Tuesday, August 12, 2003

Ms. vanden Heuvel thinks of the children

How to talk to your children about President Bush:

Think about your values as they relate to this situation. What are your family's values about telling the truth? What would you do if your child lied to you and when you scolded him or her, he or she replied: ''I am not a fact-checker.'' Or added, ''Isn't it time to move on?''

Ask your children to tell you what words mean to them. Explain that words have consequences and lies can come in two, six or 16 words.

Clarify facts. Give short, age-appropriate answers. Explain that shifting strategies at damage control only lead to more unanswered questions. Make clear that even if facts are malleable for President Bush, they're not malleable in your home. Explain that even though the White House strategy may be to say whatever is necessary, even if they have to admit later that what they said the first time wasn't exactly true, you don't do it that way yourself.

Use these talks with your child to encourage good decision-making. Let them know that if they grow up to become president and lead a nation into war, the right thing to do is take responsibility for their words and acts. (This is a good opportunity to explain what the saying ''the buck stops here'' means.)

Use television news as a springboard for discussion. However, do not let children younger than 13 watch this coverage alone. It can be ugly and disturbing for children to watch the president and his aides scapegoat their subordinates with so little compunction.



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