Talking to Kids In Times of Trouble


This morning while getting ready for school, we watched Good Morning America per our morning routine. Of course, in light of the attacks in Barcelona, the mood remained somber. Maddox asked me why somebody would attack Barcelona. His voice wavered, brow furrowed in confusion. I did not know what to say so I answered “I don’t know, buddy.” This continues to nag at me as I contemplate what to tell my kids in times of trouble for what seems like the umpteenth time this year.

Do you know what my kids hate? Chores. Childish drama. Getting up early. I think that’s about the sum total of their hatred at this point in life. They do not understand how anybody could hate a stranger so much as to run them over with a car or shoot them or blow them up. At eleven and twelve years old, my kids are troubled by the hatred they cannot understand. Unfortunately, “I don’t know,” is not a sufficient answer anymore. They are old enough to know better.

But, how do I explain something I do not understand?

Talking About Times of Trouble

I do not lie to my kids. They are too smart to fall for lies and too curious to not seek better answers for themselves. I’d rather they hear from me than a Google search. I am troubled by what is happening in this world and I know that I have remained silent for too long. It is very difficult to discuss the horrors being committed with such regularity all around the world while teaching my kids that hate has no place in our world. I can only hope that more parents will teach their kids the same lessons though I fear, based on what I see every day, this is not the case.

Reading For Understanding

We read a lot in this house – even though my son is not a fan. Books are keys to understand so much about where we come from. In times of trouble it becomes necessary to tailor your reading material to help you through the turmoil. To that end, I am very pleased that my daughter will read Night by Elie Wiesel this year as part of the 8th grade language arts curriculum. I read it once, many years ago but now I read it again.

I compiled this selection of books to read with my kids to open discussion about WWII and Nazis. You don’t have to use my list, of course, there are so many options, but reading is an excellent teaching tool. It is important that our children understand what is happening but also what has happened and why people are so upset. I chose to balance the heaviness of the nonfiction with some lighter fiction pieces. Autumn and I will be covering these books this year but Maddox will only read those that are at his reading level.

  • Night by Elie Wiesel
  • The Diary of Anne Frank by Anne Frank
  • Maus by Art Spiegelman
  • The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
  • The Only Thing To Fear by Caroline Tung Richmond
  • The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne

Nazis Are Bad

It’s that simple. Nazis are bad. If you don’t believe that, if you can’t say those words then my blog is not for you. My kids know only a fraction of what the Nazis did and they understand Nazis are bad. Exterminating an entire people based on their religious beliefs IS BAD. I don’t give a crap who you love or what God (or Gods) you worship. It doesn’t matter what color your skin is or where you live. If you are kind to me and mine, we’re all good. If only more people adopted that philosophy and stopped trying to force others to conform to their belief systems. What a world this would be!

Final Thoughts

There are no pictures. No links. No light-hearted jokes or sarcastic quips. This is post is just me, heartbroken over the unadulterated hate perpetuated by ignorance and inability to think for oneself.  I’m just hoping that people will read this, stop and think about it, and act somehow, someway. We cannot be silent.