s very important for you to be calm and not over dramatize it. No “how could anyone do this?” in front of your babies. I don’t mean downplay it. What I mean is don’t scare them further. You have to tell them that you will keep them safe. Mommy and Daddy will take care of you. That has to be the message.

I would make a point of going to my child’s school or day care and having a frank talk with the teachers and principal about how they are going to handle this. In fact, I might decide to be in the classroom when it is discussed. If your child is scared, take off work and go spend a few hours at the school or day care, just sitting in. It does wonders for your child to see you there. If, for some reason, the school objects, then keep them home. In fact, at that point, I would consider alternative educational choices.

I know that right now you feel like you’re whistling your way through the deepest dark. I know that you are asking yourself how can any parent keep their child safe in a world like this. But don’t share those fears with them. Talk, instead to your spouse, that other person who loves them as much as you do. If you are a single parent, share your fears with an adult you trust, not your children. Divorced parents should, if possible, still unite in talking to their children about this and making them feel safe. If that’s not possible, do the best you can, and do not use this as some back-handed way to attack your former spouse.

My children went to public schools for a brief while; two and a half years for one of them. Quite frankly, that is the one thing I regret most about how I raised them. I’ll go into more details about why I feel that way in another post. The point for what I’m saying now is that one of my sweet babies was in school the day of the bombing here in Oklahoma City. Someone deliberately killed little children, parked a bomb under a day care, that day, too. Children who were in that bombing and who were grievously injured are members of our parish.

I am not going to say any more. I don’t have any magical advice that will make this easy for parents of young children. You are faced with a serious situation here. Do all you can to keep this tragedy from stripping your children of their security and innocence.

I will pray for you and for all parents of young children in the days to come.


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  • Sus

    Thank you Rebecca. This is good advice for parents. I got up this morning and could not face trying to shield my 5 from the TV. We put them in the car and drove to the state forest and had a long winter hike and picnic.

    The impression I got from my kids about this frightened me to the core. I barely slept last night. My kids are USED to this violence. They have grown up with school shootings. They seem to EXPECT it.

    All my husband and I have done about no play guns, no violent video games, inspecting their iPods to make sure there aren’t inappropriate lyrics, not allowing them to hit each other, everything we’ve done feels useless right now.

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      Sus, our culture is poison for children. But it sounds like you have a wonderful home. Any mother who is willing to take the kids for a long winter hike and picnic to avoid this horror will bring her chicks safely to adulthood. Just spend time with them (as you do) and pray your heart out.

      • Sus

        Thank you for the encouraging words.

    • Niemand

      You’re trying to get rid of the wrong guns. Video game guns don’t shoot real bullets. Decrease the number of guns in the populace and you’ll decrease both the number of gun deaths and the total number of murders in the country. Australia did it and has had a decline in the murder rate and the number of murders committed with guns.

      • Rebecca Hamilton

        This is NOT THE TIME to talk about political issues. We’ll do that later. But for now, stop it.

  • http://mywordwall.wordpress.com Imelda

    You know, what I wish to understand is why do so many commit these grievous acts these days. They act as if killing not one but a score of human beings is the best thing to do, the easiest thing to do, might even be the kind thing to do? Why are people, especially the young ones pushed to this kind of evil and despair? Could it be that the systematic removal of God in the life of the society left a void in people’s lives and rendered existence meaningless? Oh well…

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      That is the question we all face. Why? In the end, there is no answer that would make sense to us because these acts are outside anything we would consider. We are not people who do these kinds of things and we cannot understand those who do.

  • Jeanne Schmelzer

    My hypothesis is that the violence in the abortion industry and the fact that it has become so commonplace in our society shows that we have a violent murderous society. Could the violence of killing the unborn be transferred to the weakest links in society such as the emotionally, mentally ill, and others? Also the violence in video games makes it seem to be normal behavior in real life because certain people can’t tell the difference between imaginary and real. Kid’s brains are very tender and absorbent like putty. As we say about computers “Garbage in, Garbage out”.

  • Sydney

    I can’t believe some one would do something so sick as that!!!

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      I think we all feel this way.

  • Kathleen

    Sus’ comment summoned up a memory from June 1968, the Robert Kennedy assassination, at the end of eighth grade. Here We Go Again and He’s Gonna Die, the gist of comments with my buddies. We were (almost) used to it! We should never have known the word assassination until adulthood. But this is a demonic escalation isn’t it? This pattern of violence.