Talking To Kids About Hard Things

Well hello there my loves. I was going to just skip over this post since it took me a while to process and get it together butI realized we all need to have this right here. A place to come back to. So here it is, so many hard things happening in our lives, in the country and in the world. And actually these hard things happen all the time not just during a pandemic so lets have some tricks up our sleeves.

I will preface this conversation with this:

EVERY SINGLE FAMILY IS DIFFERENT. You must consider all things best for your little humans. What is best for their personalities and ages etc. So use this post as I intended it, a place to learn from, lean on and support other mamas having to approach all of these difficult conversations.

Now that I have said this, as a mixed family we don't have the privilege to skip a lot of these conversations. We don't watch the news with the girls, it's just too much negative that we aren't able to preview/control but we do talk about the things going on around the world in age appropriate words/ways.

The first time I realized that we had to start talking more about things going on and things that had happened was in Zoe's first week of school when her Kindergarten teacher talked about September 11th and the twin towers. Goodness gracious I was not ready.

The school is a couple blocks from where the twin towers had come down and in remembrance of the day they talked all about it. About how the community came together, how it effected so many lives. She came home with so many questions about it all and this mama heart was not ready. My favorite phrase when these hard questions come up, has been, "that is a big big questions, with big feelings attached to it, I need you to give me some time to think about how to answer it, is that ok with you?". It validates the importance of their questions but gives me a second to gather my thoughts.

The following week they had the first of many soft lockdowns at the school, in which they prepared the school for an intruder. Can I tell you the feeling in my gut as we rode the elevator, where my (then) 4.5 year old talked about how scary it was to hide in a cubby and hold her hand over her mouth to be as quiet as possible? How she explained that her hands shook for the rest of the day waiting for it to be a "real one instead of pretend". No, I actually cannot explain that feeling because it's something I had never experienced before, a feeling that I cannot use words to explain. But I can tell you that that night I talked to my husband, and a few mom friends on how to approach talking to her about bad things happening and how we prepare for them.

We talked about how to approach past tragedies, and also how to reassure her that I work on keeping her safe and what she should know if I am not there to keep her safe. (And just in case you needed it this is your reminder that you do NOT have to do this alone! Just like any other type of parenting struggle you can pull in help, support and lean on professionals to talk about any of these hard things. We sometimes have this idea, that if we ask for help or support that we aren't good enough but that is far from the case!)

After reading The Danish Way of Parenting I am reassured that In order for our children to be strong, capable, and confident adult we have to treat them like that as children. And now fast forward to last Spring, George Floyd's death and how one child in her classroom told them all the details in which he was killed by a police officer and that black people should be scared of police. How the punch in the gut knocked the air out of me. How I again felt so unprepared and sad, just really sad that she was not scared for her dad.

And then again most recently with the attack on the Capitol, how she felt hearing that a place that represents the USA was attacked and most of all the fear that she explained was still there for her. She had the same question every time, "how can this happen, how if there are people keeping us all safe, do bad people get in, or take over planes, or hurt other people, how can that happen is we are being kept safe". I told her that as a grown up, I often have the same question. And that we would talk more about it.

All that to share that if you have felt speechless, overwhelmed, and mainly heartbroken with the truth behind these hard conversations you are not alone. Here are some links the moms in my network shared and I found helpful. I'll continue to add to this list as I come across more information.

How to Talk to Kids About Hard Subjects

Talking to Kids About Violence

Addressing Grief

Helping Kids Cope With Grief

Talking To Kids About Difficult World events

Don't Protect Kids From Their Emotions

Sesame Street, How to Talk To Kids About Hard Things

Talking To Kids About Tragedies And Other Events

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