To share or not to share the Colorado shooting with my children
By vjubis on July 20, 2012
Once again I'm shocked at the news today. The shooting in Aurora, CO has siphoned another spine chilling memory for me. Gun violence is a touchy subject in my world.
No child should ever have to endure the paralyzing fear of their life being threatened with a firearm. Still, it happens too often. No child should ever have to question such horrid stories like the Columbine shooting or the Virginia Tech Massacre. I don't agree that these are topics are ones that children need to be privy to.
But what about those of us that have endured gun violence first-hand? At the age of five my life was threatened by a very sick and broken person who pointed a gun to my left temple. This memory was seared in my psyche for life. The fear is still palpable to me today.
On days like today I'm faced with the choice of whether I should share these horrific stories with my children ages 8, 6 and 4. Am I wrong for sharing the facts with them if I feel I need to?
I want my children to live a happy and almost carefree life. I don't want them burdened with the violence in today's world. I want them to understand that not every situation is perfect but that there are also so many things to be grateful for and to feel fulfilled about. I want them to be well-rounded people.
I'm trying to raise my three daughters to be aware of the world at large by cultivating compassion within them. I'm far from exceptional but am doing my best. So when I read today's headline, I had to choose how to go about sharing it with my children because well, this is the world we live in.
I decided to share it with my eldest in private. She's almost 9. I've been incredibly candid with her about most things so I felt in my gut that she'd be okay with learning about the Aurora Theater shooting. Her empathy swelled in a matter of seconds for the people that were hurt and killed in the shooting. I decided to keep it from my 6 and 4 year old because my gut told me so.
I went on to explain to her that people that do these things are broken themselves. She understood perfectly. I also expressed to her to never forget that all beings, good and bad deserve compassion. I often tell her that people are born innocent and pure but that the world and other humans are what make them broken. We all have something good inside of us.
I respect all parents who choose not to share these awful stories with their children. Perhaps if my situation and experience were different, I'd choose the same thing. It's a heavy subject for me, still.
I find these moments in parenting challenging because the decisions we make on behalf of our children ultimately stay with them for the remainder of their lives. I've had to live with the traumatic memory of the day my life was 'almost taken' (all melodrama aside) and have had to dance around subjects such as the one like today's with respect to how I share them with my daughter(s) with the utmost care and sensitivity.
This is why gun violence is a touchy topic for me. No, it is not easy. No, it is not pleasant. No, I don't know if I'm choosing the correct answer but I'm doing my best and listening to my gut most of the time. Life is precious and so are our children.
by Rita Arens
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