Conversations I Don’t Want to Have With My Kids

It wasn’t the first break-in that has ever happened.
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It won’t be the last.

But this one has struck a nerve.

On Friday, June 21st, a man broke into a suburban Millburn, New Jersey home, while a mom sat on the couch with her 3yo daughter, quietly watching Olivia as her toddler napped upstairs.

Instead of just running back out when he saw them, or threatening the woman and child to stay where they were as he robbed the house, he beat her. Over and over again, in front of her horrified little girl. Punched her, kicked her, threw her down the stairs, then left.

The nanny cam caught it all.

The woman, who was composed throughout the crime in order to keep her daughter calm, shared that video with the police, the local press, the world.

She wanted that man found so he couldn’t hurt anyone else, couldn’t scare anyone else.

A combination of her bravery, his violence, and the sight of that little girl frozen on the couch cannot be ignored.

I faced a lot of hard things in my childhood, in my life. I have been, in careful, thoughtful ways, letting my kids know that not everyone in the world is kind and good.

Yes, the kind and good absolutely outnumber the troubled, the desperate, the bad, but that doesn’t mean we can count on never facing it.

This week I started a series of Very Important Conversations with my kids.

Sure, we have gone over our address, telephone numbers, 911, what to do if a stranger approaches them in public.

But what if that stranger comes into our home?

I do not want to say the words, “If a stranger breaks in and starts to hurt mommy…” to my kids. Yet I have to.

I do not want to say the words, “If I’m in my office and a stranger breaks in the door where you are playing…” to my kids. Yet I need to.

I do not want to say the words, “Now you practice on me. I’ll pretend I’m the stranger grabbing you after he broke in…” to my kids. Yet I must.

My job as their mother is to fill their lives with love, peace, and comfort, while preparing them for a world that can hate, confuse, and hurt.

During the day I will calmly give these lessons to my kids to prepare them for the unknown.

At night I will let the tears fall onto my pillows because I can’t always stand between them and what I’m preparing them for.

In the times in between I will continue living with the hope that they will be mostly safe in the world — and at home. I will have faith that when they are hurt, they will know that the hurt was only a temporary, fleeting moment in a long, beautiful life.

How old are your kids, and are you having these conversations with them yet?

Did the Millburn attack affect you in any way?

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