Parenting In A Difficult World

Parenting In A Difficult World
Question: 

Ever since a tragic accident (r"l) in my community, I have become very concerned about my children's safety. I call from work twice each afternoon to make sure my children are still home and I don't let them go anywhere unless an adult I know is going to be there. How can I explain to my children that their safety is more important than getting to go wherever they want?

Answer:

People generally become a lot more diligent after they have been through a frightening experience, even if it was only as a witness or having been in the same area at the time.  It sounds like this is what has happened to you.

Children react differently to such things. Sometimes they are afraid to leave the house, sometimes they become suddenly afraid of the dark, or they don't want to enter an empty room, they won't sleep alone… all kinds of things. But for those who are not effected by what happened, or who react but not with a fear of leaving the house, they can't understand why they shouldn't go out as usual to be with their friends, to play or do homework at someone else's home, to go to the store and buy a snack or a slice of pizza.

It's important to find a middle ground here, so your children don't begin to rebel, to sneak out instead, or become angry and defiant because they feel like the home has become a prison – and so you can rest easy that they are not in any danger.

I don't know how old your children are, and many of the strategies to deal with this are dependent on the age of the child involved.  But in general, if the friends live close by, if you can track the time it takes from leaving school to the estimated arrival of your child at the friend's house, this may be a good way to start. It is of course important that at least one parent or older (we're talking 18-plus here) sibling be present in the home to which the child goes, so that you can call to make sure he or she has arrived safely. The same is true when it's time to go home.

It's a start. I would also suggest that you explain to your children that the tragedy has an effect on their entire community – and on you too.  It's okay to tell them that you are more concerned than ever for their safety, because it is impossible to understand Hashem's reasons for allowing tragedies to happen – but that He expects us to do our best to avoid them.


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