War sparks interest of youngsters

Published 12:00 am Friday, March 21, 2003

"Where is Iraq? Is this real? Are we going to blow up the bad men? Is mommy or daddy going to come home?"

Children often ask questions like these as our country goes to war, and families are left searching for suitable answers for innocent ears.

Ironton resident Susan Sanders was faced with this problem recently when the oldest of her two sons, Andrew, 9, asked her about the war.

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"He saw it on TV and looked at me and said, 'This is serious isn't it?'," she said. "His friend Scott (19) is in the Navy, overseas somewhere.

"I told him that it is serious, but it is far away and we may be safe over here," she said. "People may get hurt, but they have to do it for our freedom."

Andrew said he thinks the war is pretty bad, but is still not scared for his friend Scott.

"I know he will be OK," Andrew said. "We are praying for him though."

Despite the saturation of war coverage on television, Thursday was just an ordinary day at school, Andrew said.

"We have not really talked about it much at school," he said. "But I have seen maps and stuff on TV."

Sanders said her youngest son, Aaron, 7, also sees war coverage on television, but probably does not understand the reality of it.

"When they ask questions, I try to answer them, but not bombard them with information," she said. "After being a mom for 9 years, I am kind of prepared for these types of questions."

Medical professional agree that it is important to talk to children about the events, but not go into too much detail.

"It is important to explain to children about what is going on," Dr. Joju Variath, psychologist at Shawnee Mental Health Center. "Most kids know about the history, but they may need to talk about how it will affect them."

Every case is different, and it is up to the parents to determine the maturity and understanding level of their children to know how much to explain to their kids, he said.

Until children are 8 or 9, they have no real concept of understanding of death and can be a tricky subject that parents must explain when they feel each child is ready, he said.

"Kids are curious, so we must explain it to them," he said. "It is better to explain it to them now so they can cope better later in life."