Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Raising kids in a cruel world

I always supervise the kids' TV time. I have nothing against TV since I'm always around to explain to them what's going on and we use the show to learn colors, numbers, shapes, values and many other things. But when I'm cooking dinner, the kids are usually playing with their toys so I switch the TV to the news so I can find out what's happening in the world.

Last night, Vito was playing with his LEGOs while Vince bathed Iñigo. I was preparing the pork chops so I switched to TV Patrol. Then I noticed that my 3-year-old boy had gotten quiet. I checked on him and saw that he had stopped playing and was watching the civil war in Zamboanga. Civilians were running helter-skelter, clutching at belongings like bags, electric fans and water jugs, holding babies and young kids close, fear in their eyes. Periodically, when gunfire erupted, they would stop running and drop to the ground or hide behind trees. My Vito was transfixed.

"Okay, honey, let's go watch Disney Channel!" I said brightly.

"No, Mama!" Vito cried. And I don't know why, maybe it was his voice or the stricken look in his eyes, but I didn't change the channel. Instead I sat down beside him to explain what's going on.

I told him about how the families were caught in a battle and that they needed to escape to somewhere safe so that they'll not get shot or killed. He pointed to a crying girl and asked, "Where mama? Where papa?" And I said, "I don't know, baby. Maybe the soldiers will find her mama and papa."

He watched a bit more while I explained a bit more but finally, I said, "Okay, enough. It's your turn to take a bath."

And my Vito sighed. I asked, "Are you okay?" He shook his head no. I asked if he was upset. No. Angry. No. Scared. No.

"Mama," Vito said quietly. "I'm sad."

I have friends who say they don't allow news programs and newspapers in their house to protect their kids from the sadness of this world. Since my kids don't read or even care for grown-up TV, I never censored anything. Until now. But until when? Sooner or later, they'll know that the world is a cruel, unjust and violent place. Sooner or later, they must know about it so that they'll do something about it.

But maybe for now, we can pretend that the world is safe. For just a little longer.


  1. You put it so simply...but I feel Vito's emotions. Your son's EQ and IQ is very high. I feel him, its remarkable that at such a young age he can feel the sadness suffering has brought. Other kids would just innocently imitate the sound of gunfiring without a care...

    Frances, I find you a no nonsense woman, and if you are my boss or high school teacher, I might label you as fierce ;) ironic as it may sound but i meant this as a compliment...

    So I'm quite hesistant to share you this, but there is no harm in trying. From one mom to another, hope you will find time to read :)

    So Many Innocent Lives Destroyed!

    1. Thank you for the link. I really liked reading it! I also believe that the existence of God doesn't cancel out the existence of evil so for the times that life is tragic or horrible or just plain unfair, it doesn't mean God doesn't exist. It just means evil does and God is there to help if you ask Him.

  2. Aww!! I feel sad too and my heart is crunched for the people in Zamboanga especially the children. I was touched by Vito's reaction and it's so real for him to feel like that. How I wish we could protect always, as parents, 24/7 our kids from harmful things. My heart is breaking when I heard over the radio yesterday that there was a baby killed in the battle in Zamboanga. How cruel really is our world nowadays

    1. =( Babies and children! So heartbreaking!

  3. aw... at 3 yrs old, Vito has his own perception of the zamboanga issue. i think we do need to protect our kids about the cruelty and sadness of this world - as long as we can. but making them aware is another story - and this is something I want Neo to know, so he will learn.

    1. Yes, I never subscribed to the belief that we should shield our children from the truth. But this episode with Vito is making me rethink that. I still believe kids should be made aware of suffering, that way they can develop compassion, but oh so stressful to see your child upset, too!

  4. Oh, Vito! I can just imagine his face while he told you he was sad.

    I have the same dilemma. I censor what Matty watches on TV. I try to keep him safe whenever we go out, by always holding on to his hand, or watching him like a hawk when he's walking around. But I know I can't do that forever. He needs to know how to stand up on his own, literally and figuratively.

    Now that I'm a parent, I understand why my own parents had hesitations whenever we'd ask to go out.

  5. Awww, Frances. I can relate to this. My younger brother died from a heinous crime in 2000, when none of my kids had been born yet. My girls are now 10 and 9 years old while my son is only 2.5 years old. I've told my girls about my brother since they were young. I've told them he died but did not tell them the truth about how he died because I felt they were too young to understand.

    Recently, though I was talking to them about being careful and about how to protect themselves when I accidentally said that my brother was killed by bad people. Needless to say, they were shocked because I never told them that before. They got scared tuloy but at the same time, I think it's also time for them to learn that bad things can also happen to good people. At least now they know they have to always be extra careful. I just hope it doesn't scare them too much that they won't enjoy life anymore.

  6. I used to ban news at home, too. But when my daughter started school last year, I knew I had to allow its existence. Especially when we love staying for a couple of days at my husband's military post. She thought their guns were toys. Now she knows it's part of their job. My little girl would even say "I hope tatay is safe, I miss him 100 times" even if he's in Zambales, not Zamboanga.

  7. I got teary-eyed, Frances. Vito's such a sweet boy. If only we could make the world a better place for our kids' (my future kids, hehe). *sigh

  8. Im from zamboanga and the current state of the city now is beyond belief,beyond words..
    One of the hostage victims was a 2yr old little boy whos dad and mom were in the states,and they had to fly home. .Another hostage victim was a 2yr old boy who got hit with a stray bullet. The captors did not wanna set him free. He apparently died the ff day. That just broke my heart. I have an almost 2 yr old. Thats beyond evil.

    Much as i love the city, my family still
    Lives there, i don't see myself raising a family there. its very sad. But i do not want my son to live in fear and terror.



This is all pretty new to me so please feel free to share your mommy wisdom!