Disaster prompts kids' questions
Michelle Blaylock, Mom's Corner
I hope you had a great Labor Day weekend. I know many did not due to the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. My prayers go out to them.
It has been very hard for me to watch the news and see the suffering.
It's been harder to explain it to my kids. I've taken to screening the news and restricting how much the younger kids see of this tragedy.
It's not that I'm trying to shelter my kids from the tragedies of this world, but I don't believe they need to see it all the time and I certainly don't believe that my younger kids need to know everything all at once. There is a time and place for most everything; this is neither the time nor the place.
I read recently that children today are less empathic than ever because they're exposed to so much violence. That's why I think times like now, with the hurricane disaster, it's important to show our children how to be empathic and show compassion. This is not to insinuate that I or anyone can possibly know what it is like to be a victim in a disaster the magnitude that Hurricane Katrina has brought to these shores. I can't imagine their feeling of hopelessness, desolation and fear.
The TV coverage itself has led to many interesting discussions with our kids. One of the kids was watching the news and the newscaster was in a helicopter flying over survivors trapped on roofs with signs pleading for help. My child looked at me and said, "Mom, why don't those news people help those people on the roof instead of just taking pictures of them?" Good question. I really didn't have an answer for that one.
I also had to explain what looting meant. At least I had an answer for that one- stealing. Of course, one of my younger kids came back with, "Well then, why don't they just say stealing?"
Here's a sample of other questions this disaster has generated. "Momma is stealing OK if you're starving?" "Dad, why are they stealing TVs? How are they going to use it anyway?" "Momma, why don't they just swim to shore?" "Dad, why didn't they just leave before the storm?" "Momma, did kids die, too?"
"Momma, where are they going to the bathroom?" "Daddy, how are they going to clean that up?" "Momma, how are they washing their hands? Won't people get sick from all the dirty water?" "Momma, how are the kids going to go to school this year?" "How can we help?"
Of course, my favorite is the last one.
Therefore, this is a good time to point out how much we have and how little others have. This weekend the Blaylock's cleaned house and rearranged rooms. I also encouraged my kids to give up some of their things to hurricane relief and believe me they have plenty of things to give up.
I explained it like this: I asked my kids to imagine that they were the ones whose house was destroyed by the hurricane. I told them to think what they would feel like if all of their toys, clothes, videos, DVDs and everything else was gone. Never to been seen again. I told them we were going through their things and donating them to the hurricane victims. They agreed it was a good thing to do. I'm proud of them.
Overall, I think we should encourage our children to count their blessings.
One of my favorite hymns is "Count Many Your Blessings." In case you're not familiar with it; part of the lyrics are, "Count your blessings. Name them one by one. Count your many blessings, see what God hath done." This is a good time to name your blessings literally one by one.
In truth, giving to the hurricane victims doesn't make it any easier to watch their suffering on TV, but if I or if my family helps just one person or one family, at least I know I've done something to ease the suffering just a tiny bit. May God bless and keep each one of you.
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