So I went to pick up my 6 year old son from school today....

When I got into the gym, all of the kids were sitting in a circle as their "group time." My son usually is glad to see me and runs towards me regardless of the topic or what he is doing when I come to pick him up. Today he didn't. All of the kids had their hands raised and were eager to ask questions.

I sat down and listened to the discussion. The YMCA instructor called on my son, and the questions he asked was, "Did they try to control the plane so it wouldn't crash?".....................................................

Oh.

Yep. They were discussing 9/11. I had thought about it being 9/11 today, but I hadn't planned to talk to my 6 year old about it.

Too late.

When they were done my son had a lot of questions. I answered them to the best of my ability. They were profound questions. So I was very open with him and we discussed it at length.

It's very coincidental. Just last night I had the first conversation with my son about drugs. That was spurred on because we see our neighbors do drugs. When we got home our neighbor was high on meth, sitting on our steps blocking the way up to our apartment. I decided to use the opportunity to tell my son about drugs, and to tell him to not engage with this neighbor.

It was WAY easier to talk to my 6 year old about drugs than to explain the complexities of 9/11.

I think the hardest question to answer was, "Why did they do it?" and "What is a terrorist?" When I tried to explain they were acting based on a religion - "What's a religion?"....When I explained they believed in the Koran, "What's the Koran?".....Every question led to a million questions. I was happy to answer to the best of my ability, but the fact is it's just too much to explain to a 6 year old in a single conversation. It's not something I WANTED to talk about with him today.

Part of me is a little upset that the YMCA instructor had this conversation with the kids. I suppose my frustration is the fact that my son is ONLY 6! But there were kids all the way up to the 6th grade in the before/after school program. It was undoubtedly spurred on my perhaps the questions of the older kids. But I sort of wish he had said, "You need to talk to your parents about it."

Now my son has a TON of questions about this topic.

I'm wondering if you all have any advice on how to explain the Koran, terrorism, 9/11, and suicide bombers to a 6 year old. He already knows what he heard from the other kids....

Any insight would be helpful.

It's sort of funny. Last school year there was a school shooting near us. I was afraid that THAT would be hard to explain. It turned out no one at school talked about it, so I didn't have to address it. But I didn't think I would have to explain to my 6 year old about terrorism, religion, and death all in the same day.

Should I be angry about the YMCA instructor talking to the kids about this? I am. A little. But maybe it's just a lesson to get to have these talks about religion with my son now.

Now I feel like I NEED to start talking with him about religion. But I don't know how! He's 6!!

Any advice is welcome. Thanks.

Views: 260

Comment by Simon Paynton on September 12, 2015 at 6:39am

I actually believe it was political rather than religious.  Al Qa'eeda wanted to ruin the United States by drawing it into a disastrous war in Iraq and Afghanistan, and then to provoke the Islamic militants, which AQ succeed in doing.  The US was stupid enough to fall for it. 

However, nobody likes getting bullied, so perhaps the US didn't have a choice.  Either way, the US is the loser. 

Comment by Simon Paynton on September 12, 2015 at 6:42am

We have to remember the political dimension to Islam's resentment of the West.  We've been f***ing them up the ass for the entire 20th century.  Plus, Islam has been in decline, tearing itself apart, since the 16th century I believe it is, and they feel humiliated to be so weak when they were once so strong. 

Comment by Reg The Fronkey Farmer on September 12, 2015 at 8:47am

What is the instructor’s role? I suspect it is not to ask six year olds such questions. Whether or not children should be pondering these question is one thing but I do not think it is up to him to make that decision for you, especially if he is “just” a gym instructor. I would demand to see his teaching qualifications and the remit of his job role within the YMCA. To me it sounds like he has no proper qualifications in child education. Is he anti-Islamic or is he trying to smuggle some version of Christianity into the topic? I would sit the instructor down and ask him “Do you think it was a dumbass question to ask a six year old”? Demand a straight answer. That will tell you his motivation. Then take it from there.

Comment by Belle Rose on September 12, 2015 at 8:57am
All the Kids were sitting in a circle and he was talking about 9/11, and he didn't bring religion into it. Another KID said, "They thought they would get a reward in heaven," and the instructor validated that.

When I got home, I then had to try to explain to my son "what heaven is." I started to say, "The bad guys believe in a religion that taught that killing us would be a good thing.
Comment by Reg The Fronkey Farmer on September 12, 2015 at 9:40am

Quote Jon Stewart when asked what religion is (or maybe not!);

“Religion. It’s given people hope in a world torn apart by religion”.

John Lennon said "Imagine there's no Heaven". I think he should have written "Imagine there is a Heaven". That makes more sense.

Comment by Simon Paynton on September 12, 2015 at 10:40am

I do think it's appropriate to have a friendly word with the guy, and say that you're not happy and have concerns that he was talking about this topic with your 6 year-old. 

Comment by Simon Paynton on September 12, 2015 at 12:11pm

I haven't read through it, but there's this article: 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Motives_for_the_September_11_attacks

Comment by Becca on September 12, 2015 at 5:18pm

Welcome to having a child out in the world - you are going to have a lot of conversations that you aren't ready for. I think it would be appropriate to ask the teacher what motivated the conversation but getting all pissed and complaining about the teacher talking about that particular subject isn't going to help anyone. Teachers should be able to talk about difficult topics with their students, yes even young students, yes even teachers at the YMCA, yes even "just" gym teachers. Also, all teachers have a duty and responsibility to listen to and respond to children's comments, questions, and concerns in the they way they think is best given the situation.

As a teacher myself I've been in many situations in which tough topics were necessary to discuss with my young students. Try trying to explain racism to a group of 5 year olds - that's a doozy. But when several of your students are experiencing racism and talking about it in the classroom with other students it became a necessary topic to address. I suspect that is the case with this teacher - that they were hearing students talking about 9-11 and felt that having a discussion as a group with a teacher monitoring would be better than letting them talk among themselves and say god knows what or scaring other children. Fortunately, in my case I had many parents thank me for my willingness to talk openly about this and other difficult subjects instead of the usual "they're too young." If they can understand enough to ask the questions then they are ready for honest discussion which is what is seems that both the teacher and you did - plus part of honesty is being able to say I don't know. I say that all the time to my students.

Comment by Pope Beanie on September 12, 2015 at 6:21pm

If Becca's right, perhaps the instructor should be willing to answer a few of your questions, too. This is a tough question that I need more time to process!

Comment by Belle Rose on September 13, 2015 at 12:13am

I think it would be appropriate to ask the teacher what motivated the conversation but getting all pissed and complaining about the teacher talking about that particular subject isn't going to help anyone.

I wasn't planning on getting all pissed and complaining. I wasn't even really planning on addressing him about it. I have known this teacher for the last year, and he has been instrumental in my son's life. He is a positive male role model for him to offset the balance he doesn't get at home. I appreciate him more than I can put into words. I didn't intend this discussion to be focused on the teacher. I suppose I was venting my frustration about it, but the focus isn't on HIM. It's on the fact that now that my son knows these things and is asking me a lot of questions. I want to know the best way to explain things like:

1. Religion

2. Terrorism

3. Death

4. the Koran

5. 9/11 in general

The focus for me NOW is how do I explain these things well to him that's age appropriate?

I know this teacher well enough to know he was just answering questions, and probably started the conversation in an innocent way, and the questions of the kids spurrd the conversation. Remember there were lots of older kids in the group, ages ranging from K-6.

I'm not one for sheltering my son or coddling him. But what I DON'T know is how to explain 9/11 to him. I feel like my feeble attempts so far haven't been the best. I want to do better.

I've already talked to him about drugs and puberty in a way that I believe is age appropriate. But talking about 9/11 is SO much more difficult!. For example this morning he asked me again, "Tell me about the plane crash."

There's also the reality that many of his friends are religious. I think it's time I start talking to him about religion in general. But HOW?

Also, all teachers have a duty and responsibility to listen to and respond to children's comments, questions, and concerns in the they way they think is best given the situation.

I agree. But I think something as complex as 9/11 should be explained in an age appropriate manner. It's hard to do that when you have a group that spans from 5 - 11 or 12.

Comment

You need to be a member of Think Atheist to add comments!

Join Think Atheist

© 2019   Created by Rebel.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service