Why I decided not to tell my daughter about the Sandy Hook massacre

"Talk to your children tonight," my daughter's elementary school's principal said in an email Friday referring to the Sandy Hook massacre. But I ignored it. My daughter is only 6-years-old--the same age as most child victims--and I just couldn't fathom sitting down with her to tell her about one of the most horrific tragedies that have occurred in my lifetime. What would be the point of that? Not only would she not understand--I don't understand either--but ultimately I don't think telling her would've been in her best interest. 

As Monday got closer, my husband wondered if we might say even a little something if only to preempt what she will surely hear from other kids in school today. But again, we opted for staying mum. Did we make the right decision?


I guess we won't know until she comes home from school later on this afternoon. When I dropped her off this morning, I told her teacher she knew nothing of the massacre and she told me she would try to keep it that way for her and all the other kids whose parents decided not to say anything either. But she warned me Vanessa would probably learn something about it either at recess or in the cafeteria.

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She also told me that if the kids came up to her for some sort of explanation or wanting to talk about it, as a person they trust, she would have to deal with the issue. But she promised she would keep it as simple as possible and that she would make sure her main message was one of reassurance. I hugged her and thanked once again for her tireless work. I can only begin to imagine how she feels as a long-time first grade teacher with kids the same ages as 20 of the victims of Sandy Hook. 

And that, in all honesty, is the main reason why this tragedy has hit me so hard. I wanted to stay away from the news this weekend, but I had to work and that meant I was privy to a lot more info than I would've like to. The minute I learned the ages of the children I went running to my daughter and hugged her so hard I think I hurt her. Same thing when their photos started coming out. I tried not to, but I couldn't help thinking how it very well could have been my daughter's first grade class--which made the idea of telling her even more unconscionable. 

I'm praying she ends up not hearing anything at school today, but if she does, I've been preparing for what I will tell her. First, I'll find out how much she knows and take it from there. No sense in telling her all the details, when all she's heard is that something bad happened in another state. Then, I'll answer any specific questions or worries she has. Finally, I'll do my best to reassure her that her school is safe, that she is safe--even though, right now, I'm having a really hard time believing it myself.

Image via las - initially/flickr

Topics: on parenting  parents and children  school  teacher  tragedy  massacre