Colorado Aftermath: Talking with Your Kids About It

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As I grapple with what to post on a day like today, a day that our nation is reeling from the horrific events in Colorado, I don’t know what to say or what angle to even write about.  I had recently thought about an event like this occurring at our local movie theatre.  I think about it when I take my kids to the mall, to a busy restaurant and yes recently, I thought about that unspeakable scenario at a movie theatre.

As a parent, it is what you do….you picture the worst, hope for the best and prepare your kids the best you can.  However, advising them on what to do if they are ever caught in a mass shooting is not something that I had imagined that I would have to include in my parenting 101 skills.  And the fact that I do have to add this conversation to my list of “be carefuls” makes me angry and heart-broken to say the least.

So as we digested the news yesterday, prayed for the victims, the survivors, the families and the first responders, we talked about our feelings.  My teenager wanted to discuss gun control and how the media was covering this huge tragedy.   So we did and I found that we even debated when it came to our opinions about gun control….that part of our discussion was a surprise to me and I had to remind myself that he is turning into a young adult now.   And it is important that I acknowledge and have the conversations that he wants to have.  I always welcome the times that my teen wants to talk with me!

Then I realized that I had to talk with my kids about what to do in this horrific situation.  I didn’t want to have that talk!  I don’t want to have to even consider that this horror-movie type of scene really happened at a family favorite place….a local neighborhood movie theatre…and that it could happen again.  But I made the choice to coach my kids on what to do.

We talked about having cell phones charged and always with them.  We discussed playing dead and when to run.  Even writing this now upsets me to the core.

I am curious how all of you amazing parents, who read this blog, are discussing this tragedy with your children.

When 9/11 happened, my oldest was 4 years old and my girl was still in utero, almost ready to be born.  So I put my boy in front of the Disney channel while the media covered the unfolding events.

I didn’t have to tell my daughter about this awful time in our history until she came home from school asking me about the dedication her class had to the 9/11 anniversary that day.  Then I told her everything and I watched the innocence she had known as a small child disappear to be replaced with a shocked and saddened expression.  Welcome to the real world, I thought.

And now several years later, I am shocked to see that my kids aren’t shocked by the news in Colorado.  Of course, they are mortified and heartbroken, but we had Tucson last year and that is fresh in our hearts and memories here in Arizona.

We should be completely shocked by the terrifying events of Thursday night in Colorado!  But we are not because this is yet another mass shooting that has occurred in their short lifetimes and that….is shocking to me.  So so sad.

So I ask you, as parents, to share how you deal with discussions of the violence and devastation that is, sadly a part of our world today.  There is so much good to be celebrated, but we also have to prepare our children for the evil that lurks in our world.  Did you do what I did?  Did you coach your kids on what to do in a similar situation?  I never imagined when I carried my babies that this type of discussion would go along with the stranger danger, crossing the street, choking and drowning conversations that I would have with them.

So share your advice in the comments section on how you help your kids to process tragedies like this one and how to prepare themselves to be as safe as possible in the world we live in today.

I send deep and heartfelt prayers to the people of Colorado.  And I, like you, squeeze my children a little tighter with every bear hug that I get and give.  I am once again reminded, as I was with our Tucson tragedy, that life is a gift and that every day we should remember to tell our families just how much we love them.