CHICAGO – Parents should read to their children at night, share meals with them and keep a calm atmosphere at home so kids feel safe following last week's terrorism attacks, first lady Laura Bush said on Tuesday's episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show.
"It's so important to let children talk as well, instead of just talking to them," Mrs. Bush said during the show, which focused on helping parents explain the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon to their children.
Parents need to address their children's concerns and nightmares about the attacks that left more than 5,400 people missing, Mrs. Bush said.
"A lot of these parents probably have no idea that their children feel this way," she said. "As parents and teachers, both, we talk to children and we forget to listen."
Mrs. Bush said she spoke with her twin 19-year-old daughters after the attacks and told them they were going to be safe, that she loved them and that "things were going to be all right."
"It's very reassuring for children to hear their parents' voice," Mrs. Bush said.
Parents also should encourage their children to write letters to families of victims of the attacks so they feel like they are helping, she said. She called for parents to "put their arms around their children and reassure them," and said parents should be patient when children ask repeated questions about the attacks.
"It might become a little irritating, but try to realize that they are trying to cope with the same feelings as adults," Mrs. Bush said.
She also praised the efforts of rescue and hospital workers.
"Of course we can't explain terrorism. We really can't. It's just a horrible, evil thing, but one good thing out of this is we've seen so much good," Mrs. Bush said.
"Americans are strong. They are very resilient. We see that every single day," she said.