Thursday, 21 August 2014

I did learn kids watching the news on TV may not be the best thing.

When I was young I was a voracious watcher of the news. I'll never know if it was because I really had a predisposition towards the news, or because it was one of the few television shows I was allowed to watch. (other than the news, the shows I could watch that were longer than 30 minutes were: Little House on the Prairie, Lawrence Welk, Bugs Bunny and of course HNIC) Whatever the reason, very early on I became a lover of current affairs, I had a good understanding of our political system and I enjoyed speaking with adults about the conflict in the Middle East. (Yes, I'm an only child. If you didn't know until now, that just totally gave it away)

By the time I was 11, I had my own subscription to MacLeans.

My friends thought I was weird. My friend's parents wanted their kids to be more like me. And I couldn't wait to have kids of my own, so I could educate them in the ways of Peter Mansbridge and Knowlton Nash. Not to mention my high regard for Peter Gzowski, but that's a post for another day.

Now I'm 16 years into this whole parenting thing, and I think it's gone pretty well. But this morning I began to rethink the whole "let's watch the news first thing every morning" component of our schedule.  I turned the TV to CNN because I knew Kent Brantly was being released from his Atlanta Hospital and I wanted to hear what he had to say. But before the news went there, my 12 year old saw:
1. a picture of James Foley and his beheader, shortly before the event
2. the violence and unrest in Ferguson
3. an erupting volcano in Iceland
4. a report on everything that could go wrong now that the Ebola strain has landed on American soil

We really never got past #1 in our debriefing of what had just been on. I was soon processing with my dear, sweet Chrissy:
1. Who is ISIS
2. Are they in North America
3. What could happen if they ever arrived in North America
4. Did only one person do the beheading or was there a group
5. Why would people do that
6. Does ISIS just hate Americans, what about Canadians, and do they hate their own people as well
7. Why do some people think they will be rewarded in heaven for killing on earth

It was all a bit much. I tried to answer honestly, without using any fear inducing language, but it was hard. I wanted to do justice to her intelligence while holding in tension the big questions about why there is such evil in world, especially when we hold to the fact that God is love.

It was a sobering parenting moment for me. I usually tell my kids that knowledge is power, but this morning I asked myself about the cost of that power.

Maybe tomorrow we'll just watch cartoons.

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