Kids and War

How do you explain war to your child?

My knee jerk reaction is to try to shield them from the horror. There is nothing pretty about war. What is going on in Syria is unbelievably sad, and angering. To see people suffer, lose there homes and have to flee their countries in order to survive is unfathomable. Seeing innocent people killed, particularly the children by chemical weapons is devastating.

My boys have been wondering what is going on in Syria and why. It’s hard to explain. It’s ultimately about people not being able to get along and resorting to violence instead of finding peaceful solutions. I get that solving these types of problems aren’t easy, but I really want my boys to know that war is not the answer and never will be.

My youngest son got some exposure to war recently in his social studies class.  The class was studying Native Americans and their struggle to maintain control of their native land from the settlers.  Each class member was assigned a position — you either were a Native American tribe member or a member of the American military. My son was part of a tribe. The class was given different situations and asked how they wanted to handle it. In one situation, both groups wanted a piece of land and neither was willing to give the land to the other. Their choice was to 1) sign a treaty that allowed them to share the land, or 2) decide to fight the other for the land. My son said, “Mom, I signed the treaty, but others kids in the tribe decided they wanted to fight.” “What happened? ” I asked. “Well, I lived,” said my son, “those who fought died.” Wow, I thought, this is a pretty good lesson he’s learning. The next challenge the class was faced with was 1) stay on the Reservation and be safe, or 2) fight and have to get your land back. “What did you choose?” I asked my son. “Well, I was going to go back to the Reservation because I wanted to be safe, but got accidentally shot by one of my classmates who thought I was trying to leave the Reservation,” he said. The idea that my son got ‘shot’ by friendly fire didn’t go unnoticed. Seems  this class activity was a little more realistic than I would have thought. “What did the lesson teach you?” I inquired. “Well, fighting almost always results in death. You might as well find a way to make peace.” Wow. Nine years old and he’s already figured this out. I wish some of our world leaders could.

How do you talk to your child about war? How do you help them understand unexplainable things?

Alone Time

Do you ever crave having alone time: when you don’t have any distractions and allow yourself some peace and quiet?

I never realized how much I craved, actually needed, alone time until I had my kids. We’re conditioned to have noise around us. I know I used to like having the TV or radio on in the background when I was single and lived in an apartment. It made me feel less alone. Now, there are people around me that require my attention all hours of the day: co-workers, spouse and kids. And while I crave alone time, true peace and quiet, it is uncomfortable for me when I have no sound around. When things are silent, instead of relaxing and recharging, I let my head fill up with all the “to-dos” I still need to get done. I may not turn the TV or radio on, but I’m letting noise in.

My husband and I were able to have a weekend getaway with the help of my parents. It was a great time for us both to work on find alone time together–just being with each other in silence and enjoying it. And it was great for the kids…they loved having an adventure with their grandparents. It worked wonders for us all, and reminds me that I need to make space for ‘peace and quiet’ (even if they are brief) everyday.

Where do you experience peace and quiet? How have you (and your family) benefitted from alone time?