Monday, November 26, 2012

Hurricane Sandy: What to Tell the Kids

Photo: American Red Cross
Hurricane Sandy may have been "last month's news," but thousands families are still in need and are still hurting.

And many kids are still asking questions. Perhaps they're worried for their safety, worried about another storm. Worried that something bad will happen to them, like it happened to the people in the path of the storm. Maybe they're asking "why me?"

As a parent, I'm often at a loss for words. So here are some words (not my own) that can help you help your child. Depending on your child's age, sensitivity, and questions, here are some tips about how to reflect on the disaster (or other events). This is quoted directly from Kim Lee, a church leader at South Mecklenburg Presbyterian Church in Charlotte, NC. Take pieces of this that relate to your family's faith background. It can be so helpful.

God Can Be Trusted in the Midst of a Storm

"Last march it snowed and then it rained for four days and nights. 'It'll come a tide,' my grandma said. And sure enough… it did." Come a Tide by George Ella Lyon is the heart-warming story of a small but hearty mountain community experiencing a flood. "What do we do now?" comes the plaintive cry after the rain stops and the sun comes out. "If it was me," Grandma said, "I'd make friends with a shovel." And so they do, neighbor helping neighbor. Strikingly, George Ella Lyon writes in her dedication, "For friends and neighbors in Harlan County, Kentucky and for everyone who ever dug out."

Along the eastern seaboard, it has come a tide! And, with all the news coverage about the calamity, our children may be inundated and overexposed to news coverage, pictures, and frightening conversation. We, along with our children, are called to be Christ's light in the world for our brothers and sisters impacted by this devastating storm. It is important to provide careful and thoughtful spaces to talk about and act on our concern and love for those who are suffering. Story books can be a wonderful way to reassure children that God can be trusted in the midst of a storm and engage children in faithful conversation as we consider how to assist God in God's reconciling activity in the world. Here are some tips to help guide you as you journey along with your children through the horror and uncertainty that mark disasters.

Read the story Come a Tide. You may purchase your copy by following the link to Amazon or you may borrow my copy.
  • Say: God gives to us the gift of relationship. God first reaches out to us and in turn gives us the wisdom, strength, love, creativity, and desire to reach out to one another. Ask: What do you think about the story? Have you ever seen a flood? What does Grandma say? What happens to the houses, the neighbors, the pigs, and the chickens when the creeks and the river overflow? Where does the family go? Who takes care of them? What happens there? How do the Mac, the Cains, and Papa Bill take care of one another? How does God want us to treat our neighbors? What things are you good at doing? How could you use the things you are good at to help someone?
  • Allow children to offer their own prayers and reflections through art, song, story, and poem.
  • Older children can look for other Scripture stories and prayers that offer thoughts of God's power and love.
  • Write and/or draw letters and prayers for children's worship.
  • Be available for conversation with your children.
  • Provide a safe and quiet space for them to talk and express their concerns. Important faith values that are understood by children include the personal and protective love of God. Stories of Jesus' love for others and parables of his care for others are especially helpful.
  • Light a special "healing" candle each evening for family devotions or meal times. Speak of the Light of Christ and how God's love will never go away.
  • Limit exposure to TV and other media. This is especially important for younger children, for whom the devastation in the media can be particularly frightening. If you have an older school-age child, you may want to watch the news together and talk about what you're seeing.
  • Acknowledge your child's feelings. Reassure your child that what is happening is scary and confusing, and validate your child's many feelings.
  • Increase quiet time. Add quiet time for the family in the evenings or make reading and quiet time before bed longer.
  • Find out what our denomination is doing to help those suffering in the aftermath of this hurricane by clicking on the following link 

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