My oldest daughter's teacher has a saying: "Kids should live in a G-rated world."
My eight-year-old daughter repeats the mantra often. In theory, I agree with the concept. Kids should not be exposed to profanity, obscenity or violence. This applies to what they see on television or at the movies, what they come in contact with on the computer, and of course, anything involving their home life.
But short of putting a child in a plastic bubble (ala the John Travolta movie in the 1970s, "Boy in the Plastic Bubble"), I'm not sure how to keep them from ever being exposed to inappropriate material in today's fast-moving world.
Given my job – a crime reporter who concentrates on covering murders – it is especially difficult to keep my daughters from overhearing conversations or phone calls about my work. In addition, they occasionally watch me on television and ask me questions.
I've chosen, right or wrong, to answer their questions directly with age-appropriate language. So far my oldest daughter has exhibited the maturity to handle the answers I offer to her. I think she is more cautious than many children her age, but not paranoid. I think she understands there are bad people in the world who do bad things, but most people are good. She also knows there are a lot of good people, like police officers, who are there to help when you are in crisis.
When I was growing up my father was the district attorney in the county where we lived. Like my children, I was also exposed to the homicide cases my father handled. As I recall, he was honest and open when I asked him questions. I appreciated that.
Clearly, it is up to each family how they handle these topics. Believe me, I wish the world was G-rated, but it's not. I'm doing my best to keep our home that way, but some days I have to admit we're getting pretty close to a PG-13.