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Sunday, September 11, 2011



I will never forget waking up 10 years ago today and seeing the news and video of the first plane and then watching, frozen and horrified, as the rest of the day unfolded. We’ve told the girls a tiny little bit about it, as much as it feels we should tell a five-year-old, I guess – and I know from their faces that even those few sentences seem like a made-up story. I hope they never get the chance to see something like this themselves.

What have you told your kids, if anything? I struggle with this one.


  1. I haven't. My desire to raise them both with an honest outlook on the world around them wars with my need to keep them innocent as long as possible. They are 5 and nearly 7, it can wait.

  2. We really haven't told ours much, but the subject came up today because there was a memorial motorcycle ride that came through town (5,000 bikes--pretty amazing), and we got stopped by it on our way home from church. We just told the kids that some people did some very bad things 10 years ago, before they were even born, and these people (the bikers) were helping us to remember. The girls wanted to know more, but we told them we would explain more when they are older.

  3. We went with the basics, because he's seen things on TV. Said that where those waterfalls are now used to be two very tall buildings and some people did a not nice thing and crashed airplanes into them hurting and killing a lot of people. We then went on to say that there were a lot of firemen, policemen and military men that helped, and that is why we should be thankful and nice to those people that help us too.

  4. Anonymous9/11/2011

    Honestly? I'm sure you have handled it appropriately, as a sister has said many times, answer the questions on the level of the child and then drop it.

    In other news, i was totally unaware that the story of Cinderella originated in China. For some reason that totally blew me away.

    The tiny foot and the glass slipper glorified the foot binding of the day.

    Interesting, no? Google it, if you didn't know the read is very interesting. A1

  5. We hadn't talked much about it with our daughter who is 7. But, she came home from school talking about it and was asking many questions. So, I have been trying to answer them in the bast way that I can. The school is calling it a celebration for the heroes and those that helped. Although I feel this may be a good angle, I don't want my daughter to be saying "woo-hoo-it's 911!"

    I've been screening a few of the memorial tv shows to see if any of those are appropriate but I'm not quite so sure yet.

  6. As a NYer, I totally love that you would do that. Thank you.

  7. We have taken a different approach. We talk to our kids about peace and how all humans are the same but some believe different things and some have not thad the opportunites that we have but we need to care about and love everyone in the world....we teach our kids that the USA is a great country but so are many others and ours is not best or even better than most. With that foundation, we talk about when bad things happen and what maybe could have been different if people looked at the world from a place of love and peace instead of judgement or hatred. I know this probably sounds heavy and "out there" to some but it works for our us and our children are curious, do not judge others, are always looking to help, and are very open minded. Today we talked about the people who lost their lives in America on that day as well as people all over the world who have lost their lives. We talked about how grateful we are for our opportunities, our family and friends, and our love for all. We then continued making macaroni necklaces and baking cookies......

    Love and peace to all of you and to our world tonite.

  8. I have an 8 and 10 year old. We have talked a lot about it and why some people would want to hurt other people and how some places even think America is wrong. All I want to do is make sure that my daughters know what is wrong and what is right. That day 10 years ago was just so wrong! My 10 year olds class was interviewed on the local news channel and her teacher was at Ground Zero and saw the devastation first hand. She has made a lesson plan around that day. You need to answer those questions when they come up as honest as possible. Heroes are heroes and bad people are bad! I don't think it is ever an easy conversion!

  9. I remember getting the call from my mom that awful morning and seeing the devastation. I held Peter, then 2, tightly and prayed. He could not understand why I was crying. Later that day, I took him to McDonalds and we went to the park to get away from the TV. Not a plane in the sky as I recall.
    He understands more at 12 then Caroline does at 7. He and I have talked about it and he has seen some of the footage. Caroline has no idea right now and I'd kind of like to keep her innocence for now until she can understand more later.

  10. I remember that day so well too. It was my 40th birthday and I had a nice celebration breakfast with my family before seeing them off to work/school. Then I went to the gym and nobody was there except a worried receptionist who informed me that "the East coast was under attack". I ran back home as fast as I could and stood in front of the TV for hours - with tears streaming down my face.

    Ten years later, I still feel guilty for celebrating anything on this day.

    We never turn on the TV on Sept 11th so I'm afraid my girls don't know anything at all about what happened that day in 2001. We do talk about "bad people who want to hurt us" though. Not enough to make them freaked out but just enough to make them careful.

    Our Blog: Double Happiness!

  11. I haven't spoken a word to them. They know about war, because we are a military family, but even that we've only discussed rather abstractly. At 6 and 4, and with their very vivid imaginations, I couldn't come up with the words. I'm not ready, and I don't think my 2 are ready, for that change in their world view. I figure they'll learn about it all far too soon anyway. They are already scared of what we call "bad apples" (Mr. Stranger Danger), so how could I tell them that bad apples steal planes and kills thousands of people? It's too much for me, and I'm 39!

  12. We watched the memorial service together yesterday. We didn't go in to specifics, just told Grace that some really bad people did some bad things that caused many people to die and the service was to honor them. We're just introducing the concept of "bad guys" over here and she gets it. Here's a good place to get dvds about keeping safe that is age appropriate and fun for kids. http://www.thesafeside.com/

  13. We haven't told her a thing. We purposely avoided all of the 9/11 media that we could yesterday. Our daughter (age 5) is trying to deal with too much other stuff right now to add on that complex and tragic story.

    P.S. I agree with Donna above - thesafeside.com site is great. Our daughter has been watching the stranger safety video for 2 years now.

  14. We have not discussed it with SS, since she is only four. While it is important to remember I become saturated very fast, just like on that day. We were about to get ready for a run when P turned on the TV, the first tower had been hit and we sat in silence watching the second plane crash into the other tower. By the time I made it to work there was a TV on with many of my coworkers watching in shock. I refused to allow the events to rip me apart, so I focused on writing court reports. I had a new supervisor and he yelled at me for being so callous and working. I do not understand why he would prefer that I acted hysterical. There was not a thing I could do, and we lived in the middle of nowhere, we were beyond safe. Maybe I handle stress a bit different. I avoid watching the memorials, my husband watches enough for all of us. Maybe when SS asks I'll give as much information as she can handle.

  15. I had never thought about nor had we discussed it, but we were at a theme park yesterday that had a remembrance ceremony. This (as is usual) gave way to many questions from my two 6-year olds. I had to be honest and explained that some bad men did some very bad things that killed many people. Of course, my girls then asked a LOT of other questions. Quite honestly, I didn't want to answer them, but I felt I had to be honest. It is a really hard thing. I say, answer in an age appropriate way and hope they will accept it. But if they continue to ask questions (as mine do) you have to be honest.

  16. Anonymous9/12/2011

    My little one is only 2.5 but he knew something was wrong yesterday. My husband used to live in D.C. and was there on 9/11. The day always weighs heavy on him and our son noticed. "Daddy sad?" he asked. I told him yes that daddy is sad today but that it will be okay. I took him out into town for the rest of the day. We went to our local pet store and he hugged and kissed every dog we saw. We saw the most beautiful sunset with hundreds of rays of light shooting through the clouds and he stopped and pointed and said "look that mommy!" I choked back tears. I know he will have more questions soon. Bless the little ones who don't have those memories seared into their minds like we do.

  17. My 6 year olds know a lot about 9/11 We always try to give the most honest, accurate and complete answers to any questions they have on any subject. We used the events of 9/11 to give a lesson on tolerance, choosing for themselves what is right and fair and just, standing up for what you believe in and helping those who aren't able to help themselves. We tell them that we wear our colors (red/white/blue) to show we are proud to be American and all the good things it stands for and that we will not run, hide or compromise because some baddies may threaten to hurt us.

  18. I haven't told her and will wait until the school brings up this topic, if they ever do. I don't want her to know about it yet since she loves to talk about traveling around the globe. She wants to travel around the world and for that you need planes so I don't want her to be afraid of them like I am.

  19. I wasn't going to bring up the events of 9/11/01 yet, because I feel at 6 it's too much to handle and we've taken Kelsey to NYC a few times already and she loves the city. However, I had the issue forced on me at Church yesterday during coffee/social hour because there were American Flags with the names of the fallen heroes and photos of the burning twin towers. big sigh.

    I told my daughter the truth, that 10 years ago, in her beloved NYC, there were some evil people who
    wanted to hurt NY and America. The hurt the buildings and some people died. She cried and asked "why" and I said they were evil and now they are dead. It was short, sad and properly detailed for a six year old.

    This is a teachable moment for an older child, but I don't think MY six year old can handle this...especially one who has other more challening personal journeys ahead of them.

    However, I am a little sad that one of your commentors rs and had a lovely view of the WTC refered to the victims as people who "lost their lives." I don't feel that's representative of what happened...perhaps I'm overly sensitive, living where I do and having a more personal experience with the situation.

    Good question, however.

  20. Anonymous9/13/2011

    I'm not American, so it's easier to keep DD a bit more distant from it - when she was 5 she saw film of the plane flying into the tower and I just kept the explanation brief that a plane crashed into the tower, and said it was a stupid thing for someone to do. At the moment she has a fear of "baddies" so I didn't want to go into too much detail. We avoided TV for the anniversary this year but she's allowed to watch some news items nowdays, and we talk about what's happening in the world, so I think next year if it's on TV we might end up talking about it. It's a tough one though, and I can imagine it's much harder for families in America to deal with and explain.

  21. I have a 9 and 10 year old and they asked me on Sunday what 9/11 was, after we saw a video in church. I explained it as simply as I could. Basically I said "There was a very small group of people from the area near Afghanistan, who decided that they didn't like how America feels about some things, including religion and how we interact with other countries. So they snuck into America and got on 4 different planes and once they were in the air, they fought the pilots and took over the planes. They flew one of them into the building where the military for our country is centered, 2 into two very important buildings for businesses and a lot of people died. They think the last one was headed to the White House to hurt the president, but the people on that plane were extremely brave and they fought the hijackers, even though they knew they probably wouldn't live through it and stopped it from getting there."

    I am pretty sure they understood most of it. I made sure to emphasize that it was only a very small group of people from the middle east and that all of the Americans that died that day are heroes.

  22. Laura LaLuzerne9/13/2011

    Our Grace is only 4 1/2, but also have a 15 year old. Didn't tell the older one until she questioned it, which was only a few years ago. I agree with Sabrina in keeping them innocent until they have to know the truth about some things. Stranger danger, to me, is something that must be discussed at a very early age. Wars, terrorists, can wait.

  23. Anonymous9/13/2011

    As I agree 5/6 is young to fully understand.... Our children must learn from us what happened that tragic day little by little and age appropriate. Same for them knowing why we are off on Memorial Day day what 4th
    Of July really means. Scary how many kids have no idea. It saddens me to read how many parents are afraid to tell their kids about history. One more thing, the commentor Kate who said the USA is not the greatest Country... That made me sad. That's what is so very wrong with this great Country we are all blessed to live in... Good luck
    Amy in NYC

  24. Anonymous9/14/2011

    Not a thing. At age four, they are just not ready to process anything like that yet. Scarily, my friend's son, also age four, had it all explained to him at his preschool - by the teachers. Hello, inappropriate!


  25. I would advise thinking about what you want to say to your child about 9/11, before you get that opportunity to share your own thoughts on it taken away by schoolteachers, pastors or other outsiders.

    We live near NYC, and I was in the city when it happened. This time of year is always very difficult for me. My oldest (7) knows quite a bit about what happened: That bad men called terrorists forced airplanes to fly into the buildings, killing people in the buildings and on the planes.

    I'd rather be the person who tells her, than have her hear about it from someone else and believe that I hide truths from her.