I never know what my kids really hear when I tell them things that I think are important.
Recently, "Dateline" has had a series on called "My Kid Would Never Do That". I saw a brief description of one on "The Today Show" and I set the DVR to record the series.
So far, there have been three of these, and we've seen two. My husband and I are now dealing with LOTS of questions.
The first one was about stranger danger and this is the one that caught my eye. They showed controlled experiments with hidden cameras. The parents were watching the whole time. The producers lured kids with an ice cream truck and the driver offering a tour of the truck and free ice cream. It was absolutely terrifying how many kids got in the truck and took ice cream.
I thought it was important for all of us to watch this together, so that as situations occur in our lives, we would have these examples to reference and my kids will have a clear picture of what we're talking about.
I will admit , I kind of wanted to scare them. I want them to know that it's completely okay to walk away from a stranger, to not worry about hurting their feelings, that's for me and their dad to sort out.
What I didn't expect was for my daughter to be traumatized. Some of the series is a little old for her, in my opinion, but then "they" (man, would I love to meet "they" someday) say, "It's never too early" to talk to your kids about these things.
My son is sensible, but I also think he can be innocent and naive. He's a helpful kid and doesn't want to be rude, so I do worry that he'd be the kid helping to look for a "lost puppy" or walking up to a car to give directions. I think the show was a real eye opener for him and helped to give him tools to be safe and smart.
My daughter however, cried , every time a kid got in the ice cream truck, or gave their name and address to an actor pretending to be a photographer with a casting agency, she was devastated. I kept reminding her that these kids were safe, but she's a smarty, she knows that these kids wouldn't have been safe in real life and she was so worried for them.
The last one we watched was on whether teens would get into a car with someone who may be under the influence. Sadly, most kids did. Again, safe, controlled experiments, and absolutely heartbreaking for their parents (and me) to watch. This seemed like a great way to start some dialogue with my son about drinking and driving, texting and driving, and making good decisions about who get in a car with.
It seemed like every parent on there said, "We've talked about this, he/she knows they're not allowed to use their phone when they drive." Sadly, most kids did.
Again, I thought this may be a little old for my daughter to grasp, but she really wanted to be included in this. (She HATES being left out of anything if the reason is that she's too little..a whole other blog entry entirely) Once again, hysterical crying. The thought of someone being a passenger in a car where someone else who was impaired was driving terrified her. She kept saying, "It wasn't their choice!"
We tried to explain that it was their choice and that if they knew the person driving wasn't okay to drive, they should not get in the car and that her dad and I are a phone call away should she ever be in that position.
We've been fielding a lot of questions about these things lately, a lot of "what-if" scenarios. It's hard. It's so freaking hard. At times I am overwhelmed by it all, but I want so badly for my kids to be as safe as they can. I don't expect them to live in a bubble, I know that's not realistic. (Though it would make a lovely Mother's Day gift) I'm happy this show has given us a way to talk about it all , I am especially happy that the next one we'll watch is about cheating.
Don't get me wrong, cheating is bad, but I need a break from the thought of my kids being in physical danger or disappearing from my life. I think they might need a little break too.