This weekend my son brought up the tragedy in Haiti. He wanted to know whether I had heard about it or not. I hadn’t sat him down and discussed it with him, because I wasn’t sure whether he even knew about it or not. Apparently he does. His school has said prayers for the families that have searched for lost love ones, as well as the people who passed away in the earthquake. It makes me so sad that little by little my son’s innocence is disappearing. We can only keep our children sheltered for so long, and then the big bad world starts to invade innocent minds, and all we can do as parents is try to prepare our children to deal with life.
I started asking him questions, because I wanted to know how much he was aware of, and if he understood the magnitude of the devastation. And indeed he did. He voiced that he knew that over a hundred thousand people had died. He wanted to know if an earthquake like that could happen in Canada, and he asked me what happens to those families now that don’t have homes.
My heart broke a little. How do you answer some of these very adult questions with answers a child will understand? It is hard enough for US to wrap our heads around let alone make a child understand. How much do we say for fear of saying too little, or too much….
I tried to be as upfront as I could. I explained to my son that there indeed was a bad earthquake, and people did die as a result of it. I also explained that there are many earthquakes that aren’t even close to as bad as the one that occurred, and that we in Canada don’t have to exactly worry about things like that happening here, and that we can do things to help the people in Haiti such as sending them our thoughts and prayers, donating our pocket-money to The Red Cross, or contact a church or organization that may take clothing or other things to bring to the people who have been displaced.
I told him it was okay to be sad or mad or confused even, and if he felt this way it was totally normal, and he could talk to me about those things. He said he was sad, but he didn’t want to discuss it. I think he needs some time to process it all.
There are online resources on this subject if you are having issues discussing this with your child, or you want to make some reassurance that you have said the right things. I thought I would pass this info on.
As my son walked away after our conversation, I said a little pray to the universe that I had said the right thing. I have learned as a parent that there are things I just cannot control, but I hope I can somehow make a difference and ease fears when he has to face the real world.