Welcome to Moms Talk (and Dads), where every week we open up the floor for you to share questions, concerns, and thoughts about raising kids and being a parent.
When I was in fourth grade (I know, I'm a youngun), Timothy McVeigh blew up the federal building in downtown Oklahoma City. I'm pretty sure this escaped my attention as a nine-year-old in Chicago, since it wasn't a hot topic at youth swim practice.
But, the next day, our fourth grade teacher sat everyone down in a circle and told us to ask any questions we wanted. I wasn't the only one who didn't understand what we might want to ask questions about. We were instructed to write down any questions or thoughts or feelings we might have on anonymous pieces of paper. It was only much later that I had any idea how many people were killed or why, concepts that were vague at the time, but one boy's questions still remains crystal clear in my memory: Why does munster cheese smell so bad?
We may have been too young to understand why someone would blow up a building. The lecture that followed that question suggested we were certainly not mature enough to appreciate the gravity of the situation.
Now, we are in the midst of an international crisis. Estimates are suggesting at least 10,000 people are dead following the 8.9 magnitude earthquake and resulting tsunami in Japan last week. And, those numbers are expected to continue to climb, especially as the dangers surrounding the burning nuclear reactors are only starting to be understood.
Chances are your kids have heard something about what's going on -- some schools are even holding fundraisers -- but how much do they know? And how much should they know? How do you sit your kids down and have a talk with them about natural disasters, life, death, and nuclear radiation? Or, do you even talk to them about it? How young is too young for them to understand the situation?