We live in a scary world. I am not sure if it’s really darker than the days of the Holocaust, the days of the Mongol conquests, or any time the world has been at war. We just live in an age when news happens instantaneously and what is a world away seems like it’s in our back door. It’s really easy to be scared by news in today’s world.
And that’s any day you turn on the local, national or world report. And even though I would love to shelter my kids from all the bad in the world, there is so much more I want my kids to know about our scary world.
Affiliate links included to books at the end of this post that may help explain difficult times or the similarities of all humanity to them.
I vividly remember the attacks on the Murrah Building in Oklahoma City in 1995 . It’s what psychologists call a flashbulb memory because it’s seared into our minds for eternity.
I was in elementary school when it happened and I can vividly recall questions my brother asked our parents about “Why is that man carrying the bloody woman out of the building still in her chair?”.
We lived in Oklahoma at the time, but we lived almost two hours away from where the bombing happened. But in my mind, it happened two minutes away and it could happen to me too.
While today I don’t really want my kids watching the news or hearing about bombings, terror attacks, and beheadings, it’s very much a part of the scary world we live in. And if I think about both the OKC bombings and 9/11, they are events that my parents didn’t shield from me even though I was young.
And it makes me think about how my kids might actually benefit from knowing about some of the things happening and some of the details behind the events.
So while I pray for the people affected by the attacks and terrorism all over the world, I realize that I can help my kids look for the helpers, like Mr. Rogers once said. And in so doing I am not raising them in the spirit of fear, but in the spirit of compassion.
What I want my kids to learn about humanity even in a dark world.
There is solidarity in Humanity.
I want my children to know that it doesn’t matter if something horrible happens next door or literally on the other side of the world. That our hearts should weep for those in need, in pain, and mourning tragic loss.
It doesn’t matter if as a human race we are seemingly flawed. Because as humans, not one of us will ever be perfect. What matters is that we have compassion for our fellow man. That we pray for those that are hungry, those that are hurting, and those that are wrongfully hurt in any way.
I want my kids to know what it means that we stand against terrorism, trafficking, and even self pride. Because when we learn to embrace each other as community regardless of race, ethnicity, or anything else, we learn empathy and compassion.
We have nothing to lose by helping others.
Like the quote about the candle not losing any of its light by lighting the next, our children can learn that they can create light in a dark world by helping and caring for others who are less fortunate or have been afflicted in some way.
And there may be angry people in this world, but as a family, we don’t have to participate in the hate.
Even small acts of kindness can go a long way.
The simple smile, the gift of a warm meal to the homeless, and working to truly get to know your neighbors are all ways to help our children understand the world they live in and their place in it. Not only does it create a sense of community, it fosters the love needed to connect with people.
It’s small actions that lead to big actions, that lead to ideas and movements, that in turn can change the world.
There is always a way to help those who need help.
I want to show my kids that when someone is a world away, we can still help, we can make donations to places like Doctors without Borders in sistuations like the Paris Attack and we can get hands-on involved in situations that plague our own community.
Getting our hands dirty as a family to serve those who lost everything in the tornadoes of May 2013 is a way that we gave back to our community and we did it with our oldest daughter when she was 6 months at the time. She watched everything from my back and even played in the toy donation room helping “give” toys to kids who had just lost the ones they owned.
While not everything in this world is happy, we all experience the whole range of emotions.
It’s all about teaching our children that what is below the skin is all the same. No matter what we look like, where we live, how we dress, or our cultural upbringing, we all experience joy, pain, and sadness similarly.
Lately I have been reading several books to my daughter like Whoever You Are that reaffirm the idea that we are are unique individuals, but we all feel similar pains and joys. It helps in the hard times to teach children that people all over the world are celebrating & rejoicing, but also struggling and mourning.
Listen to my podcast about explaining terrorism to young kids
Start talking to your kids about world events and terrorism
Ages 0-5: Discuss with your children that some people in another part of the world unnecessarily hurt someone else. Ask them how it feels when someone else kicks, hits, or pinches them for no reason. Plan ways to give back to others and how they can be kind today.
Ages 6-12: Talk about where the event happened. Ask your child questions about anything they have seen or heard about the events. Ease any fears they have. See what your child would like to do for those affected? (Donate, pray, collect items for the families affected, etc..) And/or see what your child wishes to do to better his/her own community.
Ages 13-18: Spend time talking about the world as a whole and why this sort of thing happens, even if it seems like it is random. Ask them how they feel and how they personally could make the world a better place either big or small. Encourage them to counter bad with good, to bless those around them, and to daily pursue random asks of kindness to do in your community
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