Parenting When Tragedy Strikes

My relationship with my children is very important to me. The SITS ladies asked a tough parenting question as to how to parent when tragedy strikes. Do you talk to them about it or
let them be kids?

Personally, I think it all depends on what the issue is. Is it about an ill or deceased loved one or a world event? In either event I believe we should be honest. Age-appropriate is definitely important. I generally state the facts as succinctly and truthfully as possible and then ask if there are questions. For example, last week my grandmother (79 years old) “drowned”. She was revived but was in Intensive Care. I visited her and explained to my 3 and 5 year olds that she “stopped breathing while she was swimming and is now in the hospital so the doctors can help her get better”. This seemed to be enough truthful information without scaring them.

As for world events, our world is preschool television and often I don’t even see the news for a few days. I limit television time and I’m not sure they are at an age where discussing such things would be beneficial. As we start to explore the world through books and they start to hear things at school or become interested in the news I will most definitely find out the facts (if I don’t already know them) and answer their questions again, as succinctly and truthfully as their curiosity demands. I hope that such honesty will build a trusting relationship with the children and myself and hopefully this will let them feel they can ask or talk to me about anything and know I will treat them with respect in the way I answer or help them through things.

What is your parenting stance on discussing tragedies with your children?