Friday, March 30, 2012

At a loss for words - morality and philosophy with children

Listening to the news with your children can be a dangerous thing. The headline a few days ago on the radio was: 17 year old sentenced to life in Florida for murder of two.
My son’s face was shocked. “17?” he said. “He murdered two people and he was only 17?”
Then my daughter joins in:
“Why did he murder those two people mummy?”
“I don’t know sweetheart”
“Was he a good guy or a bad guy?”
It is 8.30 in the morning, I am barely awake and my daughter is asking me about morality. I wish my brain would function more quickly, that I could think of the best thing to say to an 8 year old and a 6 year old as they ponder the realities of lives around them, of dangerous streets and disturbed people doing horrible things to one another. They are 8 and 6 and I want to love and protect them and keep them safe from harm but...
This is the real world...a world where bad things happen and I can’t pretend that it’s not true
Me: “I don’t know, but it sounds as if he is a bad guy”
My son is 8, in 9 years' time he will be 17. I look at him and hope that when he is old enough he won't ever want to hold a gun and won't ever wander, lost and drunk in an unfamiliar city and be cnfronted by a person with a gun. I hope that the world he lives in will be safe. They are both eating their breakfast, my son remains little overawed:
“17, he’s not even a man yet.”
And that seems a fitting end to our philosophical consideration of the news for the day.

1 comment:

  1. Oh the joys and the challenges of being a parent...
    That fine balance between protecting their innocent little ears and eyes from some of the horrors and of the realtity of the world.
    Last year at school Sioned's teacher used to talk to them a lot about the main news issues. At first I was a bit uncomfortable because as a rule we didn't watch any news with her. After a while though I realised that if it's done with plenty of time for questions and discussion and occasionally reasurrance, then it's ok. We now watch a weekly children's news programme called Behind the news. It's a bit like John Craven's newsround - remember that? It takes a child friendly angle on the big global news stories.
    Have a good week Sian.


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