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Our Kids Are More Precious Than Ever At The End Of This Week

BEN STANSALL via Getty Images

This has been a very long, sad week. It’s hard to believe that it was only a few days since we woke to the horrific news that a group of children and families attending a pop concert had been killed by a suicide bomber. For families who lost loved ones, and those injured, life will never be the same again.

Terrorism is by its nature horrific and cowardly and has, in recent years, sought to extend the definition of barbarism but this attack set a new low.

As we now know, the bomber struck as many youngsters and their parents were leaving an Ariana Grande concert, a pop star well known to have a predominantly teenage fanbase, a fact that could not have been overlooked by whoever planned such an atrocity. It was specifically targeted to kill and maim the most vulnerable group in our society – children and young people. These are the very people whose only reasonable expectation of such a night is that it should be a wonderful memory in their young lives.

The shock waves of such an act travel far. Apart from the immediate victims and their families, who all our hearts go out to, many of us not there simply struggle to take in all the implications of such a tragedy.

If it’s hard for adults, think what it’s like for children.

We, as adults, have had to find the courage to try and help them understand, to give them the reassurance and love they need to deal with such terrible news.

“Did all the kid’s get out?” My friend’s 8-year-old daughter asked her father.

“What are you supposed to say?” he said sadly. “The awful truth is, no, they didn’t”

But whilst our first instinct may be to try to shield our children from the enormity of such tragic events, for most families, being able to talk about it will help children who are feeling anxious or sad. Besides, “shielding” rarely works. Once children are at school they are likely to hear others talking about the events, they will catch reports on the news or worse they hear rumours – some of which may be scary or untrue and worry them even more.

Hats off to the BBC’s Newsround who put out fantastic advice to kids within hours reassuring children who were upset that they weren’t alone

‘It’s important to know that you are not the only one and It’s OK to have those feelings.’

Of course some children will take time to process what they’ve seen and heard before they can even form it into questions so just being there, being together, is as much as some parents have been able to do so far.

But when the questions come the advice is to be open and honest. Stick to the facts, don’t over complicate it and confuse them. Do more listening than talking. And keep things calm – keep calm yourself and keep routines the same.

Above all, the job of parents this week has been to reassure their children that they are safe. Terrible though these events are, they are rare, we should remind them of the positives in life and that by and large life is good.

Our busy schedules can often make our days and weeks whizz by in a blur of school runs, work emails and hurried meal preparations, but as we have put our children to bed this week there won’t have been a parent in the land who hasn’t hugged their child a little tighter and given thanks that they are still with them. Our kids are more precious than ever at the end of this week.

As we look to the future and contemplate how we can best help children with the uncertain future ahead of them, we should remember the immense acts of strength and kindness we have seen from people who have stepped forward to help.

The best way we can help children face terrorism is to help them to grow up resilient, confident, caring and full of life – just what those that have inflicted such wounds on our community this week don’t want.