The news this week of Osama bin Laden’s death evokes countless emotions. As I look back on the tragic day of September 11, 2001, I shudder with the memories of fear for our country and the immensity of how Rainbows For All Children could help the families who had loved ones die. There’s also the generation that grew up only knowing a post 9/11 life, and as CNN said, they “learned as children that the world is a scary place where strangers with hatred in their hearts steer planes into buildings, grown-ups cry for days and everything can change in an instant. They grew up with color-coded terror alerts and long lines at airport metal detectors.”
Plus, we have today’s youth – those who are old enough to know what 9/11 is but too young to remember the day the tragedy hit. They didn’t see the planes crash into the World Trade Center, Pentagon or the field in Pennsylvania. As children and teens wrestle with the news of Osama bin Laden’s death, I encourage parents to talk with them. Following are my five tips to do so:
1. If your child is old enough to watch the news, then sit and watch it with them.
2. After the news, shut the newscast off and ask your child what they heard. Ask them about what they understand and start the discussion. Keep in mind that depending on their age, their comprehension can be far different than ours.
3. Ask them how they feel about Osama’s leadership and death.
4. Acknowledge their feelings and responses.
5. Ask if they have concerns or questions about America’s safety or their own.
These moments of heartfelt and meaningful dialogue can be wonderful foundations for long term, candid conversations between you and your child.
Suzy Yehl Marta 2011