Moms Talk Q&A: How Does Your Family Talk About Disasters in the News?

And how do you approach tough subjects with your kids?

With news coverage focusing on issues like the recent earthquake in Japan and military action in Libya, parents must decide how to approach sensitive subjects with their children. How much—if at all—do you talk to your kids about these types of world events? How much can you say to keep them informed without scaring them?

We'd love to hear your thoughts. Please jump in and share your stories in the comments box below. Our Moms Council members will offer their wisdom too.

And if you missed last week's discussion, we talked about .

Susan Stone March 30, 2011 at 06:56 PM
So far I have not had to go into much detail about the sad things happening throughout the world, although my seven year old has asked about Japan and Haiti and even 9/11. I have told her a little of what has happen and I know she understands as much as she can at this point, she still makes signs for Haiti and wants to go around the neighborhood collecting money for them. We try and give her just enough information and then let it sink in. I will always explain to her anything she asks about but I try not to offer to much information at this point. I really just want her to worry if the friend on the bus is going to get to come over today or not.
Becky Slatin March 30, 2011 at 10:45 PM
We've made a conscious decision to keep our child informed about what is happening in the news and in the world around us. Several factors weigh into this decision because my husband and I have both worked as journalists and I grew up in a household that regularly discussed the news on television and in the newspapers. In fact, we still have three daily newspapers delivered to our home and watch the news regularly. We live in a big world where the day's events can have an impact – not just on our country but locally whether it's at the gas pump or how we treat one another as individuals. Whether it's the tragic shootings that occurred in Arizona or the earthquake in Japan, we've made the decision to talk about these events and how they impact those affected directly and what they may mean to others. We try to discuss what is happening with our child directly before he watches TV, sees an article in a newspaper, magazine or online, or hears about an event from friends to give him a foundation and hopefully extinguish fears. He always has questions about what he has heard and I'd like to be the one to answer if possible. Staying informed is key to understanding our world and recognizing that despite all the tragedies, there are always positive events and people making a difference that often come out of the tough news.
Denise Lee March 30, 2011 at 11:06 PM
We talk about all the events in the world in our home. My husband and I provide details but only up to a point. I agree with Victoria - why get gruesome. It's enough to know that these tragedies have killed thousands and left even more hurt and homeless. I do not believe that gory details stimulate compassion, and compassion is the anticipated response in our family. We pray - prayer is important in our lives. We help in material ways too. And we pray some more. The earthquakes in Haiti and Japan prompted my son to ask if a large quake could hit this area. While it is possible for an earthquake, a tornado or any other disaster to hit us, worrying about it does not prevent it from happening and will has a 100% chance of wrecking our time in the present moment. Don't get me wrong, we have items for disaster preparedness because it is good to be prepared. But living in the now is indeed a blessing.
TP March 31, 2011 at 02:33 PM
Since our kids range from 5 to 14, our responses, discussions and converstations cover a broad area as well. For the younger one, who is also our most empathetic, the coversations about what happened are very factual but high level. Then, knowing that on the heels of her concern for others is fear for those she loves, we talk about how we can help those that were hurt and ways we keep our family safe. The combination seems to give her the information she needs, keep it in approporate perspective for her, and not rock her security too much. For the older ones, there are deeper conversations about "why" when the topic is military action or violent events. After the facts, and they share their thoughts, we also cover ways they can keep themselves safe in situations they may now be worrying about (ie: gunman in a crowd) or our action plans for natural emergencies. Understanding the event (at the appropriate level) and adding to that a way to keep them from feeling helpless or out of control are what we focus on. At all ages we address their worries and try not to color their thoughts or increase those by adding our fears. By giving them information to frame the event, and tools for coping with their worries, we hopefully keep everything in balance.


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