Monday, December 17, 2012

Tragedy in Newtown Connecticut

I've been avoiding the internet since Friday. I've been avoiding nearly all media, actually. I had to, for my own mental health. I confess, I've had moments of guilt- the families in Newtown, CT can't avoid it. Their lives are forever altered. How will they recover? I truly don't know.

But watching the unending media coverage- the interviews with third graders, the photos of utter chaos and unthinkable horror will not change life for those families. Making myself suffer through every horrific detail only makes my life worse. Makes my mental health worse. Makes me less able to effectively help my children navigate this horror.

And so, I've tried my best to maintain a normal life for my children. I don't tell them I can't sleep because I'm crying for children and families in Connecticut.

On Saturday morning my husband and I had the most difficult conversation of our lives with our children. Until we sat them down, they had no idea what had happened. How do you tell a ten year-old and a seven year-old that a man killed 20 children in a school? I kept thinking, "I'll just wait 5 minutes. Let them be innocent for 5 more minutes." But we had to tell them. They haven't seen any news, but there's no way in this media age that they wouldn't hear about it from kids at school or on the bus.

Before we sat them down, we consulted a few resources. So today, I offer them to you in case they can help you talk with your own children.

And here's a list of Ways You Can Help the Newtown Community.

Finally, please take care of yourselves. If you find you or your children struggling, don't be too proud to seek help. If you don't know where to start, try your children's school. School Psychologists and Adjustment Counselors work with therapists and counselors in your area. They can help you find and access resources in the community for you or your children.

If you participate in organized religion, speak to your Imam, Rabbi, Pastor, or Priest. Talk to your friends and relatives. Hold them close.



  1. For what it's worth: Our two girls were aged 9 and a few days shy of 6 on 9/11/01. We quickly decided that they should not see the news coverage, and that while we would talk about it, we'd avoid dwelling on it and would make sure that life was as normal as possible for them, including the pending birthday party. Years later, the 9-year-old (now 20) said that because we weren't freaking out (at least not in front of her), she didn't feel all that scared, and that she appreciated how we had handled it (along with not telling her that her classmate's mother's death the following summer was a suicide, until years later). So maybe you're doing the right thing. And sadly, you are correct--making yourself suffer will not help the families in NewTown.

    1. Marianne,
      Thank you for your thoughts and for sharing your daughter's comment. I hope it will help parents who read this.

      We, too, had to navigate 9/11 with children, but not our own. My best friend was on her honeymoon and her 5th and 6th grade daughters were here with us. We talked with my friend via telephone and made the same decisions then- no news coverage (except to view the President's address). We told them the basics and let their needs guide the discussion. I did the same thing with my 4th graders.