With so many disturbing developments in the Connecticut shooting case, have you discussed the news with your children? Parents on Facebook.com/HLN shared their insight and experiences in dealing with this difficult conversation.
Lashonda N. said she did not talk to her child because they are too young. Instead, she coped by writing down her own thoughts. "I did email 'future them' about it. I want them to know how it impacted their parents and nation, real time. They can read it when they're adults," she wrote.
When Juanita E.'s child said she didn't want to talk about the shooting, she wasn't sure what to do. So we asked clinical and forensic psychologist Michael Brannon, Psy. D for advice. “Parents should not force kids to talk about this event or try to inquire as to whether it really bothers them,” he said. “Some kids like to talk about it to feel some sense of comfort. However, some other kids would rather work it out inside of their own head and they're pretty skilled at doing that.”
When Chantal N.’s little boy wanted to play outside with his Nerf gun, she told him to stay inside. “Is that ok?” she wondered.
“It is never a good idea to model a behavior that when done in real life could result in harm to another human being. This is especially the case with all of the recent tragic events. If children are allowed to engage in periods of 'play violence' they should also be encouraged to engage in equal amounts of time of pro-social behavior,” Dr. Brannon responded.
Many parents also said they wanted to protect their child's innocence and would not be discussing the shooting with their children. “I choose to keep my stepson in the dark about it. He's 9, and I don't want him to have to think about how horrible the world is. Not yet,” Kyi M. wrote.
But Justine M. says she would rather be the first to break the news to her children. “I'd rather they hear it from me than hear it from other kids at school. My son is in kindergarten and my daughter is in third grade. I won't go into gruesome details with them being so young, but they know a bad bad man went into a school and did very bad things. It's everywhere...every channel, every radio station, they are GOING to hear it SOMEWHERE!"
Others like Nicole W. say they fear the news will make their children not want to go back to school. “If by some chance he would hear about it from someone else, then I would answer everything honestly. But until then, he doesn't need to know.”
Tiffany P. addressed the issue by talking to her child about safety. “I tell my 8-year-old daughter to be like a safety monitor. Make sure the gates are locked and shut when passing by, make sure her classroom outside door is locked...be aware of suspicious people.”
Moms Lucia C. and Kelly C. shared their conversations with their children on our Facebook page as well. “I have a 13-year-old boy who I began talking about this with. He became very upset and started to cry. I thought he was scared, but he told me he was crying for the little babies and how much it hurt to know that they died. We talked a little about what he would do if he heard something like this happening in his school, and I held him and explained that he was safe, loved and will be OK. Now the TV is off and it will stay this way,” Lucia C. commented.
“My son is 14. I had to pick him up yesterday; I just needed him with me. He went in his room to play his video game then came out and laid on the bed with me and said, ‘No matter how old you are, you can't be safe. But if it's your time, it's your time.’ I couldn't have said it any better,” Kelly C. wrote.
What advice do you have for other parents? Leave your comments below.