Having a newborn to go along with our almost-three year old and eight year old has been quite an adjustment. New routines, lots of sleep-deprived people in the house, tough to make plans beyond tomorrow, etc. We have no regrets about our family expansion plan, though it does seem like things have been real stressful for a few months now.
Last night I attended a program about homelessness. I’ll be honest – this is a topic I really haven’t thought about much. I suspect many of my colleagues and friends in attendance haven’t either, especially as one of the presenters described homelessness in our community as a “hidden” problem.
I’m not going to get into the details – this isn’t the space for that conversation. Suffice to say I was pretty moved by what I heard – stories of hardship and stories of humanity and everyday heroes. But the stories that probably touched me the most were about the children in our community who are impacted by homelessness. In a school year that is only halfway over our local urban school district has already dealt with over 2300 students who have been homeless to one extent or another. That’s not a misprint – 2300. They have a position in the school district of “Homeless Coordinator.” Growing up in my suburban school district I’m pretty sure we didn’t have one of those.
As I was driving home I was of course thinking about the challenges the community and these families face. Then I was thinking about the feelings of stress we’ve had in our home lately. It kind of put things in perspective.
That doesn’t mean that our feelings of stress were any less valid. But it did serve as a reminder about not taking things for granted. (As a side note, I think its quite easy for people who grew up or who today live in privilege to look at the world around them and feel guilty for having so many luxuries, let alone basics, that people right around the corner, or around the world, are lacking. I’m not suggesting we should feel guilty for having these luxuries, or feel guilty for feeling stressed about our lives. I am suggesting that it offers some perspective. If you want to read a really good book on the topic, check out “Life is What You Make It,” by Peter Buffett - son of Warren.)
This morning when I was hanging out with my eight year old, last night’s topic was on my mind. I decided to share it with him. I wanted him to know that a problem in our community touched me and I wanted to see if he was interested in doing something about it with me.
I’m not sure what I was expecting his reaction to be. He seemed very moved by the stories about kids and homelessness, but he didn’t know what to do with the information. So he excused himself to go to the bathroom!
I think I still want to explore this topic with him, thought it got me thinking about the idea of bringing up serious topics with kids in general. What’s the right age? How do you do it? Would love to hear about some of the “deep” topic conversations you’ve had with your kids.
(Photo Credit: http://extension.unh.edu/fhgec/images/father-son-talk_web.jpg)