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Parental Guidance

Talking, Listening Are Keys to Coping

May 17, 1999

Recently, we asked how you handle news of grim or tragic events with your children. Most replied that the key is to talk. Parents as well as high school students sent some thoughtful responses:

If grim or tragic news events are an important topic of conversation or a very interesting subject, I would bring them up in a regular conversation in the course of a day.

Otherwise, if my children bring up news events in a conversation, I would talk about them with full honesty and openness to help in any way I can.

--LINDA JOHNSON, Del Rio, Texas

. . . We all wonder how the boys in Colorado could do what they did. I wonder if the mother who awakens her child by video wonders. I wonder if a lot of parents who devise schemes to fit children into their workday wonder. Maybe the parents of the (killers) were home and maybe they weren't. But I know this for sure: They weren't listening.

--KATHLEEN STEIN, Monrovia

Raise the topic, then listen. . . . "Model" discussing of feelings by sharing your feelings, such as "I felt angry when I heard about the incident" or "Watching the story unfold made me very sad." Use the incident as an opportunity to share your beliefs and values--on resolving conflict or on death and dying, for example.

--WINNIE ALLEN, clinical psychologist, Los Angeles

From high school students:

It is hard to be a youth, we have a lot of pressure out there, coming down on us so fast we get lost or stuck. The thing that is important is to talk to your kids, let them know you actually care what they do when they go out.

--MONIREL, Valley View High School, Ontario

Show your kids right from wrong, start them young. Let them know you love them and if people talk about you or mess with you, that doesn't mean you have to go and kill someone. Let them know words cannot hurt you and violence is not the answer.

Show your kids that you really do care, and talk to them like you care. When they come home, ask them about their day, ask them was there any trouble? Kids don't like it when parents ask that, but like my mom says, she'll do it anyway. You can't ignore your children's day at school: Go meet their teacher, know their friends and their soul mates.

--KWAME, Valley View High School, Ontario

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The next question: A recent study found that many child-care facilities had hazards that put children at risk. How do you assure yourself that your day-care, family-care or child-care situation is safe? What tips can you share?

Please share your strategies with us in 75 words this week. Send to Parental Guidance, Southern California Living, Los Angeles Times, Times Mirror Square, Los Angeles, CA 90053; or e-mail socalliving@latimes.com. Please include your name, hometown and phone number. Submissions cannot be returned. No telephone calls, please.

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