More Necessary Losses
June 24, 2014
October 31, 2012
I have been spending too much time watching The Weather Channel, following the approach and aftermath of Sandy. I am sure my interest has to do with the number of friends and family that live in the path of this destructive storm. I am familiar with New York City, with the places I am seeing underwater, torn apart, or covered in sand. I wince every time another sad image is flashed across the screen. But I keep watching, and listening.
This morning on one of the early morning shows a segment was being aired telling parents in effected areas how to help their children’s Halloween celebrations go on in the aftermath of the storm. They had even had an “expert” there to help parents know what to tell their children about why Halloween may be different this year. Or why they may not be going trick-or-treating at all.
I find this ridiculous. Absurd. Embarrassing to the integrity of good parent’s everywhere. But if you really need to know what to tell the children, let me help. One of the biggest storms in history just hit the East Coast. (And, lest we forget, much of the Caribbean where there are limited resources for rescue efforts.) People are suffering. Other people are working around the clock to help restore power and water to communities. It is still dangerous out there. We need to use our time, energy, and money to help others right now. Tell the children that. Tell the children the truth. When Life happens, when things are out of our control, when we need to tend to critical things, then less important things cannot happen, will have to happen differently, or will have to wait. Yes, it is disappointing. Yes, we might be sad. But we are designed to handle disappointment and grief. And life will hold more of those things. More necessary losses. It is the job of parents to know this and teach this. Dealing with what is real is a basic life skill. You have to learn to prioritize. Recreation is not as important as power and food and water and safety and helping others. That’s just the truth. And if you pretend, if you protect children and entertain them and keep them out of real life, they will grow up to be adults who need protection, entertainment, and fantasy.
Before you jump all over me, of course I know there are exceptions to this. There are decisions that need to be made based on the developmental needs of the children. Often children know too many inappropriate things. And there are times, especially regarding issues of violence, evil, and other adult matters, that the cognitive and emotional stages of a child’s personality must be carefully considered. But we have it all backwards. Children don’t know what they need to know and they do know all kinds of things they don’t need to know.
I have great faith in children. Tell the children that they can create their own Halloween ritual. Let them find a creative, fun way to celebrate Halloween and follow their lead. I believe they can do that and would probably enjoy themselves. They might even imagine ways they could, if they have the good fortune of power and water, help other children who won’t be able to celebrate Halloween. Unless we have led them to believe that they can’t. Unless we have formed them to be too spoiled and too rigid and too dependent to engage in imaginative, creative play.
Superstorm Sandy delivered unexpected loss and devastation to millions. Let’s not offend those suffering and those first responders by giving serious air time to whether or not our children will get to trick- or- treat. Let’s teach our children about necessary losses at an early age so that they will grow up to be adults who can stand up to necessary losses.
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