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How to Talk to Kids About Mass Shootings and Other Tragedies

Posted in: Blog by amy on November 6, 2017

This article is not the one that people are excited to open. It’s not a list of 10 fun activities to do with kids or of the top five bakeries in town. But, unfortunately, it is something that we all must read and discuss right now. We must talk about what is going on in our nation. We must feel shock and anger and let any necessary tears flow. Some of us will work towards change. Some of us will pray. And, some of us will look into our young children’s eyes and try to explain the unexplainable.

Yesterday, once again, 26 lives were taken while people prayed in church in Texas. Maybe they were praying for the victims of the tragic, senseless murders last week in New York on a bike path. Maybe they were thinking of the dozens of lives taken during a concert in Las Vegas. Maybe they were just hoping for more goodness and more love in this world.

It is hard to put these words down and to accept that they are our new reality. We can be in church, at the office, at a school, on a bike path, at a concert or at a movie theater. We can be any place at all, and in a moment we could be murdered or injured by an armed madman.

We are all so vulnerable. This cannot be denied. We need to be observant and aware, and most importantly, we just need luck. We need to not be in the wrong place at the wrong time. We also need to comfort our children (and ourselves). How do we explain this concept to them – the idea that they are vulnerable, that they require luck and that life can oftentimes be alarmingly cruel?

Start by simply talking to them. Have a conversation. Listen to their questions. Encourage them to express their emotions. Tell them that you have a lot of similar questions and fears and that they are not alone. And, then, do what I think is the most important step of all: Explain to them that because tomorrow may be unknown, we must all make the most of TODAY. That is all we can do. That, indeed, is one thing that we can control: We must embrace each moment.


Show your children, through example, how you appreciate the red leaves that currently dot our Chicago streets. Let them see the joy in your eyes when they walk in the door after school. Hug them extra tight before saying goodnight. Don’t be dramatic about it all. Just be real and present and appreciative of all of the moments. Today is a Monday – it’s a day that a lot of people don’t necessarily look forward to as they head off to school or to work. But, today is a day that we are here. Amidst the craziness and the sadness and the chaos, there is goodness to be found. There is so much beauty in this day, Monday, November 6th, 2017. Today, we can laugh, dance, play, study, learn, evolve and hug.

This past weekend in Chicago, it pretty much rained off and on continuously. But, as I drove home yesterday afternoon, I was aware of the vibrant colors of the fall leaves. Even surrounded by a 40-degree temperature, a grey sky and fog in the air, the leaves were spotlighted for me. They were breathtaking beautiful … amidst all of the ugliness. Remind your kids that beauty can be found in the ugliness. Goodness can be found amidst evil. There are so many heroic people saving lives, helping people and trying to make the world a better place. Focus on that. Don’t live with fear as it will cause you to miss the passing moments. That is what you need to express to your children through your actions and through your words. Find the good, celebrate it and hold on tight.


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