Features

Inquiring minds

National

Issue: "California's wall of fire," Nov. 8, 2003

What exactly happened in an Edwards, Colo., hotel room on June 30? Inquiring minds want to know. And if the inquiring minds belong to young fans of NBA star Kobe Bryant, the answers may not be found in a courtroom. As Mr. Bryant's admitted adultery and impending sexual assault trial dominates the news cycles, more and more children are looking for explanations of the lurid details they see on TV or read about online.

Parents may be hard-pressed to come up with the perfect answers, but Paul Carlisle, who teaches pastoral care at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, considers it positive that kids are looking to their parents: "If they're asking questions, that means they're trusting their parents." That's especially good, he says, because of the myriad other sources to which a curious child could have turned.

But good answers are hard to come by, he said, and are often age-specific. "If it was a pre-teen, I might ask them what they think about it and find out what they know," he said. "It's an opportunity to talk to them about the sanctity of marriage or about that actions have consequences. That dovetails into a hundred different conversations."

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When the off-the-field issues bubble up into the mainstream media, suddenly children who feed upon sports are confronted with adult issues. "Today we have to accept that children live in a highly sexualized culture," Mr. Carlisle said. "And I'd talk about the rights and wrongs. How mom and dad believe what he did was wrong and how they took vows and oaths to be monogamous. And you could even bring out the wedding pictures."

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