When I was thirteen, I saw the made for TV movie The Day After. My parents clearly had no idea that the anxiety caused by this movie would stick with me FOR DECADES!!! The film was "provocative, apocalyptic, and gut-wrenching."
It says so right on the poster!
For months after watching it, I had terrible nightmares. Even during the day I imagined that a moment of static on the radio meant that a nuclear missile had entered North American airspace and was minutes from impact. I pictured my family and I scrounging for food under the rubble while tending to our radiation burns. I was a total mess.
My son is thirteen now and I'm wondering, what has HE seen or heard that is causing him to question his mortality and to worry about the health and safety of his family?
Being privy to heated and somewhat panicked discussions about the "surreal" era of Trump can't have done much to foster a carefree and hopeful outlook about the future of his planet.
I hadn't thought of the movie The Day After for years. Now suddenly I'm worrying about political stability and the possibility of nuclear war. I'm a nervous thirteen year old all over again.
Is my son worried too? Has the notion of a mentally unstable person at the helm of the most powerful country in the world kept him awake at all? I dare not bring it up for fear of implanting that sinister seed—for once it takes root and grows into a full fledged worry weed, it's impossible to prune that pricker back.
Our kids hear and see so much. Too much, in my opinion. They need to understand the world, but do they need to carry it on their tiny shoulders?
I'm wondering, do we give them too much credit and assume they can handle more than they actually can or should?
I'm asking in earnest.
Friends of mine tease me for my bubble-wrapping tenancies. We've never allowed our son to play with toys or video games that glorify guns or violence. But now that he's a teen, we've let things slide. He understands the difference between fiction and reality, so maybe it's okay for him to shoot aliens and watch the news? Other kids are doing it and they're fine.
But are they, are they really?
My parents had no idea that a made-for-television movie would affect me so deeply and negatively and for so long.
Can we as adults do a better job of protecting our kids from the evils of the world (real and imagined) until their brains and hearts are better able to cope?
The carefree innocence of childhood lasts for a blink of an eye. So shouldn't we shield our kids from the scary sh*t as long as we possibly can? And how do we do that in the age of instant clicky images and info?
I fear it's too late in my son's case. He's six feet tall and has an understanding of how the world works that is far more broad and sophisticated than me, decades his senior.
But I'm asking in general, do we as a society glaze over the TMI factor? And are we scaring and scarring our kids for life?
That 1980's nuclear war movie was for-reals scary, but I fear real life news ("fake news" and otherwise) today might be even scarier.