The jubilation that some adults showed in reaction to the news of Osama bin Laden's death presented parents with the difficulty of explaining to children why people might be happy about a killing. Wilton mom Karen Keating stepped up to that challenge by reminding her 8-year-old son Max what Bin Laden had done.
"He sent his men to crash the twin towers," Max said when asked what he knew about Bin Laden. Karen Keating explained to Max that Bin Laden was dead because of the evil things he had done.
Max already understood what 9/11 was because they talk often about a family friend who died in the 9/11 attacks, Keating said, and Bin Laden's death had given Max a better idea of just how long ago 9/11 was and how long it took to find Bin Laden, she said. "This has given him a sense of the time element involved," she said Monday as the pair left the Wilton Library . "He wanted to hear the history now."
Max had concerns about whether al-Qaeda could attack again, Keating said, after they listened to the news on the car radio. "His people are getting angrier now, and they could hurt us more," Max said as his mother explained his worry. Keating said she handled that one by explaining that our military is doing everything it can to protect us.
Cider Mill School counselor Marie Geyer said parents should stick to a simple explanation, because young children view most things in terms of their own wellbeing. "They're very concrete at this age. They want the reassurance that they'll be safe," Geyer said.
For Nina Pomeroy, being the first to tell her 9-year-old daughter Allison about Bin Laden was important. "I wanted to be sure she heard it from me first, before she heard kids talking about it at school," she said, also at the Wilton Library.
Pomeroy said she told Allison, "We're not happy because he died, but because he did evil things, and justice was served." Allison was born after 9/11, but said she was aware of what had happened and who Osama bin Laden was.
Asked if her classmates at school discussed Bin Laden Monday, Allison said they did, specifically about how Bin Laden was killed. "And do you know how he died?" Nina Pomeroy asked her daughter. "He was shot," Allison said.
How did you explain Osama bin Laden's death to your child? Please leave a comment below.
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