It’s been quite a week in southern Alberta as clean-up continues from the Flood of the Century. The generosity of Calgarians has become legendary as CNN did an op-ed on our deep spirit of kindness as opposed to what happened during Hurricane Katrina where looters were shot by the police. It makes me very proud of this wonderful community where I live. Whenever loss or suffering occurs to others, it becomes a good teaching moment for our children. They shouldn’t ever be shielded from this basic fact of life. Right now many children are experiencing the loss of being displaced. And other children are carrying on without any affect at all. It seems so surrealistic…did this really happen?

Here are some tips to help our children deal effectively with all that’s happened.

  1. Be Sensitive. If your child has a friend whose family home has been badly damaged, this isn’t the time for telling the friend about the fun vacation plans at the lake while the friend’s summer plans have now devolved into a major clean-up.
  2. Be Concerned. It’s perfectly fine and a sign of maturity to ask their friend how the family is coping with the challenges. Not asking out of fear of making the friend feel bad will only increase the sense that your child isn’t interested in their difficulties.
  3. Be Attentive. Your children may feel overwhelmed by the devastation depicted on the media. If they are feeling sad, help them to understand that the best solution is to think of others and what they are going through. These are excellent opportunities to share the fact that challenges only serve to make them stronger in the long run. It’s not something to be feared.
  4. Be Proactive. Encourage your children to think of ways to help. They could do a closet purge of gently used clothing or toys. They might like to sell lemonade or homes baked cookies in the neighborhood and give the proceeds to the Red Cross. They have wonderful imaginations for ideas!!

We are stronger than we realize. And this knowledge is tested through the “fire” of adversity. This is all part of the natural formation of our children into mature adulthood. As parents, we would do them a great disservice if they were shielded from the opportunity to become better people.

Maria Doll

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