As I'm sure most of us have, I have been following the tragic news of the disappearance of Becky Watts in Bristol. Obviously my thoughts go out to her family and friends at this unimaginably difficult time. Today, I was reading the latest horrific headlines concerning her murder when a little face popped over my shoulder and started reading. I quickly closed the screen and blurted out that it was just a story Mummy was reading, not real.
Of course the tragedy is that the story could not be more real but the thought of our six year old son reading about it sends shivers down my spine. The constant stream of bad news that we see plastered all over the television and internet on a daily basis is enough to make any adult feel depressed and paranoid but how would a child react to it?
It is our responsibility as parents to protect our children from harm and this includes mentally as well as physically. Of course they are bound to hear us talking about bad news occasionally but I honestly believe that there is massive potential to scar them for life if we aren't cautious with the way we read/watch the latest stories.
I was 16 when terrorists attacked the Twin Towers in the USA and I will never forget my Mum's face or words when she picked me up from school...."there's going to be a war". I knew she would never say anything like that if she didn't mean it and that is what scared me. At home I sat with my family and watched the chaos unfold on the television. As a young adult it was important that I was able to watch and understand what was going on but the lasting impact my Mum's reaction has had on me makes me wonder what must go through a child's mind when they see such things.
I don't want my children to grow up frightened of everything. Never daring to step on an aeroplane for fear it may crash, being terrified if anyone coughs or sneezes next to them on the bus in case they have bird flu or any other fears that the moral panic inducing media companies create.
On the other hand I also don't want the boys growing up in an ignorant state of thinking that nothing bad happens in the world we live in. It comes down to age. Innocence is something we must cling to for dear life whilst we can with our children. Happiness is what childhoods should be about and I for one intend on making the most of the time with them when their biggest concern is which friends they should invite to their party or who they are going to marry when they are old (at ages 6 and 3 the oldest chose his best friend and the youngest his Grandpops).
They will have enough to worry about when they are older and have their own family.