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Why do we have to have these conversations with our children?

February 22, 2018

This morning my husband and I were talking about the news. He was standing in the kitchen making lunches and I was sitting at the table with two of our children eating breakfast. Before we got too far into our news conversation I stopped and turned to our children: 8 year old boy (3rd grade) and 6 year old girl (1st grade).

“Did you guys talk about the school shooting at school at all?”

My son responded, “Yeah, we talked about what to do. We sometimes have soft lockdowns because of things happening in the neighborhood, but never a hard lockdown. We talk about what to do though.”

“Does it make you scared?”

“Kind of.”

“Yeah, you know your school is safe and your teacher wants to keep you safe. But, sometimes things happen where we can’t all be safe. What do you think you should do?”

“We are told to hide in the corner of the classroom.”

“Yes that is a good idea and be very quiet. Sometimes people say that you should also play dead. You know like a dog might play dead then the person with the gun will leave you alone.” Turning to my step-daughter: “Do you guys ever talk about what to do at your school?”

“We practice if bad guys come to our school. But we haven’t ever had one.”

“Yeah, that is good. I hope that it doesn’t happen at a school again. Your school or even my school. You know they happen at colleges too?”

The conversation might seem “too mature” for a 6 and 8 year old, but my husband and I go by the rule of being completely honest with our children. If they ask us how babies are made, we tell them about the anatomically correct situations. And, we do not sugarcoat it with “you fall in love and…”. Sometimes babies happen when two people don’t love each other, but that does not diminish the love for that child. I view our parenting and conversations with our children as being real. Everyone has their own view, and everyone has their right to their own view of parenting. My children know that what we talk about at home doesn’t necessarily need to be shared with peers because their parents might want them to know something different, something will less “adult language” as some might view it.

The conversation about the school shootings continued on to the topic of guns. My husband and I do not own guns and to be honest I am not really a “gun” person. I respect people who want to have them, but it is not something we have in our house. I have seen one too many people die or have life changing experiences from gunshot wounds (see previous post). Since our children continued the conversation onto guns, my husband and I continued also. We had the conversation about never playing with guns and if you ever see a friend or peer playing with a gun you tell an adult immediately. There is no reason to be messing around with a gun. Too many accidents can happen when guns are involved.

School shootings and guns: I do not have all the answers, as no one really does, but as a parent, former classroom teacher, and current college professor I am confident that changing our gun laws will protect our children. It does not matter if their school has locked doors, it does not matter if you believe “it will never happen here”, it does not even matter if you believe everyone has the right to bear arms. I have gone through one too many practice intruder drills and every time my mind races, “Will I actually do this if there is an active shooter or will my motherly instinct cause me to react differently. How do “they” know this is the best way to behavior if there is an intruder?”

Every teacher has personal stories about students they love, they call their own, and will protect if the time comes. But that should not even be on our minds. The idea that we need to protect other people’s children from guns should be the least of our worries. School is a place meant to be safe. A place we trust will provide education and safety to our children.

So I ask, do you want a flag flying at half-mast because your child was killed while at school or because they saw their teacher killed in front of them? I don’t. I don’t even want to have the conversation with my children about what to do if an active shooter ever enters their school.

From → Education

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