It is a difficult time to be a parent. Ever since Ondoy hit, nothing has been the same and yet, as parents, something in us knows we must keep home and hearth safe for our children; we must strive to create security. For many in evacuation centers, in the midst of chaos and loss, this cannot be. But for those of us who were spared it is possible, and I think we must make it a goal. I do not take it lightly that my family was spared. I don’t think anyone does.
I have seen photographs of courageous mothers who have organized rescue and relief operations, and have deemed it right that their children should go with them as they gave out goods and help. I’ve also heard of at least one instance where children were having nightmares after such experiences. Though we want our children to develop social awareness and responsibility, I feel we must use our discernment. Are they at an age where they will be able to take the lessons in, or will the experience be too much for them? We do not want to traumatize them. No lesson is worth that.
Personally, I think it is enough that my children see what I am doing and how I am coping, to witness the ways in which we are helping. They are young and, unlike us, are yet unable to process the impressions that will meet them outside. They already feel that the world is changed. They see it in the newspapers, they feel it pressing upon them. You don’t have to be extra-sensitive to feel the pain that is everywhere today. I don’t think it is necessary for very young children to go out there and be in the midst of it, if there were a choice.
My children packed relief goods in their school. They also see how my friends and I are doing our share. For now, it is enough. There was a little boy who brought his mother to a relief center and just the energy of everyone there and the sight of boxes upon boxes overwhelmed him. He started backing out of the room and asked his mother if he could go home. We have to look at our children, take the cue , see what they can and cannot take and respect that.
There is plenty of time for them to learn the harsh lessons of the world–and there will be many. As parents in this changed world, we must take the time to see which lessons our children are ready for and how the different experiences will make their impressions on the soul.