What kind of information should young children be protected from?
January 14, 2013 11:10 AM Subscribe
The coyotes are eating the cats!
posted by Dansaman to education (18 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
I'm wondering how parents should go about judging what information their children should be protected from.
Clearly there are many types of information that children should obviously be protected from, but there seem to be some grey areas as well, and it is those types of information that my question addresses.
This question came to mind because of a recent situation. Coyotes have been preying on cats in our neighborhood for some time, and recently when I spoke of this aloud at the park in front of my 4-1/2 year-old daughter and two other kids who are about 6 and 8, their father started whispering about it to signal to me that this isn't something he wanted them to know about. I'm usually pretty mindful about what I say to whom, so I felt bad that I had done something careless, but I also realized that my approach to handling this information with my daughter was very different from the approach of the father of the two older children.
As far as I can tell, the fact that coyotes are preying on cats doesn't disturb my daughter at all. We don't have cats and the other kids do, so that could be one reason their father is more protective about the information. But I think it's also possible I am intentionally more open about such information so that my daughter can grow and mature without being overly sheltered.
I know that there's room for personal preference, cultural differences, etc. in parents determining how open to be about information that might be in some way disturbing or troubling to a child, and certainly I always err on the side of caution (including not saying something, or presenting it in a gentler way, such as saying "preying on cats" instead of "eating cats"), and the capacity of the child himself/herself to handle such information is of course a big factor as well, but I wonder if there is anything I am missing in thinking about this topic. For example, is it possible that coyotes preying on cats is disturbing to my daughter without me realizing it? She has shown no signs of it troubling her, and in fact she's very aware of the concept of food chains and who is predator and who is prey.
I think the obvious answer to my question is each parent needs to make their own subjective determination, but I'm wondering if there is anything more than that guideline that parents would be advised to know about. What also would be helpful is some specific examples of such information that other parents have had to decide whether to share with their children and how they made their decision about whether to share it. I don't think I've faced this type of issue often because most information has been clearly black or white in terms of whether my daughter should know about it, but I can see the possibility of other information in the future falling into a grey area, thus my interest in input from other parents on this topic.