Scene: an Australian family watching tv in May 2011
Daughter No.1: Dad, how come Prince William and Princess Catherine’s daughter won’t be the Queen if she has a brother?
Daughter No.2: That’s not fair!
Daughter No.2: Why did the PM say that about that man? (at 1.25-2.20min)
Daughter No.1: What does justice mean?
Daughter No.1: Why does someone get…what’s that word…bea-tif–ied?
Daughter No.2: What does irreverent mean? Why is Mum laughing?
How have you explained the heavily reported events this month to your own children?
To be specific:
- The royal wedding
- The assassination of Osama bin Laden
- The beatification of Pope John Paul II
To be even more specific:
- hereditary systems of government not least the discrimination against females and religious groups
- the breaking of international law by the USA and the ‘right of might’
- the process of becoming a saint
- the role of ‘God’ in our history and still unfolding text of societal structures
My partner and I take the approach of saying what we believe and then telling the kids how other people see it too, especially if we can name folk from their world.
I am finding it positively medieval…and tend to use humour, some of it inappropriate for the children.
cc licensed ( ) flickr photo shared by The White House
Slider image: cc licensed ( BY NC SD ) flickr photo by Ennuipoet: http://flickr.com/photos/ennuipoet/5539852342/
Love how you manage to provide questions that result in deep thinking and evaluation of practice, Darcy!
There are lots of factors involved in your exploration of parenting styles. Children asking these types of questions has a series of stages. When they are little they don’t always know the impact of the question they are asking so it is often important to ask a return clarification question or simply ask them their perspective so that you get an insight into what precisely they are asking rather than assuming you know what that is. Sometimes it is just that they are learning about questions as a means of engaging you in conversation and they don’t really care about the answer at all!
As they get a little older and their need for specific answers increases, we have always tried to answer specifically and to NEVER shut the topic down – no matter how hard that is at times. Sometimes that requires admitting that you don’t know the answer, or this is the answer but you don’t have to like it – and maybe when they are older they can find a way to change that to a different answer. Our son has sometimes listened and then interrupted and said, “That’s enough answer for now, Mum!”
This is part of a larger parenting issue of learning how to modify your relationship as your children’s needs change. Establishing open communication when they are very little is the groundwork for their changing needs as they grow. Thankfully they don’t arrive aged 25… although sometimes they may achieve understanding well beyond their years.
The other important issue hidden in here is the whole issue of exposing young children to information that may or may not be appropriate. In our world of multiple screens and quick, easy access to world events, it is difficult sometimes to intervene and decide that some information is not appropriate for exposure to children and they have a right to be protected from the responsibility of “knowing”. It is important to remember that seeing and hearing and knowing cannot be taken back so we need to decide to limit access when we think they don’t need to know yet.
Apologies for the long response… enjoyed the thinking through this issue… just my opinion after all!