A couple of years ago, news broke of a tragic shooting in Colorado. Saddened and distraught, I started looking for resources aimed at parents, like myself, who were searching for ways to help their kids process the news of this unthinkable event. So I searched. And I found a few good resources and put them together in a short post.
Then the next tragedy struck. So, again, I searched and I added a few more resources to the list. Then the next… and the next. In fact, every time news of a shooting in our country has occurred, more and more resources have become available and the list in this post has become longer and longer.
While it is wonderful that there are so many great articles, books, and videos available to parents, the length of this list pains me. Each time I revisit this post I find myself confronted by the ugly thought that perhaps one day I will apathetically skim past these breaking news stories and choose to no longer add to this list out of a sense of complete hopelessness. What other tragedies, I wonder, do I already neglect to make lists for, neglect to help my children process, forgetting that they may see my indifference as acceptance? Most of all, I wonder if the world will allow my children’s hearts will be soft enough to feel the sting of senseless violence or if they will grow to no longer take pause if they continue to be surrounded by stories of children being murdered in their own backyards.
And so, I offer this list to you again, but this time with the recognition that our job is not to help our children become immune to the sadness of tragedy. Instead, let us help them feel secure with them knowledge that they are loved and cherished; let us model for them a reverence for life, and open their eyes wide to injustice, and also remind them to look for the heroes who bring us hope.
Tragedy calls us to show our children that we can and do work together for goodness and peace in our world and that there is so much power in even the smallest acts of kindness and love.
“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of ‘disaster,’ I remember my mother’s words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.” — Mister Rogers
- Teaching Tolerance “When Bad Things Happen“
- Michelle Richards (UU Parenting Blog): “Talking with children about horrific news”
- From Parent Further (Parentfurther.com): “Dealing with Tragedies in the World”
- A video message on talking with kids about the Aurora tragedy from Reading Rainbow‘s LeVar Burton
- From University of Minnesota, “Talking To Your Children About Violence Against Kids”
- Statement from President Obama
- Trauma Response Resources for Families and Congregations from the UUA (Books titles, articles, etc.)
- Dealing With Grief: Five Things NOT to Say and Five Things to Say In a Trauma Involving Children By Rev. Emily C. Heath
Send me your suggestions for books, videos, resources, and other tips that you would like to share on this topic by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or add a comment below.