Leading My Kid Through Difficult Conversations

With terrorism reports looming large on the news almost every other day, how can you best explain such acts of violence to your young child?


AsianScientist (Aug. 4, 2016) – Paris, Nice, Brussels, Munich, Istanbul.

In the not-too-distant past, these would have been highlights on any European summer holiday itinerary. But in 2016—the year of Trump, ISIS, guns, bombs and axes—these romantic cities have earned a tragic place in the world’s collective consciousness; a mnemonic aid to remembered sorrow.

The echo chamber of social media, mainstream news, and stories gone viral enshrine the horrors and tragedies in what seems like an endless cycle of teary emojis, flag-washed profile pictures and hashtags.

Daily violence writ large

A Wikipedia list of terrorist incidents in 2016 shows that an incident happens almost everyday somewhere in the world. The handful that make it to the mainstream flood our news feeds, each refresh bringing in new angles, shaky citizen journalism videos, and shrill rhetoric.

In this current climate, turning on the radio or TV, or scrolling through Facebook is an emotional gamble in itself. Which will it be, the cat meme or the traumatized revelers running for their lives?

I lost the gamble one morning, as I drove my eight-year-old son to his weekly Minecraft Club meeting.

I’d tuned out the background noise and hadn’t realized the news had come on the radio. The next thing I heard was a question from the backseat that I found impossible to answer at first.

“Why do ISIS think it’s okay to attack random strangers? Why do they like causing chaos?”

After a long silence—I’d turned down the radio by then—I replied something along the lines of, “They believe that causing chaos and harm will help them succeed in their cause. But they won’t succeed. Because chaos never has.”

Now, I don’t know that to be true, but I do know, that right there in the car, where there were any number of possible responses I could have given, that was one of the right(er) ones. NEXT PAGE >>>

Dora Yip lives in Dunedin, New Zealand, and is mom to six-year-old Jordan and two-year-old Jonah.

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