Our children do not need to know everything we know right now
A few weeks ago I was driving my son to his soccer practice. Usually, these drives are the ones when we have the most important discussions. There’s just the two of us, and my son knows he has my undivided attention. This time something was different.
Every now and then he would put his hands on his ears, to block the conversation.
Or so I thought. I was getting a bit annoyed and was just about to say something about respecting me enough to listen to me while I was talking, but then I realised that it was not my words that he was trying to mute.
“I turned off the radio”
I always have a radio on when I am driving, and I realised that between the songs, different charities sounded out their pleas for donations. To help the people of Ukraine. My son did not want to hear these messages as they were heartbreaking. I turned off the radio and my son relaxed, his shoulders went down, his hands came off his ears, and he chattered happily about his day. We did not talk about this, but when I went to pick him up after the practice, I just said that I will not listen to the radio anymore when he is in the car. He just smiled and said “good”.
We adults might be able to tune out some of the messages about the war, but kids are not. And hearing and seeing the messages every day stresses them out. I heard that after 9/11 some kids thought that there were tens and tens of different planes hitting skyscrapers every day as the same footage was shown in the news repeatedly. The kids did not know how to ask about it, because they saw that their parents and other adults were so upset about the whole thing. But imagine how scary the world was in the eyes of a small child who thought that every single day new airplanes were hitting new buildings in their country.
We need to protect our children from the news overload
When the war in Ukraine started, I was obsessed with the news. But I knew that I should protect my children. We do not have a TV ON at my house unless we watch a specific tv-show together. It is one way of protecting them. We have had discussions about what the war means, and that many people have left the country to be safe but at the same time many have stayed behind to protect their country.
My sons love sports and they have noticed that Ukrainians or Russians are not part of all the competitions and we have talked about why. But then my 10-year-old told me one day that he does not want to talk about it anymore. He understands what is going on, as well as anyone of us can really understand, but he would like me to protect him and not share things about the war anymore. I kept my promise and he feels protected.
Our children will learn the ways of the world in their own time
The world is in turmoil at the moment. But unless we personally are living inside the crisis, our job as parents and educators is to make sure that we do not unnecessarily stress our children out. I will talk about the war with my children if they ask about it. But if they don’t, I will let them be oblivious. They will have plenty of time to get to know the horrors of the world when they are older. More mature and hopefully better equipped to face it. For now, they can be children.