Ever since last Wednesday I’ve been engaging in an internal battle over how much Haiti media exposure—if any—my kids can and should handle. Eldest is 14 and Middle is 11 and although the subject of Haiti has come up at home and in school, my impulse as a parent is to shield them from the stories and images that dominate just about every media outlet this week. Why? Because they will have plenty of time as adults to see boundless suffering, to feel powerless to do anything to help, to question why horrible things happen to innocent people every single day, all around the world.
And yet…I want them to grow up to be compassionate people. I want them to give their time and money to people who are less fortunate. I want them to see how many advantages they have, not just because their parents can afford to take them on nice vacations and buy a PSP Go for Christmas (the highlight of Middle’s year), but because they live in a house that has clean water coming out of the faucet. And how do you make that lesson powerful, meaningful, memorable while shielding them from disasters like Haiti?
I would love to know what other parents are doing. So far I’ve more or less kept the TV off at home, and instead asked the kids if they wanted to contribute allowance money to a family donation for Haiti relief. But then last night while I was making dinner I turned on the evening news, and my two older boys parked themselves in front of the TV and wouldn’t look away. I’m not sure if that’s good or bad.