It’s an all too familiar site. Terrified looks on the faces of kids as they try to process what they have just seen. SWAT members trying to bring order to chaos. Worried parents crying as they are reunited with, or learn the fate of their child. It is yet another senseless school shooting.
When you hear what happened at Robb Elementary school in TX or see the videos, you cannot help but feel something.You might feel sadness for the families, anger toward the shooter, or gratitude because it was not your child.
Radio is a very fluid medium. That is what I love most about it. We had planned to talk about the shooting but our direction completely changed when Jane called. Jane is a teacher who, in addition to her lunchbox, also keeps a bullet proof vest in her desk. It is a sad commentary on our world today but, the reason she has it also gives me hope and reminds me there are far more good people in the world than bad ones.
Just because your kids were not at Robb Elementary that doesn’t mean they aren’t affected by this.
Here are 3 tips from experts and one thought from me on how to help your kids deal with this tragedy.
Expert advice 1: Initiate the conversation don’t avoid it. Don’t assume your kids will not hear about this. They seem to know everything these days. The reality is your kids hear about events like this and sometimes will get misinformation or interpret the information incorrectly.
So don’t just assume everything is OK. Part of good parenting is having tough conversations.
Expert advice 2: How to respond if your child says they don’t feel safe going back to school.
While it is important to reassure them, you also need to validate their feelings and don’t just say “Everything will be fine. You are safe.” That shuts down the conversation.
Ask questions: “Tell me what you are worried about.” “What doesn’t make you feel safe?” This can give you a road map of how best to help your child process what they are feeling.
Expert advice 3: Check back in. Don’t just assume everything is good and mark this off your to do list after one conversation. Sometimes these things take time and the full weight of it can hit later or something will trigger the fear that is hiding just under the surface.
Wally (non expert) advice 1: Here is one the experts aren’t offering but is probably the most proactive and beneficial for your child. Pray WITH your children! Pray for these families. Ask your children what they think is important to pray for in this time. This does two things. One, it gets them talking and it might give you insight into their fears as well. Two, it teaches your children to go to God in times of trouble and to pray for others even if it hasn’t affected them directly. Ultimately caring for and praying for others will help strengthen your child’s relationship with God.
We live in an imperfect, broken world but maybe raising kids who turn to God and not guns for answers will help us write a better future rather than continuing to rehash the past.