Know Your Child

Tralee Pearce’s article deals with the question of how much, if any, media coverage about natural events we should share with our children. As a parent, naturally, I want to protect my children from anything that might do them harm or cause them pain. As a parent, again, I also want them to understand their world and have empathy for the people in it. When it comes to media portrayals of natural disasters, I am pretty sure that the “know your child” rule applies: I can’t, nor do I want to totally shield my children from knowledge of the events of this world, both good and bad; I just want them to learn in a way that is respectful of who they are and how much I think they can handle.  Letting my children watch the nightly news seems much like teaching them to swim by throwing them in the deep-end. I’d rather they ease into the water, myself.

But that’s not necessarily what they want. They are not isolated from the facts of what occurred in Japan. My children continue to ask questions about the earthquake and tsunami. Of course, they wanted to know whether what happened in Japan could happen here. They needed to know that they are safe.  They wanted to know what happened to the children in Japan. They even wanted to know the physics of  how tsunamis work.  At school, they collected loonies and folded paper cranes.  They pledged money from their piggy banks to be donated to the Red Cross.

They also wanted to watch the news.  You Tube videos of the tsunami rushing in,  in particular, fascinated them. Neither of them could have articulated this, but I understood: they wanted to make the abstract, concrete.  Having no frame of reference, seeing what really happened in Japan helped make it real to them. Out of an abundance of caution, we might have chosen not let them watch the news clips, and perhaps, in a different circumstance, we may demur.  This time, however, I think it was okay to let them.


2 thoughts on “Know Your Child

  1. You are wise (biased, of course!). It’s better they know the “truth” as much as possible, then hear the rumours and imagine.

    Then there are the gory fairy tales and nursery rhymes…

  2. For me your perspective is dead on to what I believe……I will say that I appreciate the fact that most school’s have the kids do something that is positive and giving in the face of such unpleasentness and if they get nothing more from the experiance than doing something kind for someone in need I can live with that…..

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