Why My Daughter Doesn’t Know About Sandy Hook

Why I Didn't Tell My Kids About Sandy Hook

I’m a news junkie. I like to watch the 6 o’clock news and the world news after. 

Grace has been exposed to the news for most of her life. I filter a bit, especially things that I think would scare her, but mostly, she sees the realities of the world.

I don’t think she really pays attention most of the time. Once in a while, she’ll say something that makes me wonder if I shouldn’t turn off the tv news and get my fix online instead.

It’s happened with more and more frequency in the last year.

When I saw the Connecticut shooting sickeningly unfolding on Twitter, I turned the tv off.

We haven’t seen a news program since Friday.

Somehow, I don’t mind Grace hearing about local murders on the news, but I don’t want her to hear about some far away.

I don’t want her to believe that someone could walk into a school and murder kids just like her.

I didn’t want her to start to think about someone walking into her Sunday School class or her ice skating lessons or the public library and killing her.

I do enough of that for the both of us.

I don’t want her to think about this trauma every time she sees a school.

I know I will.

Grace asked why I turned the tv off that day, and I told her simply that something very bad had happened, that I didn’t want her to have to think about it. She questioned a bit, but she has never asked what the bad thing was.

Over the weekend, when I was reading CNN and ABC News online, Grace asked if I was still reading about that bad thing. I said I was, and she asked why.

I couldn’t answer her then; I didn’t know. I just had to keep reading.

I know now.

I was searching for reason in the unreasonable, for explanation in the inexplicable. I wanted to know how God could let this happen. I wanted to know what good could possibly come from it.

Like every parent who’s familiar with this situation, my heart is heavy. My spirit aches for those mommas and daddies and grandmas and grandpas whose babies’ last minutes on earth were abused by terror, panic, and suffering.

I cry for babies who wanted their mothers and for mothers who waited and waited for babies who would never come home.

I think about all the intruder drills I sat through as a teacher, imagining how I’d stuff all of my kids into my supply closet if the drill were ever real.

I grieve for the teachers who did everything they could do to protect their kids (and it still wasn’t enough) and for the kids who heard their teacher lie to save them and then listened to her die and for the one first-grader who survived while her teacher and her fifteen classmates died, huddled right there alongside her.

 

It’s almost more than I can handle.

Grace believes in Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, and Cookie the Magic Elf. She believes that the world makes sense, that mothers and fathers take care of whatever their children need, that people are good, and that guns are for hunting food.

She believes that God protects us.

I’m not ready to explain that God’s plan sometimes involves us going to heaven before we’re ready.

 

I don’t think she’s ready to understand that our world is broken and badly damaged, that God doesn’t always protect us, that sometimes mothers and fathers are impotent.

Is anyone ever ready to learn those lessons?

Did you tell your kids about Sandy Hook? What did you tell them?

 

© 2012, Tara Ziegmont. All rights reserved.

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Comments

  1. Beverly @ The Buzz says

    My 6-yr-old grandson lives with us. He was born the same year most of those sweet children. I can’t help but think of them every time I look into his eyes, and then I thank God that he’s safe. I didn’t tell him anything and won’t unless he asks. As far as I know, my daughter didn’t tell her 7-yr-old daughter either. Your post was spot on. Thank you for sharing it.

  2. says

    Tara,
    I cried reading your post your words hit home more then any of the news broadcast that I did watch before the girls got home from school that day because the news is full of facts but you described the reality of it and the reality for the families. I didn’t tell Emma anything because she is only 6 but I did explain to her that no matter what she should always obey her teachers and listen to them. Livy is 9 and I did tell her something bad had a occurred and that a man was not so nice to some people, I didn’t explain that it was children just that a bad man did a bad thing and I also stressed the importance of listening to her teachers or any of the other faculty at the school. The news has been off limits in this house since they got off the bus that day, if we as adults sit here and ask why imagine how frightening and confusing it would be for our children. Thanks for writing this post I have been pretty conflicted about not telling them so it is nice to know that I am not the only one that feels that she needs to shelter her children from the evils of the world.
    Amy Yingling
    The Crafty Book Nerd

    • says

      That’s exactly it. If we can’t understand as adults, how can we expect our little children to understand? I think that’s part of why I’m having a hard time with it. The victims were so little. The survivors are so little.

      Most of the comments on this post and on Facebook have supported you, as well.

  3. says

    My oldest is only 3 so I didn’t tell him. He doesn’t understand death yet, even though we’ve been to 2 funerals and a viewing this year. I am sickened by this so much that it is even hard for me to read about, but yet I find myself doing just that.Even if my child were 6-7 I don’t think I’d be able to tell them – mainly because I had such an active imagination when I was younger that I couldn’t do that to them! Let them think the world is safe for just a little while longer. Children deserve to be happy and not to be scared wherever they go. It breaks my heart that we can’t live in a society where they can be safe everywhere.

  4. says

    I didn’t tell my son. He’s 4 1/2 and I’m hoping that no one else tells him either, I agree completely with you. The only information I’ve heard has been online after the kids go to bed. My husband thinks it’s strange that I have been reading about it online. He just avoids it all together. I’ve was thinking about what kept me reading about it and I thought the exact same thing, I want to know why, I want it to make sense. Sadly, I don’t think it ever will make sense. Also, this is the first school shooting that I have been aware of since being a mom of a kid who goes to school (preschool). That fact changes everything. It’s so different how I’ve responded to this tragedy and how other school shootings have affected me. It is so sad as a parent to watch this. I’ve prayed more faithfully for my kids’ safety these last few days.
    Great article, by the way. It gave me goosebumps. It was so relatable.

    • says

      Joe thinks it’s strange, too. I’ve talked to him about it a little bit, but he’s happy just having a summary-level understanding of the whole thing. I don’t know why, but I have this intense desire to understand the whole thing. As you say, it’s probably futile; we may never understand.

      Thanks for your kind words.

  5. Michelle says

    We didn’t tell our kids either. My husband I texted and I only read about it online. Our hearts broke for the families involved and hugged our kids even tighter. We saw no need to share the news with them but we don’t tell them about any news stories.

      • Michelle says

        We didn’t tell our 3rd grader either. I went to his school that afternoon to clean his classroom and talked to the secretary alone about it. (My thoughts were, are they ready if something happened there) As I went into the classrooms no one mentioned it at all even though you know it was on all the teachers minds. Luckily no one has told him or even talked about it in front of him. We are ready to tell him if necessary but I think most people want to protect these precious children.

  6. says

    We are here, in the throes, living in the town next door, driving to appointments IN Sandy Hook. I still didn’t tell my kids. Nor have their teachers, administrators, or bus drivers. I think other parents must be taking the same approach, because their friends haven’t dumped the news on them either. We are grateful. We feel no need to shatter their innocence at such young ages.

  7. says

    My teen daughters found out via a combination of friends, their phones, and social media. Neither asked me about it. I spoke to both of them as soon as they arrived home. Asked them if they were OK. Told them they could talk to me if they wanted to. I’ve listened the news on the radio in the car. I didn’t change the channel. They know I am upset. I haven’t filtered my feelings.

    Now with my son it is a different story. I only told him (he’s 9) because we were going to a Cub Scout holiday party. I was worried he would hear adults talking. He was solemn when I told him. he asked one or two questions. Hasn’t asked me anything sense. One point I made to him was he must not talk about what happened with friends. If friends talked to him about it, we told him to answer them but not get in to detail. We told him that it wasn’t funny nor did we want him saying anything about guns. I needn’t have worried as he has not joked or anything.

    I am fortunate that his elem school has not discussed what happened with Sandy Hook. They have had more drills, there are parents and teachers manning the doors, and police cars patrolling the parking lot at bus time.

    • says

      Thanks for commenting. It’s interesting what different schools and different teachers have done. A local parent told me that her child’s teacher explained the whole situation. I think she’s in third grade, so about the same age as your youngest. I am so glad to be a homeschooler right now, simply because I can control the information Grace gets.

  8. Melisa says

    We did not tell our girls either. I have been completely heartbroken over this and I cannot imagine how it would make them feel. I want them to be innocent as long as they can be. Thank you so much for this post. Prayers going to all involved in this horrible tragedy.

  9. Mama Goose says

    We actually had to drive up to CT. this weekend, and yet I still managed to not speak of this in front of the children. I remember something very poignant my daughter’s daycare teacher said to me many years ago. “As parents we serve as a buffer of the world to our children.” I have seen the wisdom of this time and again. Childhood is a time of slowly unfolding consciousness, and childhood itself is under threat, but as parents we must be vigilant to protect it in every possible way.

  10. Michelle says

    My heart is breaking for the babies who wanted their mommies and daddies when the trouble unfolded. I’ve followed the news online searching for an answer as well. Was he getting back at the teacher for something? An ill crossed lover? Why? We want to fix it, Make sure it doesn’t happen to us. In reality though, we can’t. Unless we are going to live in a bubble in our homes we will be at risk. Movie theaters, shopping malls , schools are all now possible danger zones. I want to protect my children as much as possible but sending them to get an education now is risky.

    I want to know why all the husbands seem to be ok with the latest news. Of course they think it is awful but it doesn’t seem to upset them very much. I’ve been searching online do much because I can’t watch the news (they would hear) and my husband and I can’t talk unless we are alone.
    It doesn’t help that I have a Kindergardener and 3rd grader at school – I have seas of faces of precious children in my mind who could become targets. I don’t think we are alone in this. There have been prayer vigils and services all around our area in memory of the Sandy Hook victims. We all want to do something to ease the pain.

    You were wondering what schools were doing in response to the tragedy… We got an email from the Headmaster of our school letting us know they have met as an administration and gone over their safety procedures. They let in know that the staff had training this summer on what to do in an emergency like this. They reminded us of the rules of signing in at the office and warring parent badges. I was in my son’s class today and the teacher kept her door locked at all times. (They normally just shut the doors) she said that it was something she could do as a safety measure.

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