What to say to kids after the Sandy Hook school massacre in Newton

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I don’t have answers. I don’t have wisdom.  I can only open my mind and my heart.  Many parents and other adults wonder how to respond to this tragedy. They want to know how to talk to their kids.  Here a list of sites offerring advice.  Personally, I still can’t comprehend the reality of having to discuss mass murders – especially of young people – with our children (and each other.)  When I once again talked to my kids about the unusual and rare event of a crazed gunman shooting everyone up, my daughter said, “Mommy, it isn’t rare.” She’s right. It really isn’t rare anymore.

So where does that leave us?  Love kids. Hold them. Be real. Show your vulnerability. Most importantly don’t make it their job to fix this. Don’t ask them to get used to this and adjust to it.  Most kids, especially teenagers, want to know that the adults in their life will take care of this problem and do everything they can to make it go away, or at least make it better.  They want to be free to continue their childhoods. They want to study, play and confront evil one small step at a time.  While some may want to process, most, I think, just want the grown-ups to handle it. They want neither the responsibility nor the legacy of this violence.

I’m ready to start, to be part of a dialogue that leads to change. Try the million child march. Or the Brady Center.   We need a three-faced approach: better mental health, less cultural acceptance of extreme violence as entertainment, and less access to semiautomatic weapons. Yes we can – even if it seems impossible.

We can’t stop murder, evil, or reckless violence toward our children or anyone else’s children, nor toward each other. We can make it harder. We can set limits.  We can be in charge.  We can be the adults in the culture who will do everything possible to make the authority of goodness stronger than the forces of destruction.

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