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How much info should a pre-teen have related to current events? What's considered age-appropriate?

I let out a very audible gasp when I got a news alert on my phone yesterday about Alabama's new abortion laws. My daughter (age 11) inquired about what I was reacting to. I hesitated for a moment trying to figure out how to break down abortion, rape, and incest in some kind of age-appropriate way, or if it could even be done at all. 

I'm not looking for parenting advice because I know what was appropriate for my child, but I'm curious to know how you folks would handle a similar situation. Do you/ did you/ would you break down all news in some age-appropriate way or do/ did/ would you filter it out and hold off on discussing certain current events until the child is older? 

Posted - May 15, 2019


  • 12815
    Disclaimer:  I am not a parent.

    I don't think there is a black and white rule on this.  It would depend on the news itself, the maturity of the child and what the parent thinks the child should know.  As a general rule, I don't think parents should lie to their kids, but I also realize that some subjects are too mature for some.
      May 15, 2019 9:54 AM MDT

  • 46240
    I am thinking.  IF your child walks out of the house without you in public, anywhere, you are going to have to shield her from words that mean reality.

    I don't have an eleven year old.  I would keep it simple and just not get all heavy with an answer.  She has 12, 13 and beyond to explore meanings of adult issues.  You don't have to be exact and age appropriate.  Just tell her.  We have issues all over the United States about health and some people want to stop women from making choices about the health of their futures and their bodies.  That is why we are careful about who we decide to date and have a future with, because to be responsible, means to make the right decisions about when to have a baby.

    Why do you need to explain all these complicated facts to her?  I think I knew what rape was at eleven.  Barely.  I don't see the reason to make her aware of rape and incest and all those things that can cause pregnancy.  But if she asks, it is time to tell.  

    How do you keep the world away from someone who is in it daily?  It is impossible.  You can only be the excellent role model you are, and hopefully, that will cause her to want to emulate you.  
      May 15, 2019 10:00 AM MDT

  • 7712
    I think it's a lot harder to shield kids from anything these days, thanks to the net. If you don't talk to your kids, they or their friends will read about it and will wind up with misconceptions about what something is or what it means. 

    I think, at least in my case, part of the shock over the law was that it wasn't just banning abortion. It banned it in cases of rape and incest too. Obviously, someone who is wholly pro-life may see no distinction there, but that's where most of my shock and awe came from.

    Like you, I think most people know what rape is by that age. I did. I know that has been a topic in my home already. And, we've also talked about other forms of sexual assault and abuse, particularly as it pertains to their safety. i.e. "If someone touches you inappropriately, you need to tell someone, no matter who the person who touched you is." Ergo, at this stage, she already had the foundations and understood that these things happen, but perhaps not in a broader sense like "these things can result in pregnancy." 
      May 15, 2019 11:30 AM MDT

  • 46240
    How long before the law changes?  I mean if it has devolved this badly, how long before we stone the rape victim?  That is about how sane this idea is.  
      May 15, 2019 1:15 PM MDT

  • 6758
    I would have started out very generally and said that I was totally surprised that Alabama had passed a new law. What law, if she asks---"A law facilitating the birth of the baby a pregnant woman is carrying."   

    When a parent says something "matter of factly," a child is usually ready to give you the benefit of the doubt as to whether they should be satisfied by your answer, even if they don't fully understand you, based on the fact that you have always told them the truth.  (Don't worry about the Santa Claus myth you supported.)

    If she wants to know more, you can tell her you will discuss it further with her shortly.  At least you have bought yourself some time to organize what you want to say. 
      May 15, 2019 10:10 AM MDT

  • 7712
    Pfft. My kids still believe in Santa. 

    Good points though. Thanks. 
      May 15, 2019 11:31 AM MDT

  • Like Lynn I'm not a parent,  but I have quite a bit of  experience being around kids for what it is worth.

    I try not tinker kids really have to worry about those kinds of things. When it comes up and they ask a question or over hear a conversation I just kinda tell them "  Oh it is something I disagree with just happened"  or    something to that effect.  If they pry deeper then I give deeper answers and context but I try not to unload more than their curiosity is asking for.  If that phrasing makes sense. I just don't want them to have to worry or feel they should worry about more than they have too or can even relate to yet.

    As for that situation,  I probably wouldn't  really get specific explaining the rape and incest details.  I would most likely explain it is "  I feel the new guidelines unfairly target abused victims"..  Something to that effect.  Though like Lynn again I don't think there are necessarily right or wrong answers here or any place for judgements on how another handles it.  Though the kids around me at that age I don't know if In would want to burden them with the ugly thoughts of incest an rape.

    It's a delicate balance you kinda got to make on the spot calls on.  I personally don't want to sugar coat the world or hide truths and realities from curious kids, but I also want try and meter out in his much weight of the world I dump on them at once.  Usually , just don't give more details than they are asking for and you are good.
      May 15, 2019 10:13 AM MDT

  • 20589
    Depends on the topic. 

    If the child is old enough to know what sex is then I would also think they could understand rape and incest.

    I do not remember explaining what abortion is. I do remember it coming up and they already knew the science... it is a baby. I also made sure they knew which party supports which laws. 
      May 15, 2019 10:22 AM MDT

  • 4292
    Those topics haven't come up for me, yet ... and I don't have children ... but my personal rule of thumb is to always answer questions asked of me as honestly as possible.

    Since I don't have children - I always look to the parents of kids that ask me questions.
    If the parent lets the question stand, I answer it to the best of my ability.
    If the parent has a problem with that - they shouldn't let their kid ask me questions.  Or they should answer it themselves.
      May 15, 2019 11:10 AM MDT

  • When I was a pre-teen I didn't give a flying crap about current events. 
      May 15, 2019 12:00 PM MDT

  • 22400
    it probably depends on the child
      May 19, 2019 3:34 PM MDT