Did You Tell Your Kids About the Connecticut School Shooting? Moms Weigh In

In the wake of Friday's tragic Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, which took the lives of 20 first grade students, there's a flurry of advice going around for parents: How to talk to your kids about the school shooting; how not to talk to your kids about the school shooting -- both online and from our kids' schools themselves. Depending on your child's age (and media awareness) it's a tricky question. Here, iVillage moms weigh in:

"My daughters are 7 and 9 and I decided not to tell them about it. I went back and forth (if they hear anything, it should be from me!) and ultimately decided if they came to us with questions I would answer them as honestly (and with as little detail) as possible, but if they didn't hear or know about it, why on earth would I put the fear of God into them about something none of us can control? It's gut-wrenching either way, but for me it came down to a question of 'what good can come of this?' (telling them)." -- Jenna

"My kids are 4 and 7 and we received a similar message from both my children’s schools -- to let kids lead the discussion if they do hear about it and to limit their exposure to media images of the event. We put the newspapers away and had them watch Netflix this weekend. It's possible they'll hear about it, but we'll wait to have that discussion until they bring it up." -- Lisa

"We didn't tell our 5-year-old. We feel he's too young and it's not something he would benefit from trying to understand now. There is only a very small chance that he would hear about it at school. I did ask his teacher to let us know if she does hear it come up among the kids." -- Anna

"We didn't tell our boys (almost 9 and 10), but we didn't take steps to assure they wouldn't overhear. I was pretty sure they'd find out about it from TV or friends eventually. They've heard about it, but haven't asked any questions. We took the time to pray as a family for the families." -- Heidi

"My husband asked our 12-year-old if she'd heard about it, or if they talked about it at her school on Friday. She had (and they hadn't). She didn't seem like she wanted to talk about it, so we're following her lead, and we're keeping the TV off. I figure the fewer details she hears the better." -- Ilsa

"I did speak to my kids about Sandy Hook on Friday. I took my older kids (ages 9-12) aside first  and explained that there was a terrible tragedy at an elementary school. I told them that a man with a gun had entered the school, and shot and killed both students and teachers. I told them that I had never in my entire life heard about such a thing taking place at an elementary school -- and this was extremely rare. I told them that I was sure that the teachers did everything they could to protect the students. And I specifically used the term "school shooting" because I knew these would be the words they would hear if they overheard a news story or even when they attended school on Monday. At dinner I had a conversation with all of my kids, including my three younger children who are ages 7-8. Here again I did talk about a man with a gun and I explained that he had hurt people. Our school district sent out an email on Friday with links to advice on how to speak to your kids. And they sent out another email last night explaining how they would handle discussing this in school today. They are also scheduling safety meetings this week so that parents can come in and ask questions and hear about the district's emergency plans. I feel that they are being very proactive." -- Sharon

"We decided not to tell our 6-year-old daughter unless absolutely necessary -- if her school talks to students about it, for instance. We want her to stay innocent as long as possible and not know about such terrible things. I can barely wrap my head around it, and it scares me. I don't want her to feel like I do." -- Ellen

"We didn't talk to our Kindergartener about it, nor did our daughter's teacher ask us to. My husband and I considered bringing it up, but we didn't. I know I wouldn't be able to talk to her about it without breaking down, and I didn’t want to upset her. She hasn't heard about the shooting, but if she hears anything about it at school today and has questions, we'll certainly have a talk about it. In the meantime, I bet she's wondering why mommy and daddy seem so clingy!" -- Jessica

"I had to tell my 6-year-old. We didn't want to, but the school sent around a note about how it's likely that even the little guys will hear something at school on Monday and how it was better to hear from parents first. We talked very generally about how kids were hurt, but my daughter asked very specific questions and we were honest with her. It broke my heart." -- Liz

"We decided not to tell our kindergartener about what happened unless she asks. I was having second thoughts when I saw on Facebook other parents talking about how they were going to tell their kids, because they wanted them to hear it from their parents and not other children at school. But I messaged the moms of several of her classmates and they all said they were deliberately keeping the news from their children, so I felt better knowing she was unlikely to hear about it from her closest friends, at any rate. If she does, and has questions, we'll just answer them as simply and truthfully as we can." -- Jeannie

"I understand why parents are talking to their kids about this and in some schools, parents and kids have no choice but to have that gut-wrenching conversation. We decided not to talk to our son about the news because he's only 5 and I don't want him to be scared to go to school. For now, we want to do everything we can to shield him from this unthinkable tragedy." -- Dina

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