One of the hardest things Amber and I have had to do as parents is sitting with Kaitlyn and trying to explain why horrible things happen to people. This morning was no different (this conversation would have happened yesterday if we had let Kaitlyn watch the news) as Kaitlyn and I sat and watched Today Show coverage of the horrific shooting in Orlando over the weekend.
What do you tell your 9, almost 10-year-old child when she asks why bad things happen to people? What do you tell your child when she asks why someone would want to kill innocent people? How do you convince your daughter that one of her favorite places to visit, Orlando, is safe? How do you keep your loving, caring, and trusting child from losing hope in society?
I don’t know if what I told her was right, but I handled it the same way that we have handled discussing these types of atrocities in the past, and that was to be honest.
First, I told her that I don’t know why bad things happen to people, and I don’t have an answer for her as to why someone massacred 50 people at a nightclub over the weekend. I told her that I don’t know what could drive someone to hate people so much to commit such a horrible act. I told her that, despite what happened, Orlando is safe, because I don’t want her to be afraid to be there the next time we go there. And I told her that overall, society is filled with kind and caring people like her.
What Amber and I hope is that Kaitlyn’s generation will be filled with kids who are like her, kids who care deeply about others and about the world around them, people who cannot fathom being filled with such a level of hate that they would commit mass murder. I told Kaitlyn that the best way to change the way people are is to always be kind; yes, there will be times where she is angry and upset at someone, but she should never let hate fill her heart. Most of all, I told her to keep being herself. Maybe one day, Amber and I won’t have to talk to Kaitlyn again after the next Aurora, San Bernadino, or Orlando (we never did talk to her about Sandy Hook when it happened since she was in first grade at the time and most of those killed were her age).