Almost every time we turn on the television, it blares out bad news. The economy is struggling, many countries are on the brink of war and our schools are coming apart at the seams. Americans are being overcome by flash mobs and fear of the unknown. As parents, how can we protect our children from being emotionally and mentally stressed by things that are completely out of their control? How can we answer their questions in a way that will reassure them and give them a sense of stability and order?
If your child wants to talk about current events, don’t dissuade them! Children tend to define themselves by external circumstances. The worst approach to take is avoidance. This will cause your child to “fill in the blanks” and emotionally shut you out. It will promote a sense of uncertainty and fright. Bringing to light hard topics can encourage a trusting parent-child relationship. You can take an uncomfortable question-answer session and turn it into one of life’s defining moments.
Pick a time and place where you will not be interrupted. Be ready to give your full attention and let him ask questions. Be as honest as you can, without providing too much information. There is no need to unnecessarily frighten your child. Reassure him that he is safe and help him sort through conflicting emotions. Try not to shy away from a dialogue that could give insight into your child’s opinions and world views.