Evans — Explaining bad things to a child is a challenge

Kara Evans writes about parenting for The Armchair Mayor News.

COLUMN — There’s a period in our children’s lives when we are capable of protecting them from nearly anything that may cause them harm. From the flu to poor fashion choices, the modern world has made it so easy that to be safe seems like a given.

Eventually there will come a time when you can no longer protect their innocence. When they go off to school they’re at risk for learning the truth about the Easter Bunny or Santa Claus, or they may forget to wash their hands after sharing a just coughed-on toy.

KaraEvanscol-babyThose examples are small compared to some of the other truths that are out there. Innocence is lost little by little every day a child grows older, but depending on how we explain things that happen throughout their lives, it can potentially make them a better person later on in life.

I am fortunate enough to have yet to go through the “Why” stage of my toddler’s timeline, but we’re getting there. I first noticed it the other evening when my daughter and I settled in for a movie – The Lion King, to be exact. It was the scene where the father dies and the son starts crying.

“Uh-oh, Mommy,” said my two-year old. “Why’s he sad?”

Though I knew she wouldn’t understand what death means, I told her what had happened.


And that was that. I got off easily this time around but unfortunately some day, and probably sooner rather than later, I’ll have to explain what death really means and what it entails, and why it sometimes happens for no good reason.

Take the recent events at Parliament Hill, for example. How do we explain to a (very) young mind that some person, for reasons we may never fully understand, went and opened fire on an innocent individual just doing his job? Is there a way to explain this kind of terrorism to a child without causing them to have some kind of paranoia? Perhaps, but sometimes we just need to shield them from certain details to ensure they don’t panic.

I recall when I was young – in kindergarten or Grade One – when the Gulf War was taking place in the Middle East. My only reaction, which seemed logical at the time, was to panic, worried that someone was going to bomb our small town. I’m not sure how they did it, but my parents somehow managed to explain that nothing bad was going to happen to Canada, and lo and behold, it didn’t.

This isn’t to say that nothing bad can happen to you. Unfortunately, bad things happen all the time to good people, be it something as petty as a paper cut while volunteering at the daycare’s arts and crafts night or something graver such as the events last week.

The world is unfortunately a big, scary place at times, but if we teach our children to make smart choices, perhaps they can keep some of that childhood purity a little while longer. We don’t need to go as far as instilling fear into them, but a little nagging here and there never hurts. (“Remember to wash your hands! Look both ways before crossing the street! Eat your vegetables!”)

Kara Evans tweets from @KaraEvs and blogs on

About Mel Rothenburger (8419 Articles) is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

1 Comment on Evans — Explaining bad things to a child is a challenge

  1. Awesome article Kara! Thankful I’m not there yet 🙂

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