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When Headlines Shatter Our Security as Parents

Watched the news lately? All the scary headlines make it feel even harder to be a parent. Kids who've gone missing, horrific car crashes, murderers too young to even have a driver's license—sometimes it feels like around every corner someone is waiting to hurt your child. When you hear scary stories like these from the news, how do you move forward? Does your parenting change to reflect each new fear?

We read articles encouraging us to let our kids run free, have a "1970s Summer" and to stop helicopter parenting our little ones. Then we see a story like the horrible tale unfolding in Santa Cruz, about an hour from my home, where a 15-year-old is being charged as an adult in the murder of his 8-year-old friend. And we feel conflicted yet again. How do we parent our kids in these circumstances? What about our teens? How do you know how much you can really let them go?

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Katie Hurley, LCSW, mom.me writer and author of the upcoming book, "The Happy Kid Handbook" shares how she handles scary news stories in relation to her parenting. "Sadly, fear-based parenting seems to be the new normal," she shares. "We are overexposed to scary headlines these days, and frightening stories can cause us to rethink our parenting."

Hurley says that it's important for parents to step away from the headlines and touch base with their own realities. "We can't possibly protect our children from everything, but we can raise them to be assertive, to know what to do if something doesn't feel right and to listen to their instincts," she adds.

Nichole Beaudry, mom.me writer and co-founder of Avery and Austin, says these headlines can really work their way into her psyche. "Last week, late one evening while my husband was traveling, we both saw in the news that a little girl who was missing and subsequently found dead absolutely matched the description of our daughter" she recalls. "My husband was so rattled that he texted me and asked that I go in and give our daughter an extra hug."

Once in a while you just need to hug them a little bit closer.

But Beaudry had already scooped up her daughter's heavy, sleeping body and brought her into her own bed to hold her close.

"For several days, I couldn't look at our daughter without thinking of that little girl who never got to go home," she said. When scary news hits too close to home, it can be even worse.

Writer, mother of three and teacher Katie Sluiter has her own scary headlines close to home. "Because we live so close to Lake Michigan, we get lots of headlines about drownings, "she shares. "And with summer here, there are lots of crowds and tourists. We talk to our 6- and 3-year-olds frequently about always wearing a life jacket in the water, never going near the water without a parent or adult and to NEVER trust someone you don't know to take you anywhere."

But Sluiter says she doesn't allow scary stories in the news to keep her family from doing fun things. "They do serve as a reminder to always communicate with our kids."

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So what's the best way to handle all this? Maybe the best takeaway from scary headlines is that we are doing our absolute best to keep our kids safe each and every day—but once in a while you just need to hug them a little bit closer.

Image via Twenty20/brittleighhhh

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