Grandparent Discoveries Blog

Grandparenting Through Tragedy

Cheryl Beaudoin

I have been sitting with all the feelings associated with another school tragedy in our country. As a former teacher, it especially hits hard. Going through the safety drills with kindergarteners was a frightening experience that has now become even more meaningful and needed.

When my own children were growing up, this was not anything I or my peers needed to worry or have discussions about. I feel lucky to not have had to have those difficult and scary conversations with my kids when they were little.

As I watch these horrors unfold, I fear for my grandchildren’s future and what is in store for them. I don’t envy the young parents with school-aged children who need to try to make sense of this with their kids. Although my grandchildren are very young, they will be heading to public school in a year, which means they will most likely be having these conversations in their classroom and at home in the not-so-distant future.

My go-to approach to helping my grands begin to digest challenging subjects is picture books. Reading aloud to them while snuggled together is soothing and comforting, and a good environment for question-asking and conversation. I haven’t looked for books around this topic yet but some books that I am considering can be found here. Another possible set of resources is these articles and videos from the folks at Sesame Street; they cover multiple topics associated with violence and of course Sesame Street is familiar to kids.

As I think about what my role should be with my grands in these difficult times, I believe the best we can do is to make them feel safe: to love them unconditionally and always be there to hug them, talk to them, and allow them to ask questions and share their feelings. It is important to make sure that what we say to them and how we answer their questions is in line with what their parents will tell them, so as not to be confusing. We grandparents can support our adult children’s heavy lifting in these tragic situations by doing our part to make our grands continue to feel special, loved, and most importantly, safe.

How do you soothe and support your grandchildren when faced with challenging topics or tragedy? Have you found any particular books that have helped your grands? Do you have other ideas we can discuss? Please comment below or email me at

Cheryl Beaudoin

Hi, I’m Cheryl: grandmother, retired Kindergarten teacher, longtime friend (and current Board member) of the Discovery Museum—and now, blogger!  As a grandparent, I try to apply what I learned as a teacher about children and their development to strengthen my relationships with my grandchildren and bring them joy. My hope for this blog is to engage with other grandparents in the Museum community to collect and share stories and ideas about the joys—and challenges—of grandparenting, and how we can connect and deepen our relationships with our grandchildren. Please join me in this wonderful journey we are on—I look forward to hearing from you! Use the comment box at the bottom of any blog post or email me at


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