By Amy Hackworth.
I would have preferred not to say anything to our children about Friday’s shootings. I would have preferred to let them continue to live in a world where they didn’t know things like this happen, where this sort of inconceivable heartbreak doesn’t exist, where explanations of this sort are unnecessary.
But I knew they’d hear about it at school, and I knew I wanted them to hear the simple facts from us. My husband asked for some advice on Facebook about how to talk to our boys about what happened. Thoughtful, caring friends shared beautiful ideas and links, including their concern for us, and their trust that we’d do what was best for our kids.
One friend shared a message from Mr. Rogers. I saw it posted again later that day on Facebook, and maybe you’ve seen it, too.
“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of ‘disaster,’ I remember my mother’s words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.” —Fred Rogers
It’s a comforting approach, and so true. As I read the responses to my husband’s call for advice — and Mr. Rogers’ words in particular — I realized that our friends were our helpers. In this tragedy, my husband and I are heartsick, distanced observers and the help we needed was advice, friendship, counsel. Our friends offered wisdom and support. They shared their grief, concern for their kids, too, and their ideas for taking positive action. I’m so grateful for the rescue workers and other official helpers who are heroes, but I’m thankful, too, for the simple ways people offered help to us.
I’m shaken, sickened, by Friday’s news, crying for everyone involved, and mostly at a loss for anything productive to say. So far, one clear thought has emerged from my disbelief and sadness: we can all be helpers — sometimes small, sometimes big, always meaningful. We need each other, and we help each other, and we need to help each other.
That’s an answer to violence and damage. That’s the world I want to teach my children about.
Our conversation with our boys was guided by some helpful tips, including age-specific advice. What did you say to your children about the shootings? How are you taking positive action, and what are the ways you’re seeing others take positive action?