KIDS AND THE NEWS

Do you have the news on around your children? You know… When you’re getting everyone ready for school in the morning, do you have the news on in the background? Or how about when you’re fixing dinner at night?

I have to. The news is my job. So I have it on quite a bit in my house.

I never really thought twice about this until recently. My son is 7 years old and he understands everything. And if he doesn’t understand it, he is not shy about asking questions about it.

Now, I think this CAN be very educational.

For example, last Thursday we had a very interesting conversation about the weather. There were some serious storms around the bay area and a tornado and a waterspout was even spotted.

Cameron, my son, had a trillion questions. So we got into an in-depth conversation about what we would do if a tornado ever came close to our house. And that morphed into a conversation about hurricanes and even earthquakes.

I told him about the hurricane season of 2004. If you have lived around the bay area long enough, you remember it well. It was one hurricane or tropical storm after another. I explained to him what hurricanes are, that our meteorologists are wonderful and that we would have plenty of time to prepare and get to safety.

It was nice to have this conversation in a calm, soothing way… And just give him the facts.Florida - Hurricane Frances Approaching (2004)

But then, there’s the flip side of the coin.

There’s A LOT of bad news in the world. And that stuff is harder to explain.

Just this week, a woman in a minivan drove her three children into the ocean and tried to kill them.

Cameron had questions.

So, I had to explain some tough stuff to my son.

He wanted to know why a mommy would try and kill her own children.

So, I sat Cameron down and talked to him about how some people have a lot of issues up in their brain. And that causes them to do things that are unthinkable.

I told him that there were a lot of signs that something was wrong with this woman and I gave him a lot of hugs and told him how much he was loved and that he was perfectly safe.

I assured him that the children in that minivan are just fine… and the mommy is now getting help.

And then there was the Sandy Hook school shooting from last December.

It was just horrific… You heard about it everywhere… There was no avoiding it.

So, instead of pretending it didn’t exist and trying to shield Cameron from it, I had a conversation with him about it… And what he should do if he ever found himself in a situation like that.

sandyhookcnn

I know that a lot of moms may be judging me right now for letting Cameron see those stories…. And having those conversations with him.

But, here’s my point of view.

Cameron is VERY smart. And I would rather he hear the truth from me… And let me explain it in a gentle way… Than if he would hear the story somewhere else and be freaked.

I think every child is different. After I was done explaining it to him, he seemed satisfied with my answers and went on his way.

My daughter, when she gets old enough to comprehend the news, may be different. My husband and I may not feel she is emotionally ready to handle some of the stuff she may hear.

But we will take that on a child by child basis.

Now, I admit, there have been times that I have hurdled over the couch and grabbed the remote and switched the channel in lightning speed. Some stories are so gross that I don’t want to listen to them, let alone subject my 7 year old to them.

Especially in Tampa Bay. We are notorious for our fair share of outrageous, sensationalistic “news” stories…

But, overall, I haven’t seen any adverse effects from letting Cameron watch the news. In fact, he can name the president, vice-president, governor and have really intelligent conversations about a wide range of topics.

But again.. like so much in this world.. this is a decision every parent must make for themselves.

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One Response to KIDS AND THE NEWS

  1. Leslie Farrell March 10, 2014 at 10:16 am #

    Hi Laura,

    I really like your blog about the news because it is something many parents struggle with. I heard early on as a parent to “shelter your children from the news.” The news is part of my business also, being that I’ve worked for almost two decades in publicity at the Straz Center, so although I’ve always had newspapers around, listen to NPR, watched TV news, but I tried to do most of this when my children weren’t home. We’d usually watch Sunday morning news and sometimes 60 Minutes, which they like, but years went by with my “sheltering” them – and then I realized (with some dismay) that my oldest was about 12 and still had not had much exposure to the news! I remember thinking maybe I should have exposed my three children to more along the way. We did discuss news events, but I tried (and still do sometimes) to block out the most disturbing stories.

    Ironically, I have adult friends who avoid the news. They say it’s all “bad news.” I pointed out an inspiring newspaper story to a news-avoiding attorney friend about a Patel Conservatory dance student who has Downs Syndrome and has performed internationally. His comment? “Oh yes! But if my eyes stray down here, I read about a child molester.”

    So yes, I agree with you. There isn’t really a blanket answer for parents, but at least some exposure can be good. Our children will likely hear about things elsewhere anyway and if they’ve already learned about it in our homes with our guidance, they should feel more secure.