Wednesday, September 11, 2013

How we tackled the 9/11/01 conversation

Today was hard for a lot of people.....lots of thoughts, lots of memories, lots of feelings.  As parents we deal with an additional set of thoughts and feelings......"How and when is best to tell my child what happened on September 11, 2001?"

Let me preface this with, there is no correct answer.  Every family has to judge their individual situation and decide when is the best time.

I decided today was that time.  It was a snap judgement.  I didn't even have time to consult my husband on the matter.  Thankfully, he's use to this and he trust me.

At breakfast Noah was talking about a documentary he and Bryce watched.  The long and short of the conversation was that Noah came away with there being a lot of really bad people in Baghdad and that he wanted to become a mercenary to save people.

My first thought was, "What documentary was this?"  *No, I am not some slacker parent who doesn't monitor their child's TV choices.  I was at book club that night*

So I started asking questions about if he knew where Baghdad was, if he knew what a mercenary was, etc.  I quickly explained where Baghdad was and that while mercenaries may get rid of "bad people" they are hired killers, they are not good people themselves.

I knew at that very instant that it was time.  I brought all the kids in the living room, loaded up YouTube and through tears gave them an age appropriate run down of what happened on 9/11.  I then let them watch clips of the buildings being hit and falling.  We talked about the lives that were lost that day and the heroes that came out of the ashes.

They were solemn.  I am not entire sure if it was my crying or the videos or both but something clicked.

We continued talking about how lives were changed that day and how the country changed.  I explained why terrorist do what they do and why, in their own way they think they are doing something good.

I didn't want our day to be shrouded in sadness and depression so we started talking about positive ways to help our global community.......educating people, feeding people, helping them have homes, caring for people, helping to keep people safe, etc. etc.  I explained while there will always be bad in the world, we can out weigh it with the good and that every bit of good matters, no matter how insignificant it may seem at the time.  How free things like kindness, respect and appreciation can make or break someone's day.  How it is important to try not to judge people as we are all fighting personal battles.  I also explained that no one is perfect and they will make mistakes but the point is to try their best.

We ended the conversation with me reading the following prayer to them:

Let the rain come and wash away

the ancient grudges, the bitter hatreds
held and nurtured over generations.
Let the rain wash away the memory
of the hurt, the neglect.
Then let the sun come out and
fill the sky with rainbows.
Let the warmth of the sun heal us
wherever we are broken.
Let it burn away the fog so that
we can see each other clearly.
So that we can see beyond labels,
beyond accents, gender or skin color.
Let the warmth and brightness
of the sun melt our selfishness.
So that we can share the joys and
feel the sorrows of our neighbors.
And let the light of the sun
be so strong that we will see all
people as our neighbors.
Let the earth, nourished by rain,
bring forth flowers
to surround us with beauty.
And let the mountains teach our hearts
to reach upward to heavens.

Rabbi Harold Kushner

It was a hard conversation but I felt good about it and I think the kids took away from it what I had intended.

We went on about our day like normal but there was definitely a calm in the air that doesn't typically exist until bedtime.

How did you tackle this conversation?  How old are your children?  I'd love to hear your story.  Leave it in the comments below and I will get back to you as soon as I can.

Have a good evening.

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