Talking to Kids About September 11

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Image via Flickr/ idovermani

I was pregnant with my oldest son on September 11, 2001.

It’s one of those days that every American adult seems to have a story about. Most of us can easily recount what we were doing when we heard, how we found out, who we talked to first, who we lost.

It’s a piece of our history that is still difficult to talk about. But giving voice to the events and the emotions surrounding it is important, and sometimes, that voice will be heard by our children.

As a mother to a middle-school son who has stumbled over headlines about it on the Internet and caught reports about the approaching anniversary on the news, I can tell you that the questions will come from their lips or just from their eyes and that taking time in advance to think about what the answers should be will make this difficult discussion slightly easier for everyone. 

Tips for Talking to Your Children About 9/11

1. Be honest. The events that occurred on September 11 were terrifying and devastating to our nation, and expressing that to your children honestly is important. For my children, living in the DC Metro area and having a relative (my mother) who worked at the Pentagon and lost a number of co-workers and friends, they also get to hear how the attacks hurt real people with real families and real friends. I think sharing this with them is powerful and important, as it helps them build empathy and understanding with how actions affect people. 

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2. Stick to the facts. For younger children especially, it is best to simply stick to the facts. Explain to them that on this date bad people hurt a lot of innocent people, and even now, our country and many of the people in it are still healing from that experience. Because they probably don't have any personal memories of the attack, they will only be able to base their feelings about it on the information they receive, so it's important that you ensure they receive the correct information from a trusted source: you. This article, What Happened on 9/11, posted by Scholastic, tells kids what they need to know in an easy-to-read and understandable way. Share this (or something like it) with your children and then talk to them about their thoughts.

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Talking to Kids About September 11

Amanda has been wowing the Internet since 2008 when she launched her pretty-much-useless guide for parents, parenting BY dummies. As it turns out, her parenting advice is not generally useful for more than a good laugh, but sometimes that’s exactly what you need! Amanda spends her offline time (which is embarrassingly limited) running a photography business, working as a social media director for a local magazine, writing freelance articles about stuff she loves, wrangling her 3 little Dudes ... More

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