How Parents Addressed Osama bin Laden’s Death with Their Children

In a previous blog post, I asked this question: Did you talk to your children about Osama bin Laden’s death? If so, what did you say? If not, why not? I received several passionate responses to say the least. Below are a few of the comments that people shared:

… My son and I discussed it in detail and listened to many news stories about it to try and get the most accurate details. We also expressed exasperation when we learned that he was living in the outskirts of a city…But in answer to your question: yes, discuss with your kids assuming they are old enough to have an awareness/understanding of this type of thing. The world is cruel. We don’t live in bubbles. You can only shield your kids for so long before it is time to set them loose. Prepare them. – Carma

We live in DC and my 17 year-old remembers a lot about the state of the city on 9/11. We’ve definitely been talking about it. It’s politics, world events, etc. and totally appropriate discussions for a girl her age. My son is 12 and we’ve talked about it with him. If they were younger, I’d tailor the conversation to fit what’s appropriate in general for very young children and specifically for MY young children. – PBG

My youngest is only 6 years old and I haven’t told him anything about it at all. We don’t watch the news much when he’s awake because I just feel like the time will come when he will understand better…telling him about this along with the fact that I am a survivor of 9/11, would just cause him anxiety that I don’t think he is old enough to deal with appropriately. He’ll find out about the evils of this world soon enough. But not right now. – Kathryn Terry

I didn’t talk about it to my 4 year old. To the 10 year old, I explained that there are no good guy and bad guys and that in trying to stop terrorism, the United States has killed tens of thousands of civilians in Afghanistan and then Pakistan and that some of these were children like her. The 12 year old allowed to read my latest blog post. Both of them saw this photo of a one-year-old Afghan boy in the hospital with his father after a US air strike in Afghanistan killed 200 people in their village. [My daughter] said, “They must think that we are terrorists.” I told her that no matter what anyone tells you about good guys and bad guys, it’s never, ever that simple.” I told her that bin Laden was a bad man, but there many other bad men who hate the United States for our freedom… – Jozet

If my kids were a little older, I would have to [talk to them about it]. But at 5 and 3, they don’t need to know anything about all of that…Someday, we will have those conversations and we’ll be able to tell them what we were feeling at the time when all of the events happened. Someday. – Roman

If you don’t talk to them about it, someone else will, and they might not say what you feel is appropriate. When I picked my daughter up from elementary school on 9/11, she asked me if we were going to be blown up. If they ask, have an explanation tailored to the level of their understanding. They may not even care…. – Dan6907

Wife told our 5 year old girl that “a very bad man was killed today.” She asked why he was bad. “Because he wanted to hurt and kill a lot of people,” was the reply. Then she asked if she could have ice cream. Shouldn’t that be EVERYONE’S reaction? – Jason

Yes, I did [talk to my kids]. But unlike you, I don’t have young children anymore. Mine are 17 and 19. The teen was watching the news with us and saw it firsthand. We did discuss it and she had some insightful comments. The only thing that turned my stomach were the idiots who wanted to see pictures of a dead bin laden. I wouldn’t want anyone, let alone young children, seeing those. – Anonymous

First, I guess I am not understanding your urgency to talk to your pre-pubescent daughter about this, and why now? It sounds like had he not been murdered, the conversation, may not have even occurred! It bothers me that as Americans we are so desensitized want to desensitize their CHILDREN…I would only talk with her about it if she asked you questions about it, and I would keep the answers short and direct, and minus the gore. But to randomly strike up a conversation about it, IN MY OPINION, is completely UN-NECCESARRY – Netherland Washington

I think this is a conversation that can be had with the older child because this is part of life and will be a part of his/her future. The lesson here is no matter how good/bad/brutal, all history should be known/taught, because think about it, these are the people who will eventually be running our nation one day. As for the younger children, maybe not right now but there are ways to be tactful in explaining to them what happened without being very detailed until they are a little older. If you don’t know where you’ve been, how can you know where you’re going? – Shandra Carter

(Note: Comments have been edited for length and clarity. The read the full comments visit this blog post).

While riding in the car the other day, we heard a story about the controversy surrounding the proposed mosque near ground zero and my daughter asked me about 9/11. She was only one when the attack occurred and my other children were not yet born. I told her that September 11, 2001 was a tragic day in our country. I explained that some bad men, called terrorists, hijacked airplanes and used them as weapons to destroy buildings and kill people. My 7-year-old son was in the car also so I was mindful to keep the conversation at a level that he would understand. We never got into a discussion about Osama bin Laden’s death. If they want to know more, I will address their questions as they arise.

Stay Strong,

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Frederick J. Goodall

Frederick J. Goodall is the founder of Mocha Dad - a parenting website focused on fatherhood. He is passionate about parenting and helping men to be great dads, husbands, and role models. You can contact him at fjgoodall@mochadad.com or on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/mochadad

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