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Visiting Paris with kids after the attacks

Why My Family Will Still Travel to Paris

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Every chance we get my family hits the road or skies in search of new adventures. My kids have ziplined, parasailed, snorkeled, star gazed, skied, and enjoyed all sorts of unique experiences before even hitting their double digits. I love that their eyes light up whenever there is talk of an upcoming trip, that they look at plane tickets like they’ve won the lottery, and that they can’t wait to see where will we go next, who we will meet or what we will do together.

With the recent attacks in Paris, it would be easy to pull the plug on our passion for traveling, especially our plans for visiting Paris in April, but what I’d wind up snuffing out in the process would be a greater loss to my children than getting on the plane.

Keeping my kids home would rob them of seeing one of the most beautiful cities I’ve ever laid eyes on. Visiting Paris gave me one of the first defining moments of my young adult life.

Like the sole American who was killed in the attack, I first came to Paris as a college student. While it was a different time, terrorism was still a concern. Iran was the threat then. Foreign travelers even needed visas simply to enter France.

My trip to Paris was my first time abroad and I was on my own to navigate a culture I knew only from books and movies, and a language I had only a passing familiarity with despite my extremely French maiden name. All of it was dazzling — the culture, the art, the history, the cafés, the Seine, the lights — and I am beyond excited to share the experience with my young daughter who is beginning to learn about France in school.

As I internally processed my own concerns about our upcoming travel plans, I decided to measure the anxiety that might be looming in my kids. My oldest child, as she often does, blew my mind with her wise beyond her years response.

“It’s not like we haven’t already visited a site of terrorism, Mom,” she remembered.

“True, we’ve been to the 9/11 Memorial and Museum in New York City,” I agreed.

“We didn’t just go there on any day; we were there when the first occupants moved into Freedom Tower,” she reminded me with a high five.

There it was, the courage I momentarily misplaced in all of those horrific headlines was right there in my daughter’s eyes. She is already winning against this threat. Sometimes it just takes the hopeful wide-eyed perspective of a child to put adult reasoning in its proper order. I won’t let terrorism take that from her, because we need an epidemic of this attitude to put terrorism down.

So let it be known that this family will still be visiting Paris next month. We will pay our respects to the lost. We will let ourselves be dazzled by the art, the food, the culture and all the city-of-light has to offer. We will watch with delight as our children’s horizons broaden. We will win because the only way to beat terrorism is to never stop traveling.

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Paris photo by Alex Holyoake / CC BY 2.0

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Kristine lives in Mountain View, California, where she is the mother of a gifted girl athlete and a special needs charmer. Like almost everything in her house,…

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