See, I have an 8 year old daughter and as much as I want to shield and protect her from all the evils in this world, there are certain things that I refuse to keep from her. 9.11, Newtown, and now Boston are all subjects that I let her watch reports about in addition to watching the reports of course her dad and I sit with her and have a conversation. I ask her if she has any questions or concerns about what she has seen or heard. I make sure that she knows that even though there are people who wish harm on strangers there are even more still who would rush to help those same strangers, and that those are the people who are heroes.
I have always believed that for the most part, keeping the tragedies that happen in life from our children does more harm than good. You lose out on teaching valuable lessons on humanity and the goodness of people, not to mention teaching them to be the kind of person who rushes to action in a tragic situation as opposed to standing around feeling helpless.
This extends to personal tragedies as well. When we brought my Mother In Law to live with us when she had been given only months to live after being diagnosed with a brain tumor, my daughter was 4 years old and she was included and involved in EVERY single step of the process from setting up Gramma Marilyn's new room to the daily meetings with her Hospice nurses. Hannah was allowed to ask questions, talk about anything and everything she saw and felt about the whole situation. I truly believe that because we included her in everything, it was less scary for her when Gramma Marilyn progressively got worse. She was able to spend time with and help to care for her Gramma. She was also there (in another room with the hospice nurse) the moment Gramma took her very last breath. Hannah was there when we went to the funeral home to make all of the arrangements for Gramma Marilyn and helped us pick out the lovely wooden urn that Gramma Marilyn would be placed in. During that same time period we were also caregivers to my Grandmother who was battling Alzheimer's and bi-polar disorder.
Pretty heavy subject matter for an adult let alone a child, I know. But again, Hannah was included in every aspect of taking care of Grandma, which helped her to feel more in control of the situation. Also I believe that those experiences have shaped her into the immensely caring, loving, understanding, accepting, empathetic individual that she is today. Believe me when I tell you though I have 'mommy guilt' every single day about how much she has experienced in her young life, but ultimately if given a 'do-over' I wouldn't change it. I truly believe that she can handle the truth about life and death and tragedy. I believe that I have taught her to not judge people based on how they look or who they love, that if you have the ability to help someone in need it is your job to do so.
I'm sure that to some people I'm a horrible mother for not keeping these types of things from my daughter and that's okay. Everyone is entitled to their opinions. However, I know that I made the right decisions for MY family and at the end of the day, that's the only thing that matters.
I pray for peace for the victims of these horrific tragedies. I pray that law enforcement will be able to determine quickly who was behind these attacks and to bring those people to justice. Now, let's all go hug our friends and family extra tight and maybe say a few more 'I love you's' to the people who matter in our lives.