Explaining the Tsunami to My Children

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It has been a painful week all over the world, and the energy and stress is affecting many of us.

David and I lay I bed last night talking about the visions of the Tsunami-ravaged coast. We have had the news on a lot in our home and our kids have watched many moments. They are asking a lot of questions.

I had few words to describe the feeling in our community to the press during a recent red carpet event, but then my 8 year old, Sierra asked me, “Mommy is the tsunami still going on?” ‘No I said, but the effects of it will be last for a long long time….” I was so sad for the fear in her curiosity.

It’s hard to not react in front of our children when we are disturbed by the news of an event. Our natural reactions stay with our children for a very long time and they process them so differently. I have noticed a sense of stress in our home. I believe that it’s an empathetic reaction to what is going on in Japan. They hear bits and pieces of conversations, phone calls, news coverage. I can only imagine how confusing and even scary it may be for their tender minds.

The morning of the Earthquake, as the Tsunami coverage unfolded on our TV screens, Shaya yelled out, “Oh noooooo, is the big wave coming here?!? Oh nooo, my toys!” It was very real for him, and very scary. He cried and feared that he may lose his precious things. It seems trivial compared to what is going on, and I am only mentioning to show the emotional effect it has on many different levels for all of us. Rain asked me why everyone is so sad and why people are missing. Try explaining the reality of a catastrophic disaster honestly to a child while making it age appropriate and comprehensive. Or try explaining what a Japanese nuclear reactor is because you couldn’t change the channel from CNN fast enough!

The morning of the earthquake, David and I were up at 5a.m. watching the coverage and I prepped my kids before they saw it that morning. But still, those images are scary and last in their minds for a long time. This week we will begin talking about relief efforts, and I will try to show them images of that. I do not shelter my kids from the terrible things that are happening in our world. I know they will pick up on the sadness on their own from people here and there. What I do is try to explain it for them and try to make them feel safe in the process. It is such a sad time, and I know my children are feeling it. We are thinking a lot about everyone who is suffering and praying and waiting to learn how we can help.

I would like to edit all of the unfortunate world events for my children. I would like to edit all of the painful moments that they will experience in their lives. But, I can’t, that’s not life. So I fill in the blanks with all the good stuff.

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