1) BE THE BOSS: The greatest indicator of a child’s sense of well being is a parent’s sense of well being. How you act and respond to what is going on in the world will be absorbed by your children, but they don’t necessarily have the maturity or skills to put it all in perspective. You are their role model. Keep your calm, and they will better carry on.
2) TALK IT OUT: I am often asked how to talk to kids about the news from bombs in Turkey to shootings in suburban schools. There is admittedly no single right way. Age and maturity level are relevant, of course, but in this interconnected world, your kids likely know more than you want and sooner than you might realize. Engage them and measure their fears; discuss all the things you are doing to keep them safer (see below); and remind them that while there are some bad people, there are so many more good people. Don’t say things like “Yeah, I know, the whole world is going to hell in a hand basket.” It doesn’t help.
3) GET SHOPPING: Of all the crap you buy on a regular basis, it doesn’t take much more effort to get your home ready should something happen that disrupts your community. A prepared home goes further than anything else in empowering you to know you got your bases covered, and letting the kids know that you’ve done something. Emergency managers like to remind people to buy for three days: “72 on you.” That may be a lot, so get started with a day at least. This list will get you pretty far: water, non-perishable food, flashlights and batteries, candles and matches, a first-aid kit, special medications or glasses, infant formula and diapers, pet food (don’t forget Fido!), and hand and body sanitizers. I’ve shopped this list several times; excluding travel time, I’m in and out of Walmart in less than an hour. And make it personal for your comfort: we have spare vodka and Red Vines as well.
And my favorite, #7:
7) LIVE YOUR LIFE: Our homeland security, for all its flaws, is pretty basic. It is about minimizing risks, maximizing defenses, and maintaining our spirit. No system of security, or parenting, is going to reduce the risk to zero and, truth be told, we wouldn’t want it that way. Remind your kids of the benefits of their engagement in the world: the travel and visits to grandparents or Disney World; the baseball game or Taylor Swift concert; that iPhone.
Ever since 9/11 our home has had four “go packs” ready in case of an emergency. Of course, those granola bars are about 15 years old now. (Can they possibly taste worse than when we packed them?) But still. Nothing wrong with sensibly preparing for a disaster, if only so then you can put it out of your mind. If it happens, you’re as ready as can be.
And then, like Security Mom says: Live your life. – L.