I've been a parenting editor for over five years.
I've often assigned stories on how to talk to kids about tragedies.
After the mass shooting in Maine, I struggled with what to tell my kids.
I've worked in media for 15 years now and as a parenting editor for five. That's the same age as my oldest child.
As an editor, I've assigned the same story over and over again every time there's bad news. Whether it's a mass shooting, a war, or an act of violence, I've asked reporters to write "How to talk to your kids about…" whatever was happening.
I chose to say nothing
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends avoiding talking about mass shootings with kids under the age of 8. However, by that point, many kids are in school and might hear about news from friends or even a teacher.
The American Psychology Association suggests parents start the conversation about shootings with their kids and listen without interrupting. They also recommend reinforcing the message that kids are safe and correct any misinformation. These tips are for kids "no matter their ages," according to the APA.
This all makes sense. And yet, when a mass shooting took place on October 25th in Lewiston, Maine, near where my family lives, my first reaction was not to tell them anything.
My kids are still young
Schools have been closed since the mass shooting took place two days ago because the suspected shooter is still at large.
My kids are young enough that a canceled school day doesn't make them question what's happening. They are all under age 5, and were excited to have more days at home with my husband and me.
We've made an effort not to mention what has happened around them. Because of my job, I've been following the news closely and speak in code with my husband if the kids are nearby and I need to give him an update.
We'll need to reevaluate once schools open
I know I can't keep my kids in a bubble forever. I myself saw extreme acts of violence at the same age my son is. I'm not fooling myself. But at the same time, I want to keep their innocence intact for a little longer.
They know about death already. Two of their grandparents have died, as well as one of our dogs. We've talked about our feelings around death and not seeing loved ones again, but never in the context of gun violence.
Once schools reopens, we will obviously need to reevaluate our stance. Kids will be talking about the mass shooting at school, and we want to reinforce the message that they are safe and we'll do everything in our power to keep it that way.
Even though I've assigned stories on talking to kids about tragedies, I find it hard to follow the advice I've given other parents. But as with all things parenting, I'm learning as I go.
Read the original article on Insider