parenting after 9/11

This morning as I drove my children to school, I looked back at them in the rear view mirror.  They were all decked out in red, white, and blue as requested by their school.  They were going to spend some time in prayer and remembrance today, September 11th.  My eleven year old caught me looking and I smiled at him remembering that chubby 6 month old child that he was that day.    I decided to share with them, my memories of 9/11.

We had just, the day before, returned from vacation .  Our first long vacation as a little family.  We had gone to North Carolina with friends.  That long drive home is forever etched in my mind, crystal clear; the road twisting and turning through the hollers of rural Virgina and the long  unending stretch of highway filled with semi after semi as we headed home.

The next morning I woke up, got ready, put my chubby six month old in the car and headed to my parent’s house to drop him off on my way to work.  I turned on the radio and the world changed!

I ran into my mom’s house and we turned on the TV and stared in disbelief as the 2nd plane hit the tower.  We watched as my son crawled around us trying to get our attention.  A couple of hours later I went outside and realized that I had left the car running the entire time!

I did not hear from my husband until late that evening because he was working on a military base, as a civilian, which went under lock-down as soon as the first plane hit.  My father-in-law was actually on his way to the Twin Towers that Tuesday morning where he had a few accounts for his job.  He got delayed in traffic and watched the towers fall from his car!

Late that night as we lay in bed a thunderstorm came through.  I remember clinging to my husband and thinking about my six month old fast asleep in the next room.  I wondered what his world would be like.

Now here it is eleven years later.  I realized that all my children have ever known is a Post 9/11world.  My kids’ (we’ve added three more since then) only memories are those of their parents and grandparents.  It’s just an event that they hear about every year and still don’t totally understand.  Yet I imagine that it has changed their lives because it changed how we parented.  Innocence was lost on that sunny September morning and it affected all of us young parents.

I’ve heard this generation of children called the “hyper-parented generation”.  Maybe September 11, 2001 is one of the reasons why.  We realized how quickly things can change, how any of us can be taken at any time.  It caused us to hold tighter to our children.  We try to protect our children from everything and keep them from getting hurt.  If we can just shelter them enough or deal with their problems for them, then they will be okay.  The harshness of this world will not affect them.  Yet, no matter how hard we try we can’t protect them from all harm.  It’s a strong instinct, especially with woman, that to protect your children.  Yet, I am really not sure what this generation of children is going to be like as a result of this, our parenting.  Perhaps the terrorists have forever changed our children as well because they have forever changed how we parent.

What do you think?  Do you think there was a shift in parenting as a result of 9/11 and how does that affect our children?

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5 thoughts on “parenting after 9/11

  1. Wow, Heather, I cried as I read this. Yesterday was the first time since 2001 that I actually watched the first 2 hours of news footage from that day and re-lived the day. I really do think it changed how we parent, but not all in bad ways. I think we do hold a little tighter, and are bit more cautious, but we also cherish our families so much. I think making it a priority to spend time together was a positive “side effect” of the shift in parenting that happened that day. Thank you for writing this and sharing.

  2. it’s not the same world. my freedom as a child was radically different then my kids. i can only speak for myself, but i’ve kept my kids in a bit of a bubble – maybe too much, now i have hard time getting them out – and then they’re always looking to me to take care of everything. one thing i can say for my young, free spirited, non parenting parents of the 70’s was that i certainly learned to be independent.

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