I reached out the the members of the Secularhomeschool.com community as well as a few groups on Facebook about how to talk to my very curious 5 year old daughter about Troy Davis. She was asking questions and I wanted to be as honest with her as I could be without putting too much on her.
My daughter is no stranger to death. In 2009 we lost my oldest sister (36) and my FIL in a span of two months. My daughter, at 3, had a funeral dress!
She understand the finality of death and she knows that some people die because they are very sick, some die in accidents, some because others are mean/angry… etc. So her understanding of death is probably so much clearer than that of others her age.
We have spoken to her about race – as an interracial couple it comes up a lot. And because my remaining sibling is in Florida and I am not on speaking terms with my mother, she is usually around my husband’s white/Italian family. She has had some interesting notions about race and we had to address them. But the complex issue of how Racism played into this case is just too much for her to understand.
Nonetheless, I wanted to explain what was going on.
Here is how the conversation went:
Me: Troy Davis was found guilty of killing a police officer although in the years since his conviction there have been many questions about his guilt. Many people feel that he was convicted despite there being doubt. He was given the death penalty which Mommy feels is wrong because no human being has the right to take another’s life. In much the same way that I don’t believe that it is right for me to hit you to teach you that hitting is wrong, I think killing someone to teach that killing is wrong doesn’t make sense. Many people feel like this and have been fighting for Troy Davis’ life. Unfortunately, our government did not fight for him and his sentence was carried out tonight. I am really sad about this. Do you have any questions?
Her: “I would hate to get dead if I did nothing wrong. Why didn’t they help him?”
Me: “Because sometimes people lose sight of what is right and they allow themselves to be led by fear/anger rather than love and respect.”
Her: “I think love is funer.”
That was it. I am sure she will have some questions as she processes this but I think that this was a good start.
Have you spoken to your young child about topics that are very difficult to explain?