Where in the parenting handbook is the section for “protecting your child from mass shootings, terrorism, murder and hate?” Maybe the real question I should be asking is why the hell do I ever need a section titled “protecting your child from mass shootings, terrorism, murder and hate?” Either way this is one of those topics that I struggle with.
I remember growing up and watching the news during Operation Desert Storm. I remember writing letters to soldiers when I was in 4th grade. What I don’t remember is fearing for my safety… ever. There’s always been hate in he world, there’s always been hate in everyday life. Society seems to thrive on it… Turn on the news, it’s all that they ever reported on.
The difference is I have a son now. There are horrible people out there and horrible people do horrible things. How do I protect my son from those people and those things? I sometimes think I want to just keep him and Stef by my side 24 hours a day. No school, no mall, no vacations, just us three and the dogs Blast from the Past style (if you don’t get the reference 1. shame on you 2. Wikipedia Brandon Frazier).
I’m pretty sure that 9/11 was a life defining moment in so many peoples lives. That was our generation’s Pearl Harbor. I think that was the day that actually changed my mind set on everyday life… my everyday life. It made me look around more; it made me worry about flying. Sandy Hook, 45 seconds from where I grew up, where my family and friends live, where people I grew up with work… that was the second defining moment I experienced. As an elementary school administrator that day made me change the way I think about visitors in the school and mental health issues.
So how does this recent tragedy in Paris change me? I don’t think it does… I don’t think it makes me say Je suis Charlie. If I wasn’t already; I’m not now. But the other thing is… why do I have to be Charlie to denounce the hatred in the world. Why can’t I be me? I want to think about how I can better the lives of others, but not worry about what other people are doing. I want to raise my son to be a loving, caring human being and I don’t want him to worry about being safe when he is out in the world.
Im not sure how to do that though? How do you raise a child to denounce hatred and terror in a time of hatred and terror without having him actually expierence hatred and terror? I guess this is another one of those abstract things that you feel your way through each day.
Tough questions during tough times. All we can do is focus on teaching our children to love and accept. We can’t shape the world, but we can shape our kids. And they are the future. Je suis Dad.