A boy about 8 or 9 years old says to his father, "You're glad this man got killed." The "man" the son is referring to is Osama bin Laden.
"This man was a bad man," explains the father. "He killed a lot of people. In this case it feels good when someone like that dies."
Overhearing that conversation really struck Dr. Barbara Okun, a counseling psychology professor at Northeastern University and co-author of Saying Goodbye: How Families Can Find Renewal Through Loss.
How is a parent supposed to explain such feelings to a child? How do you justify feeling "glad" or "good" about someone being killed? How do YOU feel about the death of Osama bin Laden? (POLL)
While there are no strict guidelines to addressing this to your children, Dr. Okun suggests being open and honest.
"Talk to your children about the paradoxes and dilemmas associated this situation," Dr. Okun said. "Kids need to understand the ambiguity. Some children like the young boy weren't even born during 9/11 and parents may need to explain what happened that day and how bin Laden is a bad man. For young children, parents can explain how occasionally rules are made to be broken. There are exceptions. This is a time to be okay when somebody is killed. This isn't the same situation like losing a grandparent."
For more guidance on how to address Osama bin Laden's death to young ones, Click Here.
For more on loss and grieving:
- Talking to Children About Sickness and Death
- Public Mourning: The Pros and Cons of First-Hand Accounts of Loss
- Top 20 Documents to Have 'Just in Case'
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