Like a lot of other people on Monday, I spent way too much time watching TV and checking social media for updates on the devastating tornado in Oklahoma. I checked on my family that lives there and reminded them I love them. I don't know if it's the fact that journalism never quite leaves your system, or if its a natural inclination, but I tend to overdose on news. Death and destruction of any kind is sad, but the news seems worse when those who perish are children. I saw the statements come up on Facebook about keeping your kids from watching tv. Reminders that kids don't need to be exposed to that kind of information. I agree with this for the most part -- my kids didn't look at images of children being carried from wreckage or adults weeping over their loss. But completely shielding children from this situation would be a disservice to them and an opportunity missed.

Our 4- and 6-year olds didn't see the images on TV. At least not when we were around them. We didn't tell them about the tornado, because they don't have the capacity right now to understand that nature is random, and that sometimes bad things happen to good people. Heck, I don't understand those things -- much less why little kids have to die. We did take the opportunity to remind them to always listen to their teachers, especially if there's an emergency. They talked about fire drills, because that's what they know. In my mind I was thinking about tornadoes and gunmen. A gentle reminder, though, is what's appropriate for them right now.

The Oldest knows what happened. She's 12, so we think that she's old enough to get the fact that you have to keep an eye on the weather, and be aware of your surroundings. I also want to make sure she understands that in times like this people hurt, but the very best thing we can do is donate money and pray. Trying to understand is pointless, but when we pray and give something, we are helping.

The long and the short of it is, if you think your kids aren't going to get information from somewhere other than you, you're wrong. Media is everywhere. Their friends talk at school. If you want to help your kids, you need to be the person to give them age-appropriate information. Dispensing information does not only apply to the news, but also to sex, drugs, smoking, any other topic. Yeah, it's hard to talk about. Yeah, you don't want to think that your kids will ever need this information, but at some point they will have questions. I would much rather have my child ask me questions than the kid next to them in class.

The world may seem completely out of control, but we have the power to help our kids feel a bit more secure. That security starts with age-appropriate information about the big topics. It stinks, but you'll be glad you shared the time and conversations with your kids.

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