A conversation tonight with my youngest son that revealed what he was thinking:
[After not seeing me go to work for days.]
Son: You still have your job, right?
Me: Yeah, dude. I’m working from home. Remember?
Son: So you still get paid, right?
Me: Yeah, I do.
Son: What about Mom?
Me: She found out today that they are going to start making cuts.
Son: Are we going to be able to keep our utilities and stuff on?
Me: I think we have that stuff worked out right now.
Son: What about people that work at a restaurant and the restaurant closes?
Me: They lose their job. There’s gonna be a lot of people with serious needs.
Son: So they don’t make money, but they still have to pay their bills?
Me: Yeah, man…
Son: [Pauses and Thinks] This is like, apocalyptic stuff!
Me: It’s the unknown, but we’ll face it as a family. We go through the good together…
Son: ….and the bad.
A conversation not ten minutes later with my oldest son that revealed his heart:
[Cook at a local restaurant.]
Son: Hey, can I talk to you?
Son: So tomorrow will be our last regular day at the restaurant.
Me: Then what? You guys closing too?
Son: Take-out will be open. I’m okay because I cook. Fifty servers will be out of work.
Me: Ugh. Man. What are you thinking?
Son: I want to help them, but I don’t know the best way to do it.
[What followed was a conversation about the best ways to help the people he cared about. We talked about helping a lot of people a little, versus, helping a few people a lot. We talked about how to find out who will be hurt by this the most. We talked over his budget and discussed how much he wanted to spend and about whether he should buy food or buy gift cards. We talked about how he wanted to help anonymously.]
Son: So, I’m just gonna buy gift cards and talk to the front of the house manager.
Me: Find out who will be jammed up the most? Maybe single moms with kids?
Son: Yeah, I’ll have the manager give them the cards. Then they can buy food they like.
Me: Very cool that you are getting outside yourself and thinking about other people.
Son: I just wanna help out… these people are my work family.
Me: If you get a chance, talk to your little brother…
Have age-appropriate conversations with your kids. Be honest. Be real. Be a good listener. Their mind and heart might be “between the lines” (like my youngest son’s underlying fear.) They might want to know what is going on and need help processing it. They may need hope. They may just need to vent. They may want to talk about helping other people during these difficult times.
I was fortunate tonight that my two sons came to me. That won’t always happen. Don’t wait for them to start a conversation.
Emphasize that this will be challenging but this will pass. Reinforce the idea that we are a family and we are in this together, no matter what. Encourage them to think outside of themselves and consider how they can help other people.
We are all connected.
This is an opportunity for your kids to learn valuable life lessons and develop character. This is an opportunity for you to connect with your kids. Be available. Be a good listener. Be their guide.