As a Canadian and as a mother, I was shocked and horrified by the shooting on Parliament Hill last week. Concentrating on that second part, as a mother, it was a good opportunity to teach love to my children.
Love is the opposite of fear. When scary things happen in our world, and they will, and they always have, I’ve grabbed onto it as a reminder to teach my children and talk to them.
First of all, I’m a big believer in telling kids the truth. That means that when an event like this shooting happens, I tell them about it. I am age appropriate in my speech and I don’t over-inform the boys, I just give them the basic facts and then let them ask questions from there, usually at the dinner table, as this is our family communication time each day.
So, last week I told them that it was a very sad day for Canada and that I’d cried because a Canadian soldier was shot in Ottawa by another man. The boys initiated a discussion about it, which included talk of bad guys, which I gently corrected that the person who shot the soldier made a bad decision but that we didn’t know him to know if he was a bad guy. I told them to focus instead on loving Canada and the fact that we have great soldiers and sending love to the family of the soldier that was lost. As more truth was revealed in the news about the shooter, we revisited the conversation again and I told the boys how sad I was for the shooter being mentally ill, and how I hoped that he had found treatment before he hurt other people, but he didn’t. And we expressed love for all people that are ill in every way, and want hope and comfort for them.
While this is a sensitive topic and not something that everyone will agree on, I encourage you to be honest with your children in times of trouble, offer the minimum relevant information and don’t give them way too much info, and teach love in every instance.