Growing up is tough. Raising children who are growing up is really tough. My babies are 10 and 11, still babies of course, but they are bright kids who are eager to learn. Our home schooling lessons have been centered around a lot of history lately. American history, westward expansion, the civil war, slavery. Not a proud time in our nations history, but it is a time in our history that we are talking about.
We have kept these little people we are raising pretty sheltered from the realities of our sometimes pretty cruel world. Until they were around 7 and 8 there was really no screen time in their lives. No news, TV, movies, video games. We did lots of reading together as a family, games keeping them at arms length and enjoying just letting them be children. As they have gotten older we now watch a family movie, sometimes classics, sometimes movies based on books we've read. Corey at 10 has now seen The Lord of the Rings movies! Honestly they scare the crap out of him, but he's read the books so many times he has the things memorized and really wanted to experience the movies. For him and his fantasy led mind knowing what happens makes it OK (especially when dad is right beside you). But I'm getting sidetracked here...
Back to history, we recently watched a Ken Burns documentary called The West from PBS. Wow, excellent, but very intense. There were a lot of questions from kids and there was a lot of anger and confusion. I think until this point the only view of "cowboys and Indians" was very fictionalized. Pilgrims and Indians sharing large meals, Sacajawea guiding Lewis and Clark happily along the Missouri and the such. Ken Burns showed a much more realistic and upsetting scene of death and brutality, mostly by "white men" toward native Americans. Harsh. I don't recommend this very well done documentary for the "light afternoon viewing". I do think this is important information for the children to learn, but it was hard to see them so shocked and dismayed by it.
Now we are reading A Narrative of the Life of Fredrick Douglas This book is available free on line and for your kindle. Again a very real look at our history, this time slavery. While the children have known it existed this view is much more real and disturbing. "How could people think they are better than others?" "How could they just take children away from their mamas?" These are the type of questions I am hearing on a daily basis. Chapter 4 was quite bloody.
But when is the right time to learn these things? I find that I doubt myself as a parent when I see the children sad or angry by what they are learning. But raising them to be good, honest and caring people is what I'm trying to do.
We still filter world news from them a great deal (my boy wouldn't leave the house) but are slowly letting some truths in. I dread this part of raising them, seeing their world change and become harder is not something I enjoy.
Does anyone else with older kids struggle with this? How do folks deal with some of these harsh realities? When are kids ready to hear of such things?