9/11: Explaining the Horror

I knew this day would come, and truly - I *do* relish having my kids ask me really hard questions. It's a facet of parenting where I feel I really excel. I don't lie, I don't majorly sugar-coat; I am honest, b/c I *NEVER* want my children to think one day, "Mommy lied!" and I don't want to treat them like they're not smart enough to handle deep topics, b/c they totally are. We had the big death talk almost 3 years ago, and to this day, it is a major point of pride to me that my kids aren't the least bit freaked out by it. They completely understand it's just life, part of God's plan, and that the only people it's a little bit sad for is us, b/c if whomever died loved Jesus, they're all happy now in Heaven.

But this topic... This one was hard...

9/11 (Where were you?)

We were watching Rising: Rebuilding Ground Zero today on Discovery (fabulous, BTW) while Annelise napped and Will ran back & forth, upstairs, downstairs. Will finally stopped and asked what those two big holes in the ground were...

I told him they were holes where two big buildings once stood. Ten years ago, some very evil men hated America so much, they wanted to try to kill a lot of people. They destroyed those buildings, and now those big holes where the buildings were are going to be beautiful fountains where the family members of the people who died can come and visit.


"How do they know that really happened? What if it wasn't for real?"
{Fascinating how they view things not in their lifetime - 2001 may as well be 1701! :-P I got a little choked up as I verified:} Oh, it for real happened. I watched it all happen that actual day on TV.

"How many evil people were there?"

"Oh, geeze - that's not so many. If they had a knife, you could just knock them down."
They didn't use knives, Buddy. They wanted to kill a bunch of people all at once, so they destroyed those buildings where thousands of people worked before they could all get out.

{I got a feeling that I didn't want to explain that the attackers flew airplanes into the towers, yet. I would never lie to him, but he let that part go, so I didn't have to expound on that today. Thank you, God.}

"Why didn't someone call 911?"
{OK - that made me cry.} Baby, everyone called 911. The police & firemen got there as fast as they could, and a lot of them died, too, trying to help save other people.

"Did the evil guys get away?"
No. They died, too. They killed themselves when they tried to destroy everyone in those buildings.

"Oh my gosh! They are SOOOOO DUMB!"
{Yay, comic relief!} You are exactly right, Bud!!!

"But at least it wasn't a big deal for us."
Well, it was a big deal for us. It was a big deal for all of America. We all came together like a team to help.

{I also didn't want to include, yet, that we were all nervous that we could be attacked further anytime, anywhere, so yes - we all really cared.}

And he was good with that, (the boy bleeds team spirit! :-D) and went back upstairs to play.


That was an intense one, gauging what he could appropriately process. But I'm so glad he asked, b/c it's going to be everywhere this next week, (AS IT SHOULD BE!!!) and I never want him to feel uninformed. It is such a high honor to me to be charged with answering "the big ones" for my children.


  1. susie, that's so perfect... i love that you speak to him honestly! and what an amazing kid...

    i have the task of being with a room full of high school kids this coming week. wierd to think about it, but they were 4-8 at the time of 9/11, and only have distant memories of the day, as opposed to ours that are seared in the mind forever. want to come talk to my students? <3

  2. Since I have a job, I *might* get to be in my own classroom to have a discussion with Freshmen! (The fact that they were only 5-6 really freaks me out!)

    However, Chasity asked LAST year about 9-11! So that one is covered for this year. But...I was watching something about WWII and Hitler the other day and Chasity started asking why Hitler was killing all the people.

    She is sooooooo tender-hearted so I had to stop a few times to dry her tears and explain to her that God had it all planned out from the beginning and HE was taking care of it all! :)

  3. Em - You are so wonderful! And you *KNOW* I would!!!

    Leslie - I know I've got WWII coming one day, too. I am a MAJOR WWII history buff; one day, I was watching a WWII documentary on my laptop with headphones on while the kids watched one of their shows on the real TV. Will wanted to look over my shoulder RIGHT as a shot of a train to the camps came on screen. (Thank goodness just the engine.) But Will is 100% obsessed with trains, and he got SO EXCITED! It was *NOT* the right time to explain to him how his most beloved thing on earth was used to take millions to their deaths. SO MUCH RESPONSIBILITY we have!

  4. Wow. Thank you so much for being honest with him. I agree that it's so important for children to learn about what is really going on in the world, even if it means putting it in simpler terms that is easier for them to comprehend for their age. As much as we want to protect them from hearing bad news, you obviously understaned that ignorance causes far more damage.

  5. Heather - "As much as we want to protect them from hearing bad news, ...ignorance causes far more damage." YES!!!! THIS!!!!! I feel so passionately about that.
    My friend Liz also hit the nail on the head: "not making light of the subject, and allowing him to learn of it in the safety of his momma's presence!" I couldn't stand it if he heard bits & pieces that made him confused (or worse - scared) w/o being able to ask questions! (To someone with correct, educated, honest, appropriate answers!)

  6. I feel that way, too - thankful that my husband and I can be the ones to talk to our children about these things and explain them in a way that is true and age-appropriate. Sounds like you handled the situation like a pro! ;)


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