The day after 9 /11 my morning ritual changed forever. Since that horrible morning, immediately upon waking up, I turn on the Today Show. I need to know that the world has not exploded before I start my day. Before I leave my room and go down to get breakfast and school lunches made or do anything else, I see what is going on in the world. Maybe it is my "Mama Bear" instinct kicking in, making sure there are no hunters on the prowl in my neighborhood. Maybe Matt Lauer is comforting in some weird way. Maybe it is something else. I don't know, but since 2001, the Today Show is always on in my room in the morning.
My two sons were tiny when America was under attack. The eldest was only three and my little one a little over a year old but since that time, when they have come in my room to snuggle or just hang out in Mom and Dad's big comfy bed, they have been exposed to the morning news. Sure I've turned it off at times, but they have grown used to the ritual and have grown up getting at least a glimpse of what is going on in the world. Over the years, they sometimes asked questions. After school shootings or tragedies like the Boston Marathon Bombing, we have frank discussions. I want to make sure that they know that, while bad things happen in the world, they can't live their lives in fear.
I make sure that when any stories involving drug use, bullying, texting while driving and other issues that apply directly to teenagers, that the volume is turned way up. In fact, the mantra "anything you place on the internet never, ever goes away, so don't put anything stupid online" is repeated in this house quite often. (by me).
Sure, I've read and heard the studies and recommendations that kids should not watch television. I'm certain that some of you readers may judge me and think that I should have shielded my children from the horrors that the morning news headlines often describe. However, my 15 year old son is starting to realize that many of his classmates have absolutely no knowledge about the world other than Sports or Entertainment. He is in all gifted, honors and Advanced Placement classes in a very good, large public high school so his peers have high IQ's, come from economically advantaged homes and get very good grades. They are the cream of the crop so it absolutely amazes me when he tells me some of the stories from his day.
One of the teachers asked what the UN stands for and half the class had no idea. Another day, she asked who the Vice-President of the United States is and barely anyone knew. One of his friends who is usually a straight A student had no idea what the electoral college is, who our state Governor was and could not locate Mexico on a map.
My son feels that he has knowledge of current events due to the Today Show always being on in my room and I agree. He now reads the news on his phone or computer on a daily basis (He has to leave for school before the Today Show starts!). He is on the way to becoming a good World citizen and sounds pretty intelligent when discussing current events these days.
The point of this post was not to brag about how amazing my kids are (They are but I'm no bragger). My point is that sheltering your kids too much, may be just as harmful as not sheltering them enough. I guess what I'm trying to say is, don't always listen to the child rearing "experts".