Parenting Expert Shares How To Broach The Topic Of Gun Violence With Your Kids - Exclusive

There have been over 300 mass shootings in the United States in 2022 alone, and the staggering data has left many Americans grappling with the aftereffects. Though it can be a tempestuous conversation for adults, it's time to examine how to include children in the discussion since school shootings in places like Uvalde, Texas indicated the 27th school shooting just this year (via NPR).

While Americans have watched the current administration make some legislative strides in hopes of combatting the gun violence epidemic, there are parents out there wondering how to approach the inevitable topic of gun violence with their children.

Luckily, there are a plethora of resources out there to help, and even experts who can make the anxiety-ridden job of discussing this horrific topic a more digestible one for parents and children alike. Cathy Domoney, world-renowned parenting expert, author, mentor, and CEO of Parenting Evolution, is providing helpful rhetoric and insight to prepare you before that difficult, but necessary, talk with young ones.

It's important to make children feel 'seen' during these difficult discussions

Parenting can be a tremendous source of joy, though to say it's accompanied with its fair amount of challenges is an understatement. As children start to bloom in the simultaneously beautiful and chaotic world, there comes a time when serious conversations about certain pressing societal topics cannot be ignored.

"As parents, it's our role to make our children feel seen, valued, heard, understood, and taken seriously," Cathy Domoney tells The List. Domoney works as a parenting expert to help empower both parents and children in ways that are positive, healthy, and supportive. An award-winning children's author, counselor, mentor, educator, and family empowerment expert, Domoney can speak to parenting advice on topics such as what to do if your child wants to quit an extracurricular activity to more serious issues, like the topic of gun violence.

Though this is a heavy topic that really no parent should ever have to prioritize with their child, Everytown reports that more than 3,500 children and teens are shot and killed and 15,000 more are shot and injured, while approximately 3 million American children are exposed to shootings every year.

"We must have uncomfortable conversations about difficult topics," Domoney suggests. "Kids are smart and intuitive beings ... It's equally important to respond in an age-appropriate way with truthful answers. This does not mean overloading them with all available facts; it means crafting your answers to support them in the way that they need to be supported."

While discussing gun violence, parents should 'establish a sacred atmosphere'

It might be tempting to avoid tough conversations with children out of fear of making a mistake. However, parenting expert Cathy Domoney emphasizes that it's vital that parents listen and communicate with children to the best of their ability, which can help build confidence and trust.

"In situations where their fear is attached to something out of their control — like gun violence — we can give some comfort by reviewing what is within their control and highlighting every measure that is being taken to keep them safe," Domoney says. "Creating an environment in which no topic is off the table — where our kids can speak freely and with confidence, knowing that they are safe and will be heard and respected — is truly invaluable."

Domoney also offers that when discussing violent matters, it's important to set an open and loving tone. For some parents, she advises that limiting children's exposure to news coverage can make conversation around gun violence easier.

"The news is designed to capture the attention of the viewer, often in alarmist ways, so limiting their exposure to this can only benefit their mental wellbeing," she says. "The sooner we establish a sacred atmosphere in which everyone can speak freely and connect deeply, the better it will be for all concerned."