Why is my child obsessed with Osama Bin Laden?

Dear Diane

oy nine-year-old daughter is utterly obsessed with the osama Bin Laden news as it’s been playing out over the last few weeks. She’s glued to CNN when the coverage is on and reads every newspaper story about him avidly. We’ve had to explain the whole 9/11 situation to her in detail – she was six weeks old when it happened – and at a family dinner recently she spent ages talking about the pros and cons of releasing a photo of him after his death.

Why on earth should this interest her so much, and should we be discouraging it – or is it just a sign that she’s growing up?

Sandra, Auckland


Dear Sandra

This is the age where children become genuinely interested in the outside world. oany political events are complex and go way over their heads. This is one that’s well within the comprehension of a nine-year-old.

It has the concept of right and wrong, the “goodies” catching the “baddy”, and the idea that people who do wrong will be eventually be caught, which appeals to her sense of fairness and moralistic view. As well, she’s reaching the age where she’s discarding the idea of absolute right and wrong, and is able to debate two sides of an argument.

By nine, most children are capable of abstract thinking. She’s also at an age to develop and test values and beliefs. And I’m sure she’s been honing her debating skills. In other words, if you wanted an issue that perfectly matches where she’s at in her cognitive and moral development, the catching and killing of osama bin Laden, the taking of revenge for an action many years ago, and the question of whether or not to show his photo is all perfectly timed for her.

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