It’s been several days now and my mind is still trying to process how someone could be so monstrous – so diseased – as to carry out the heinous act at Sandy Hook Elementary on Friday.
I, like many parents, find it difficult not to worry about our own children, not to imagine that horrible “what if.” We love these little people more than we ever thought possible. Parents know from the start that it’s our responsibility to protect our kids as they grow into not-so-little people, and the idea that sometimes we just simply can’t is heartbreaking. We pray for our kids to outlive us by decades, as they should.
I’ve seen many posts on how to talk to children about the tragedy. Some have let their kids watch the news, some have provided a pared-down account of what happened. We’ve decided not to tell our kids what occurred. They’re 3 & 5, and their biggest fear is Swiper the Fox from Dora the Explorer somehow figuring out how to sneak his way into our house. I want them to hang on to that sense of innocence as long as possible. I want their biggest worry to be an imaginary creature from a cartoon, or if their brother is sharing enough of the Legos.
But I do think this – kids need to know there are bad people out there. For their protection, so that they know to watch out for them. But also for their empowerment, so that they know it’s up to us – and them – to be good in the world. We can’t take away the horrible, the tragic, the ugly, the hatred. But we can be – and can teach our kids to be – the good, the uplifting, the beautiful. The love.
In August of every year the great kindness challenge takes place. I’d suggest we take that beyond one day and help our kids do something purposefully kind every single day, whether big or small. We can teach them the importance of doing good for others, and the value of being lights in a world with darkness.
From the Great Kindness Challenge site, here are some ideas for ways you and your kids can spread kindness: