Tuesday, February 7, 2012

How Do You Know When It's Time?

Today my oldest, along with the entire 3rd, 4th and 5th grade from her school, are going to the high school performing arts center to participate in an assembly called Rachel's Challenge.  It is a presentation put on by the high school students, honoring Rachel Scott, the 17 year old girl who was killed by fellow students at Columbine High school nearly 13 years ago.

My understanding is the entire program is based on this quote, found in Rachel's journal after her death:
"I have this theory that if one person can go out of their way to show compassion then it will start a chain reaction of the same."

As a parent, my heart wrenches with the memory of that day. I remember it with perfect clarity. I was only 3 years out of high school myself and I watched the horror unfold in complete shock.  I think it's a wonderful thing that's being done in Rachel's honor. High school students are trained, and then have the opportunity to spread the message of kindness and gentleness to younger students. I believe that's a good thing.

So here's my dilemma. I realized as I was sending Princess #1 off to school, that we have not talked at all about what happened on that fateful day in Colorado. She has no idea not only that such a nightmare took place, but that it's possible for a nightmare like that to even come true.  I do not know how much background will be given to the students today, but I expect that the basic story will be shared.

Like any parent, I want to protect my children from the not so nice parts of this world. I want them to live in blissful naivety for awhile. Because I know once it's gone, it's gone for good. 

But how do you know when it's time?


Princess #1 and sweet friends on her birthday

How do you know when it's time to trust them with more? To burden them with more reality? To open up their safe havens just a little bit to the reality that's outside?

I feel a bit foolish because for Princess #1 and today, it's too late.  Rather than preparing her, my only option now is to wait and see what she learns and then talk about it later.  But that's not really how I want to approach things in the future.

So how do you know?  I do not want her to live in fear.  But I also do not want her to be unprepared.

My friends, these are such big decisions parents have to make.  We unfortunately live in a world with great heartache.  Do you have experience with guiding your children through these waters?  Or were your parents particularly good with guiding you?  I would love advice!



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7 comments:

  1. Britt @ The Magnolia PairFebruary 7, 2012 at 9:36 AM

    I have never heard of her journal from Columbine. How remarkable that they share with with kids (even though they may be so young). And hopefully, you just know because it seems like a very hard thing to grasp!
    By the way, i am doing a giveaway on my blog & love for you to check it out!

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  2. That's a hard thing to do! I wish you all the wisdom in the world as you discuss this after....then you can give it to me for when I need to talk to my daughter about these things:) xoxo

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  3. Oh, that day.  I was a senior at another colorado high school, less than an hour away.  My vice-principals neice and nephew attended columbine.  They were lucky to be safe.  One of my college friends was a senior there and spent hours hiding in a teachers office with 60 other kids, they didn't know what was going on and just stayed there.  So scary.  We can only protect our kids for so long, and it's so sad.
    Our schools don't have anything like that program, and we are right here. Unfortunately, kids need to know, even if we  want to shield them, we can't.

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  4. I believe you have to share what is relevant when the subject comes up and in such a way that is appropriate for the age of the child. As mothers, we know our child and their personalities so I would like to think that we would just know instinctively how to discuss it. 

    My perspective is a little different as we are a military family and my husband deploys often to dangerous places. My 5 year old asks about where daddy is going and why. I find myself explaining that there are people in this world that need help. That is what daddy is doing so that other families can be safer like we are here in the USA. Having to explain hard things is a way of life for us.

    As I think about the Columbine shootings and how I would approach it, I believe it would go something like this: Sometimes children make choices because they are hurting, feeling left out and angry about it. These choices lead to decisions that would hurt others just because this person is angry. When people act out in anger, others get hurt. This is why we must be kind to everyone and not react with anger. 

    When it comes to knowing when something is appropriate to talk about, I think we just have to be aware of what is going on with our children. Very open lines of communication are key to knowing what our children may be concerned about, wondering about and wanting more information on but not knowing how to ask us. It is such a delicate balance between letting them be care free children and helping them understand the world around them.

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  5. Just something to keep in mind with all of these type parenting situations - being the first to introduce, tell, or share information about the "real" world is always the best. You are in control of what she knows before she is getting information from a teacher or her peers. You are the only one in this world that knows what is best for the princesses!! (Do not ever forget that! There is not a school or group out there that actually puts your girls or my boys first.)
    We/parents are the only one looking out for our own children. We are the windows to their world and how they interpret events. Don't we all want their interpretation to be made with the moral values that we have?

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  6. I think that answer is going to be different for every parent, and you have to go with what you feel in your gut. I've been trying to handle "the real world" the same way parenting experts say that we should deal with the subject of sex... keep an open dialog, answer questions as they come up, and give them age appropriate information. I have talked to my oldest two about Osama Bin Laden when he died, about 9/11 because it is so close to Elise's birthday (9/15/01), about the war in Afghanistan (because their cousin fought there), and things like that. I give them my view on those events at a level that I think they can absorb. I have not discussed Columbine with them, but at some point, I probably should.

    As a side note, I LOVE your new banner pic of the girls at the beach!  wub!!!

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  7. Great advice Susan! Thank you!

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Let me know what you think!

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