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Raising Children in a Violent World

20/06/2016 12:01 | Updated 20 June 2016

I live in a house that I fill with love and I teach my daughters about compassion and kindness. I have hopes for my girls, hopes that when they are older they will be happy and safe. Living on Jersey means that you can feel like you are wrapped up and protected from the real goings on in the world - the violence, the hatred and the guns. However, whether I like it not the real world is hammering persistently at our door and I wonder for how much longer I can keep it at bay.

Last week, my girls were sat down at our kitchen table, Oldest was drawing people waving under a rainbow and I was helping Youngest draw a field full of flowers in every imaginable colour. Oldest was adding a happy face to her stick-person when the radio brought the sad news of the Stanford rape case. Two minutes previously we had been tapping our pencils to happy tunes and now the radio was spilling words of violence, words that jolted me from the innocence of doodling and forced me to switch the radio off, locking the world and all its dangers outside. I was suddenly aware of the black cloud that was now in our kitchen and hanging above us. Oldest had looked at me curiously, a question forming on her lips before she had thought better of it and had returned to her picture. Then on Sunday the news of the Orlando shootings started to filter into our house. News that caused me to reach for my girls and to hold them tight. Meanwhile, above me the black cloud silently grew. I fear for my girls and the world that they are growing up in. I fear that the hatred from the real world will eventually seep into their pores and steal their innocence.

Just before Easter I found myself trying to explain to a curious Oldest what had happened in Paris, I'm running out of words. Words that protect. I don't want her to know what the real world is like, how when I tell her we need to treat others with kindness that this isn't always how the real world works.

I don't want her to know how I have lied.

How outside those playground gates is a world full of hate. How the bullies on the outside use guns, bombs and rape. How outside of school there are people who don't believe in equality and freedom. How in the real world they are people who love to hate.

According to Childline research has shown that the children of today are "deeply unhappy" and that they have to deal with issues and problems that did not exist 30 years ago. I can believe this. 30 years ago we didn't have social media or 24 hour news, so what do I do? Do I silence the radio, cover the TV screen and switch off the internet? Do I smother the news? Do I carry on as I am? Terrorism is a very real part of the world that we live in. However, do my children need to know about it? Terrorist attacks are not on our street or even on our island but they are in our world. They don't happen everyday but then they shouldn't happen at all. What should I do as a responsible parent?

I have to continue to protect but I also need to be prepared to answer those difficult questions. As parents we can't be scared and we have to forget about the dark clouds on our horizon. We need to ensure that we are bringing up our children to feel safe. We need to continue to find joy in the everyday. We need to carry on telling our children to chase their dreams. We have to dream and we have to dream big. We have to believe that we can change this world that we live in, that we can battle this hate. Without dreams there can be no hope.


There is always hope

and hope always wins, eventually.

"Hope will never be silent"

Harvey Milk

This article first appeared on Island Living 365

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