Here at Dadspin, we understand how difficult it is to explain certain subjects to your children. This is why we’ve created Dadspin Explainer, a handy running guide to teaching your children about really horrible shit.
THE SUBJECT: Adolf Hitler
PROPER AGE FOR FIRST HITLER DISCUSSION: Nine-ish.
HOW IT COMES UP: At dinner. This shit always happens at dinner, out of the fucking blue. I’m wolfing down a meatball, and the oldest kid goes, “Hey, Dad, who’s Hitler?” No warning of any kind. I nearly choked. Clearly she heard someone drop the H-Bomb on YouTube.
TOPLINE SUMMARY: “He was a REALLY bad guy. Maybe the worst guy ever.”
“BUT WHY, DADDY?” “He started World War II and killed millions of people, and he killed them just because they were different from him. You shouldn’t kill people because they’re different.”
“BUT WHY?” “Because it’s wrong! Shut up and eat your dessert.”
OBLIGATORY MOMENT OF NAGGING: “Don’t ever say you’re a fan of Hitler, or else no dessert ever.”
INCREMENTAL TEACHINGS: Once you’ve established the topline summary of who Hitler is, you can elaborate further if your kid asks “Why?” 7,000 more times. Here are some basic, simplified teachings. I’m not saying you should whitewash everything and add candy and rainbows to the story; just give them the basics, and if they want to learn more or they have more questions, you help them explore further.
* “Adolf Hitler lived in Germany.” (He was actually Austrian, but don’t get into this, because then the whole thing shifts to a geography lesson.)
* “He took over Germany and wanted to take over the world. His followers were called Nazis.”
* “Anyone who disagreed with him was jailed and/or killed. Again, bad.”
* “He rounded up all the Jewish people and killed over six million of them and would have killed more if he hadn’t been stopped.”
* “Yeah, like your friend Billy! He’s Jewish!”
* [Googles for picture of Hitler.] “See his mustache? It’s a very silly mustache. Don’t trust anyone who has this mustache.”
* [Viewing of Raiders of The Lost Ark] “See those guys with the armbands? Nazis.”
* “How did he die? Well, he was about to get caught by the Americans and lose the war, so he killed himself. What a fucking coward. Don’t tell your mom I said ‘fucking.’”
* [Explanation of concentration camps.]
* [Viewing of Schindler’s List.]
* [Kid comes home with a shaved head and Dr. Martens boots.] “Son, what the fuck?”
Drew Magary writes for Deadspin. He’s also a correspondent for GQ. Follow him on Twitter @drewmagary and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also pre-order Drew’s second novel, The Hike, through here.
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