See no evil, hear no evil

 I'm a proponent of talking about things with kids so they're prepared.

When reading one excellent post on talking to kids about the Russian child who was sent back to Russia alone I cringed a little when the poster discussed hiding the television news with the hope that the children would remain untouched by the story. I remember something similar when Michael Jackson died and my nieces, especially the older one, were mesmerized by the muted CNN coverage playing in the background on my sister-in-law's tv.

I can't remember the specific questions that were coming up but my approach to questions from kids are to answer them. So, in my attempt to do so, I was silenced by "the look" from their mom. It was explained to me in hushed tones over their heads that they were too young to understand, that it would be upsetting to them.

My question to mom was didn't she think it would be better if we discussed it with them before they talked about it at school with their friends? For whatever reason, mom did not think it was a good idea and so it was left, left to the imagination while the tv remained on muted in the background, CNN being quickly passed over when channel surfing for the rest of my visit.

For some it makes no sense to compare this situation to the Russian child who was returned by his adoptive mom but things like this are relevent to the people involved, what their experience is. These two girls' dad died when they were around 6 and 3 years of age and they were very present when their grandpa died a couple of short years later. They're no stranger to loss, they know death happens, and in our world of ever present media any kid over the age of  four or five can easily be exposed to the news story of the day.

I remember driving with them once and having the oldest ask me what would happen to them if their mom died, just out of the blue. I couldn't tell them their mom wasn't going to die, they know better, so I told them that if that happened I would get to them as soon as possible and make sure they were taken care of, that it wasn't something they needed to worry about. You could feel the relief from the backseat. I did go on to say that it wasn't likely their mom would die anytime soon, that she was healthy and would more than likely be bossing them around for many years to come.

I know it's sometimes frightening to tackle talking to kids about tough stuff, about things we may not even want to think about never mind talk about, but it's best if we try. Our words may not always be perfect, and maybe we'll need to take a few minutes to think about just exactly what we want to say before we do, but something is better than nothing, is better than being in denial about what our kids talk and think about.

Do I think our kids are forced to think and know about things too early in their impressionable lives? Oh yes, I do and it's sad, but, pretending it's not that way doesn't help anyone, especially our kids.

I wonder if this sad story of the Russian boy is affecting more than the kids who've been adopted, if kids all over are wondering if they can be sent away on a plane if their mom and dad don't want them anymore?


  1. Kids can handle soooo much more than we give them credit for, especially if the subject comes up in a place and context where they actually feel safe. That's what I don't get!

    Yes, I have heard of the turn-off-the-TV people in connection with Torry Hansen but my instinct would be to confront it head on. I enjoyed your take on this, especially owning up to the fact that this stuff may not be pleasant but it's better to hear it from a parent.

  2. I agree with talking to kids about "things" that come up - they will likely hear about it at school anyway. Better to discuss it at home first. Plus our kids today are exposed to so much with the internet, facebook, 24 hour news, etc. It's silly to pretend they are immune or oblivious. The thing that has upset my kids the most is a text my 10 year old got about a dead girl coming out of the toilet to chop you up if you don't send on the text to 10 people. We refused to allow him to send it on and I have had to stand in the bathroom while he showers ever since. Funny how this ridiculous chain-text is upsetting but the real stuff they seem to take in stride. Don't know what to make of it.

  3. Kris...holy crap! Dead girls in the toilet?!?!

    Makes me think of when I was a kid and we used to say a bloody mary thing in the mirror in the bathroom or something.

    I have not heard of this chain text, must ask my son. Funny, I get creeped out by chain emails (and the old style chain snail mails used to freak me out too) and just don't even read them, bam delete!.

    Your poor boy, and poor you having to guard the biffy! Wonder if he'd be ok with setting something heavy on the toilet lid.

  4. ha, ha! I never thought of that - maybe I should get a brick to put on the lid!!


Feel free to flag your comment PRIVATE. I realize commenting can be intimidating so if you have something to say to me you'd rather not have published you're welcome to do so, just make sure you let me know it's private. If you want a reply, leave your email address.

I'm also completely fine with good anonymous comments. I've seen some great ones!