As our thoughts have been drawn today to France and to Paris in the wake of the tragedy of the terrorist attacks yesterday, I feel a bit ill-equipped as a parent. My daughter is in sixth grade–old enough to have some understanding of the scope of the event, of the larger global context, and of the anxiety such attacks produce in the free world.
However, the graphic nature of the news reports makes me uncomfortable allowing her to watch much on TV or on through her iPhone or computer. In the advent of HD, and of uncut, live-feeds, I worry about both parenting that would allow us to let her see too much AND that would push us to let her see too little.
My instinct is to make sure that:
- we reassure children that that they are safe.
- what we watch and read, we watch and read together.
- we limit exposure to media, particularly repetition of dramatic and graphic video.
- we discuss what we watch and read without the TV or device running concurrently all the time.
- we do things together away from media that represent a maintaining of our routines and connectedness to each other. This afternoon, we are going hiking.
- we don’t oversimplify, minimize, or exaggerate the situation for her.
- when we don’t know an answer to a question from our child, we don’t pretend we do. Instead we seek an answer together.
Some questions I have:
- where can parents find appropriate resources to support our kids in moments where global uncertainty is in ascendency?
- what signs of anxiety should we be aware of in our children in such moments?
- where are the media sources that, while maintaining the highest standards of journalism, produce content consistently appropriate for younger audiences?
In the end, it is our loving connection to our children that provides them comfort. They need to voice their questions, worries, and opinions in a safe environment.