Answering A Child’s Questions About Shocking News Stories

Mom, what is rape?

What happened to that girl?

Was she really my age?

These dreaded questions were asked to me by my almost 8-year-old. She has caught a whiff of a heinous crime that has gripped our country and she is rightly confused.

As a parent, I don’t know how to answer my child’s questions about this news. I am not able to digest such a horrific act myself, so how can I answer her?

Find a Safe Place to Work on Your Feelings First

I needed a safe place to work on these feelings. To think.

As a mother of young girls, these stories hurt the deepest recesses of my heart. I look at my sleeping girls and cry tears of fear and anxiety. I wonder if my children safe from the monsters lurking around? Do they know how to detect danger? Is this a world I want for my child?

As I worked on my feelings, I cried for that child, I cried for my daughters, and I cried for myself. This news brought up feelings I had about living as a woman, a girl, and, before that, a child, and confusion I have over parenting girls.

Get together with a group of friends or family members and share your stories. You can do this using the guidelines of a listening partnership – learn how here. The process helps us move past our own emotions so that we can respond to our children with the kind attention and calm they need to secure them.

The release of my own feelings left me with some clarity and calmness, opening up the doors to my next step…

Shield Them from Brutal Details

As an adult, I am confused and disturbed by the details of crimes like this. Children understand it even less – their world-view is unable to comprehend so much of it. Shield them as much as possible. Keep them away from media coverage, and if they have heard about it and are asking questions, keep your answers light.


What do you think?

How do you feel about that?

Open questions like these give you better insight into what they already know and what direction they would like to move the conversation.

Stay Neutral

News like this causes outrage and fury, understandably, and it can be easy for us to slip into the language of good and bad. But calling the perpetrators of these acts “bad” continues black and white thinking and the notion of “them versus us,” which ultimately furthers division between people and societies.

When you talk together, try not to comment on the personal, and keep to the act itself. In our family, we use the term off-track to describe moments where we move into meltdowns or upset, and we try to understand how that feels. This sense of shared humanness helps us seek understanding rather than judgment.

Use sentences like:

  • That was a terrible thing that happened
  • This is some really off-track behaviour, I wonder what could have happened to cause this?
  • How do you feel when you move off-track? When your friend/sister does goes off-track? How do you feel?

Take action

Doing something that makes you feel like you are making a difference can bring you together and channel a sense of helplessness into something constructive.

Think about an act of kindness your family can participate in. You might set up a ‘nimbu pani’ stall on the street or host a collection drive for toys and clothes. You could bake cookies and distribute them among the homeless.

Coming up with ideas together moves you towards contribution and kindness and takes you away from the rage. Instead, you focus on the connection and love you share as a family, and work on putting more of that feeling into the world.

for more reading and support.

For more understanding about these ideas Use this care package

If events are making your child overly fearful this may help.

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