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Carolyn Hax: I want to keep my kids in ignorant bliss, so I hid this from them

DEAR CAROLYN: We have two young boys, 8 and 6. We got rid of our TV when they were young. As a result, my husband and I get all our news online and through the Sunday newspaper so the boys aren’t generally exposed to current events.
In the wake of so much deeply disturbing news, is there any downside to allowing our kids to continue to live in ignorant bliss of the violence we have in this country? I can’t think of any age-appropriate way to discuss mass shootings given that I can barely comprehend it myself.
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DEAR PARENT: The downside of all downsides is that your ignorant bliss is a fiction.
Your living room doesn’t have a TV, but I’m hard-pressed to think of a public indoor space that doesn’t have a wall-mounted flat-screen blaring to everyone and no one, at all godforsaken hours. And TV is hardly the only messenger; Kids talk at school, on the playground, in locker rooms, on the bus. And there are other bubble-poppers you can do nothing about. My kids were 9, 9 and 8 the December of Sandy Hook. I never had TV news on in our home anyway,  and definitely didn’t then. The next day, they had an away game in Connecticut, and there was a huge memorial and fundraising display in the rink lobby.
There’s also the one-word conqueror of best parental intentions: phones.
Kids have always known more than their adults want to believe they know, but now? Game over.
So. Maybe your kids’ bubble is still holding, but please accept that it won’t hold for much longer. And for parents, “I can’t think of a way to [blank]” is never an excuse not to [blank].
In fact, if it’s so complicated and difficult that you’re stumped by it, that’s your most reliable sign that they need you to be their guide through it. Otherwise the culture you’re protecting them from will become their teacher. That’s irony you want no part of.
Because this is such a relevant topic right now, parenting blogs runneth over with suggestions for talking to kids about this stuff. I found The Washington Post’s “On Parenting” version clear and accessible: Its response to Parkland strikes the right note, too:
Don’t stint on the reassurances and perspective: As ridiculously prevalent as U.S. gun violence is relative to other industrialized nations, the likelihood of any of it happening to any individual (especially if your personal risk factors are few) is still extremely low, so you can honestly convey a sense of safety to your kids.
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Re: Parent
I was the child of parents who didn’t have TVs and tried to keep us sheltered from the world. It gets old fast when you go to school and everyone is working through some huge event and you have to piece it together. You have to deal with the event, figuring out fact from fiction, knowing your parents’ discomfort is so bad they leave you unprepared.
At some point, you’re not protecting your children, you’re leaving them exposed and defenseless. I would have preferred to learn about things somewhere other than the playground, but you get your education where you can find it.
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Adapted from a recent online discussion. Email Carolyn at, follow her on Facebook at or chat with her online at noon Eastern time each Friday at

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