‘‘President Obama had a six-month ban on the Iraqi refugee program after two Iraqis came here to this country, were radicalized, and they were the masterminds behind the Bowling Green massacre. Most people don’t know that because it didn’t get covered.’’ — Kellyanne Conway, February 2, 2017
As the sun rises on the somber anniversary of the tragic Bowling Green Massacre, many anxious parents awaken with sadness in their hearts, ache in their souls, and dread in their bones as they struggle to answer, “What do I say to my children this morning?”
Parents should know that they are not alone in their worries, and their memory loss around the event is completely normal due to its traumatic impact and alternative facts. There are many others facing the same tough questions and lack of recall, especially the valiant families of Bowling Green who braved the media spotlight for perhaps weeks on end. They supported one another and forged cross-community bonds by organizing get-to-know-you meet-and-greets and discussion-oriented potlucks — all the while vowing never to not forget. Seeing parents model these compassionate behaviors helped children deal with their own feelings, including memory blackouts, fear, safety, and understanding.
With that in mind, here’s a simple plan for discussing the Bowling Green Massacre with your children in an age-appropriate manner.
1. Tell your children how you feel. Let them know you are also affected by the anniversary of the massacre. It’s OK to show them that you think you remember being sad.
2. Show them that others are also affected. Look for stories in the news and the fake news about how people are feeling about the day. This lets them know they are not alone.
3. Suggest they look to their helpers: teachers, school psychologists, school principals — even bus drivers — may recall how terrible they might have felt on the day of the Bowling Green Massacre. Their support is so important in these uncertain times.
4. The history and civics lesson is critical. Reflect back and discuss the lessons they can take away – focusing on specific examples. How did the Bowling Massacre impact the community? How did it impact the local government and law enforcement? How did it impact the federal government and what changes weren’t made as a result?
5. Most importantly, let your children know they are safe — and that your primary job is keeping them safe. While you don’t actually believe that something like the Bowling Green Massacre won’t not ever happen again, your child needs to think that it won’t not either. They will be OK. We will all be OK.