by Lisa Y. Taylor
When tragedy of the scope of the Haitian earthquake strikes, it’s difficult to shield our children from the resulting images in the media and the conversations of family and friends. This month’s column reveals how kids respond when they observe distressing events and situations and how parents can use these times as teachable moments.
To kick off the new year, Leticia Arroyo, her husband and their four children ventured to Monterrey, Mexico. They enjoyed horseback riding and visiting the Sesame Street amusement park, but what Arroyo treasures most are the questions asked by her two oldest children as they observed the poverty of some of the local residents.
Josiah, age 8, asked: “Mom, why do those little kids not have shoes, and why are they trying to sell gum to every person that walks by?”
Jackie, age 6, chimed in: “Mom, why are that mother and her baby sitting on the floor playing a broken keyboard, and why are her clothes so dirty?”
During the rest of the trip, Arroyo says both kiddos were cautious about using their spending money, and Jackie managed to save a few pesos to give away to some pleading women.
“I could see the wheels turning in their minds as they began to internalize some real-life issues,” she says. “They were starting to notice the world around them and to see first-hand that we enjoy so many blessings in our lives.”
As for my family, when I asked my 9-year-old daughter, Hannah, what she remembered most about the Haitian earthquake news, she responded: “The hurt kids. Many of them don’t have parents now, and because they’re already hurt, it makes their sadness worse.”
In the hopes that a little money could go a long way, Hannah didn’t hesitate to forego one week’s allowance and to give up our ritual of Friday night fast food, in order to contribute to a charity to help the Haitian people.
“We have plenty of food, and we don’t have to go out to get it,” Hannah says. “Most of the Haitians won’t be able to help themselves, and giving them money is the right thing to do.”
Our kids show us that perspective is everything.