I’m pretty sure someone stole my rose colored glasses and broke them into a million pieces. Watching the news, hearing the horrors of heinous acts globally and locally, learning of atrocities in my own quiet little town make me want to hole up, hold my babies close and never leave my house again.
But that’s not okay. I believe in being the light in dark places. I want my kids to believe that, too. I’m often tempted to sugar coat everything and hide them away from the bad things of the world, but I know that’s not the best thing for them or me. That’s me letting fear control me.
So how do you explain human trafficking, chemical weapons being used on children, kidnappings in Target, abortion, abuse and many awful things to children? I don’t know the answer for your family, but here are four guides I work with when talking to my own children.
1. Just do it
The most important thing isn’t how you do it. The important thing is that you do it. Period. Talking to my kids about what to do if someone abducts them makes me want to vomit, but it could happen and I need them to be prepared.
2. Ask questions to see what they know already
I homeschool my kids and am responsible for 85% of the information they receive and I’m often blown away by how much else they hear in that little remaining 15% of information. So when they come to me with a question, I want to know specifically what they’ve heard and how much they understand.
No matter what percentage of their learning you’re directly involved with, you’ll know where to start once you better understand what they’ve heard or learned elsewhere.
3. Keep it bite sized until they’re ready
I have children ranging from 4 years old to 12 years old. Naturally, the 12 year old can handle a lot more information than the 4 year old. For example, the old favorite, “where do babies come from?”… the answer for young kids can be simple.
Older kids have a few more questions but instead of going into too many details that will make him/her squirm, try little bits at a time until they’re satisfied for now. They will come back with more questions eventually.
4. Keep it honest
If you want your kids to keep coming to you, answer their questions truthfully. They need to trust you. Trust is broken when information is kept from them. This doesn’t mean that you have to confess every awful thing you’ve ever done, but acknowledging that you learned some lessons the hard way is a good thing. Kids need to realize that parents were once a confused, self-conscious kid too.
It’s important to my husband and me to create a safe environment for our kids to talk to us. I’m often tempted to hide them away from the world, but we want them to be lights in the world – the real world. Not a sanitized fantasy world.
Need a few more tips? Check out this post, too!