laden

How are you talking to your kids about bin Laden's death?

May 2, 2011 at 9:46 AM ET

So, how are you telling your kids about it?

"It," of course, being the death of Osama bin Laden. How do you explain the news? The question leads to another -- how have you told them about the 9-11 attacks? What do they know about terrorism, and the war on terror? Basically, how do you explain the existence of evil in the world? Wow. Hope everyone's had their coffee this morning.

Your answers, of course, depend on the age of your kids and their personalities. If they're teens, maybe they're the ones who told you the news, having learned about it first from social media. For younger kids who have grown up in the shadow of 9-11, some will have a million questions, some will be more interested in what's for lunch. And some will have questions that we can't quite answer.

Jenny Lind Schmitt, mother of four, writes:

"It's good news," I told them this morning, "somber good news." Then we turned on the television to see if it was really true. We saw Obama's statement repeated about five times and saw the flag waving crowds jumping around victoriously at the White House in the middle of their night. "They don't seem very somber," remarked Apollo. Hmmm, no they didn't!

Blogger Jack B., like many parents, was caught off-guard by the news and the issues it raised:

Tonight my children learned about Osama Bin Laden. Tonight my children learned about 9/11 and the murder of thousands. Tonight they watched the news of Bin Laden’s death alongside me and I cursed him for it. I cursed Bin Laden for the murder of innocents and innocence. I cursed him for forcing my hand and having to take a piece of their childhood away from them.

Because tonight I confirmed that while there are no monsters under their beds or in the closets there are monsters who walk amongst us. My soon to be 10.5 year-old asked me if we murdered a murderer and whether we have to go kill his kids. My almost seven year-old asked why he was so mean and then told me that she wasn’t afraid because daddy will kill bad people. Her older brother nodded his head and smiled at me as he confirmed that she was correct.

Michelle Wolfson, who was pregnant with her first child on Sept. 11, 2011 and now has three children, is still trying to figure out what she'll say:

There are epic moments in parenthood that have nothing to do with our kids. They don't have anything to do with watching our kids take their first steps, or seeing our children off on their first day of school. They are moments where we as parents realize that our job is to hold and protect our children, to shield them from the bad, while simultaneously helping them grow and learn and become strong, mature, independent people. It's a fine line.

I wonder if they will find out. I wonder if I should tell them. I wonder if their friends will mention it to them. I wonder if it will be talked about at school. I wonder if they even care, or if they should.

Back to Jenny Lind Schmitt, who reminds us that kids have their own unique perspective on world news, justice and moral ambiguity:

My youngest son arrived downstairs in the kitchen. His sleepy eyes grew large and questioning. "Why is there a big flag?" At five, he is not yet so up on geo-political events. How to explain this, I thought.

"Well....a really bad guy who killed a whole lot of people finally got captured and killed."

"Oh," he said slowly. "So the really bad guy is dead?"

"Yes," I said with finality.

"Good. Can I have some oatmeal?"

Check back with TODAY Moms later today, when we hope to have some expert perspective on how to have this conversation with kids. In the meantime, share your thoughts in the comments: How are you talking about Osama bin Laden's death with your children?

TOP