Kids watch TV with adults


My Kids Don’t Need to Know the Specifics of the Bruce McArthur Story

Jun 27, 2019

I was a journalist for a decade, and I saw every piece of news from around the world cross the newswire. Every awful thing around the globe literally flashed before my eyes for eight hours a day.

My job was to triage each story to determine its value, reviewing the awful crap and share with the world accordingly.

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It’s been a while now since I had to know all the things, but that doesn’t mean I don’t still see the inherent importance of being informed. Knowledge is power and burying our heads in the sand does a real disservice to people who need their stories told — especially in today’s current political climate.

But what do my children need to know? And what is too much for their young sensibilities to handle?

I will turn off stories which are graphic and very upsetting to children but, generally speaking, I run the news in the morning and don’t think twice if there are downed planes or war battles or a scandal.

My 10-year-old daughter is a sensitive soul and hates violence and all things scary. When she was six, she insisted we leave Frozen because Elsa shooting ice at people was too scary. My almost eight-year-old son, however, can handle much more. When it comes to what shows up on the news every day, you never know if it’s going to be a plane crash or a politician gone rogue, a murder or — although it feels as a rare event — an awesome feel-good story that will lead the day. Turning on the news is always a gamble.

But I start every day in this house with the morning news on TV. We sit down and listen to the morning news team chat about goings-on around the city we live near, the traffic, the weather and the day’s news.

Sometimes that news is scary. Sometimes it’s downright nightmare-inducing. If it’s that bad, I turn it off. My kids don’t need to know the specifics of the Bruce McArthur story.

I could shield them from world atrocities and political strife and scary things that heavily pepper the news. Let’s be real, it’s rare for the news to lead with something good. In any given news cast, I’d say the balance is 90/10 in the bad versus good news department. So why on earth would I choose to scare my kids? Especially the older one, who will absolutely run out of the room if what is on the TV is too scary.

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I don't scare them, but I don’t shield them either. I want my children to know and learn. I want them to ask questions about why something is news, why something is bad, why someone is in trouble, and why, just because someone is in a position of power, that doesn’t make them good or fair or right or honest. I want them to be informed and discerning, questioning and skeptical. I don’t want them to be sheltered from what is going on around them.

I will turn off stories that are graphic and upsetting to children but, generally speaking, I run the news in the morning and don't think twice. They watched the news the day of the Humboldt Bronco’s crash, and for days following. They were horrified and upset, but it lead to conversations about driving safety, the need for attention in the car, team camaraderie, national pride and support and organ donation. It was a tragic story, but I felt there was value in them knowing.

Some people choose to shield their children from that for as long as they can. And I get that. The world isn’t the fun place we want our children to believe it is.

They were sad, but they were informed. They asked questions, and I answered. We had open discussions about the various aspects of the story. Instead of hearing about what Pokémon damage had befallen my child the day before, we talked about why people donate organs and why they were wearing sports jerseys to school and we were leaving a hockey stick outside our house.

I realize that my children are growing up, and will be confronted with the world they live in. Some people choose to shield their children from that for as long as they can, and I get that. The world isn’t the fun place we want our children to believe it is.

But for me, in this house, I want them to know that they are blessed and fortunate, that the world isn’t for everyone else the way it is for them. There is war, famine, political corruption and life-altering events that affect other people. I want them to understand their place in the world, and what it means to be a part of a greater society.

So, we start our days with the morning news. They may ask questions, they may not. But if someone is sad because a plane went down in the country they are from, my child might be able to say ‘I heard about that!’ and that will make her better able to understand why that friend is sad. And that will make her a better friend and — ultimately, a better citizen of the world.

Article Author Leslie Kennedy
Leslie Kennedy

Leslie is a professional writer and editor and mother to two kids who keep her on her toes. When she's not at her computer typing away, Leslie enjoys hitting the yoga mat (a new passion!) or discovering new shows to serial-watch with her husband.

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