We’re on Lockdown and My Daughters Have No Idea
In light of the news out of Boston, Parents.com asked mothers living within the lockdown region to share how they’re handling the situation with their children. Carla Naumburg, PhD, is a mother of two young daughters and a clinical social worker. She is a contributing editor for Kveller and she writes the Mindful Parenting blog on PsychCentral. Naumburg explains why she is shielding her children from the scary situation happening right outside their door.
I am currently sitting at my dining room table, listening to the news with an ear bud in one ear. The sun is shining, the birds are chirping, and my neighborhood is eerily quiet. My 2-year-old is taking a nap, and my 4-year-old is drawing quietly during her afternoon rest time. As far as they know, it’s just another day.
They have no idea that we’re on lockdown while a major manhunt takes place less than 5 miles from our home. They have no idea that thousands of police and SWAT teams are searching door to door, looking for a man implicated in the bombing of the Boston Marathon, the murder of an MIT police officer, and the shooting of a transit police officer. They don’t know that police with large guns searched their cousins’ house this morning. They know absolutely nothing about the bombing or any of the other horrifying events that have dominated the news and distracted me throughout the week.
It’s been surprisingly easy to keep it all from them. We weren’t at the marathon; in retrospect I’m grateful for the fatigue that kept me from taking both girls over to the crowded corner just a mile from our house where we can see the runners. Their preschool is closed for spring break this week, so there was no risk of them hearing about it from friends with older siblings. Finally, we’re not in the habit of keeping the TV on in the house, and I get my news from NPR and online sources. I generally don’t talk to them about world events; they’re focused on learning through picture books, baby dolls, and sandboxes—as they should be. I just don’t see a need to distract them with information that is beyond their cognitive and emotional abilities.
I have friends who have told their young children about what’s going on, and I think every family needs to do what feels right for them. Here’s what I know. My younger daughter is equally mischievous and oblivious, not yet terribly curious about the world beyond her immediate awareness. My older daughter, however, is a sweet, fragile child, easily prone to fear and anxiety. Fortunately, her worries are the right size for how she understands the world; she is scared of our cat sneaking up on her, of tall slides, and loud noises. It’s true that her awareness is expanding every day, and she’s starting to ask about what happens when we die and who will take care of her if her father and I die. I answer those theoretical questions as honestly as I can while still communicating to her that she is safe and that we’ll be around for a long time.
But those are typical questions for a child her age, a little one who is just starting to figure out how the world works. She is just as likely to ask about death as she is to ask about life, about how to get a baby in her belly. (“Don’t worry, Sweetie,” I tell her, “When you are old enough to have a baby, you’ll know how to make one.”)
Death. Life. When are you old enough to learn about it all?
It’s different for every child and every family, and if we’re lucky, we get to choose what we share with our children and when. If we’re not—as far too many parents in around the world, and now in my own town, aren’t—the painful reality of terrorism intrudes on our children’s sweet innocence far earlier than it should. I know that my girls will learn about all of it soon enough, and we’ll handle it when it happens. For now, ignorance truly is bliss, and I am grateful for it.
- Read another Boston mom’s perspective on the lockdown.
- Get expert advice for talking to your kids about tragedies.
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