Haiti

The devastation in Haiti has captured the attention of the world. Like many, I wanted to pack my bags, descend on the island nation and do whatever I could to help. I still feel that way, and I am developing a plan for how I can help the country with some dogged reporting later this year. As we all know, another story will break, the light of the media will shift elsewhere, and the struggle to rebuild that country will not end for years, maybe decades.

The photos and stories of children affect me the most. I want to scoop up as many Haitian children my arms can hold and bring them back to my home. I know it is not feasible and may not be the best way to help. I just feel for the parents and their children. For now, I hug Simone and Nadia a little tighter, give them a few more kisses and count my blessings.

Such devastation makes me think about how much information about the world we share with our children and at what age. I vividly remember understanding and taking an interest in the news when I was 9. I think I will use that as my guide for when and how much information I will share with Simone and Nadia.

When Barack Obama became the 44th president of the United States, I attempted to wake up then 3-year-old Simone so that somehow she might remember the night her mother made a big fuss about something happening on television. As you may remember, the returns came in early. Simone had been asleep a little more than an hour, and I could not wake her. I cuddled with her instead. When Michael Jackson died last summer, Simone informed me of his death a few days after it happened. She had heard about it at preschool, and she knew it was big enough news to share with me. I could tell, though, that death and its meaning did not resonate with her. She did not ask any questions, and I did not offer an explanation.

Simone and Nadia have not spoken a word about the earthquake in Haiti, and I have no plans of sharing what happened with them. I do wonder how other parents have approached such issues in the past and what plans, if any, they have for discussing the world in the future.

What do you say? How do you say it ? And when?

A quick search turned up this resource for teacher and parents.

  • Well, I’ve read that news programs trouble children hard far more than adults. They can have nightmares and the like if they’re not properly introduced. I don’t have to deal with this yet, but I imagine, that I too, will try to frame it as a history and geography lesson. Talk about emergency preparedness and how we can help our fellow neighbors even when they’re very far away. Just teaching your children to look at other people in this world as their neighbors will help, I think.

    • Yes, the news is tough to digest. I am always reading or listening. I am not above turning it off television/radio or putting away the paper/magazine when children are near.

  • I liked how you put this in the context of other historical events, and how you determined, or the girls determined there importance to you all. Re: Haiti, as you know I think my children have a very dear connection to their former nanny who is half Haitian/ half French. So it became necessary to me to find ways to talk about what a natural disaster can be, and what happens when you lose people you love (as she did).

    To handle this in a way that felt both safe for my kids (adoption can trigger other layers of anxiety here) we focused on learning about Haiti prior to the event, (listening to music, eating mangoes, reading children’s book like “Circle of Hope”)and only in small moments about the loss suffered there. This way as Haiti becomes a historical marker of their lifetime, my hope is that they have a “whole Haiti” to connect with the very personal side of watching someone they loved grieving.

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