Finding the right words | Colleen Smidt

As parents we plan and work and think about the hard, occasionally uncomfortable conversations we need to have with our children. We agonize over the age appropriate timing of the conversation, the depth and complexity of subject matter and finding that balance of for and against arguments to use that make the most sense to a youthful, simpler mind that is still forming in its opinion and ability.

In the past month we have had some of those uncomfortable conversations in our home. If it’s an important issue that is exposed through the media we take the time to talk about it with our son. Recently it has been about same sex marriage and the social dynamics associated with it. Also discussed has been drug use, specifically marijuana, and the consequences of personal choices when it comes to certain substances legal or not. Just this week we added pedestrian and school zone crosswalk safety to our list of topics.

Prior to this week, the level of what I considered to be a “hard” conversation did not even come close to what I felt when talking with my child about the horrible and devastating mass murder of a classroom of children in Connecticut. Hard has a whole new meaning now when I apply it to these conversations.

Hard is knowing in advance that simply by talking about what has happened with your child you will destroy or remove a certain amount of their innocence. You fully understand it is the right and responsible thing to do as a parent and that your child will be better off down the road hearing it from you first which allows them an important opportunity to ask you questions and/or voice their fears.

It is hard to explain to children that bad things can happen to good people through no fault of their own. That often there are not going to be answers that bring any comfort from the investigation and coverage that follows these tragedies but instead only bring more questions. It is hard to make our children feel safe again once that safety has been compromised on such a massive level.

Our thoughts, tears, prayers and broken hearts are with the families and students of Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. Our thoughts are with the teachers, the community and the first responders dealing with the horrors that played out before them. How can we find any words to say, when words simply don’t seem to be enough right now.

Hug your children this week and talk with them.

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