Homelessness. It’s not easy to talk about, but it is imperative that we not ignore when our children have questions.
His eyes seemed vacant, his clothes dark brown, hair disheveled, skin leathery brown, his bones stuck out and his smile was gone, his presence made known through your senses before you even saw him.
My curious boy… his eyebrows furrowed, his face filled with concern. Only 3 years old but he knew this wasn’t normal.
I didn’t know how to dig into his curiosity and I was tempted to ignore it and keep walking by (he was only 3, how much does he really understand?) However, my husband jumped in to save the day and asked him, “Do you have a question Bubba?” At only 3 years old he said “Why?” and pointed.
My husband went on to explain that he didn’t have a home and shared dialogue suited for his age. Day by day and question after question we continue the conversations on homelessness and 2 years later he has basic knowledge of the topic.
Living in the city you will encounter homeless people and although it’s tempting to develop temporary blindness and keep walking past them (I’ve totally been there) I want to encourage you to embrace the issue and learn more about it.
Here are a few tips to help you to embrace conversations on homelessness with your child.
1.) Invite Conversation
Usually, your child will notice a homeless person on the street. When you pass the person ask your child if he/she has any questions. “Do you have any questions about what we saw?”
If a child asks a question and you don’t know the answer it, that’s ok! You can explain that you will get back to them later. Then do follow up after you do your own research.
2.)Encourage Compassion and Empathy
Show kindness by extending a smile and or an act of kindness instead of a harsh stare or judgemental comment. Your little one will pick up cues from you.
3.) Speak Truth through Knowledge
Learn about the homeless issue in your city through your own research. It’s better to share facts than personal opinions and myths. (Homeless Awareness Day is November 8th!) There are great opportunities and resources about Miami through the Miami Dade County Homeless Trust.
4.) Act in Compassion
Let your good intentions turn into actions, here are a few ideas.
- Prepare Goodie Bags with your child and deliver it to homeless person in your area.
- Serve at a local food kitchen. Our family serves at Chapman Partnership for the Homeless on the 3rd Saturday of every month with Christ Fellowship Church. You’re welcome to bring your family and join us!
- Donate Clothes/Food/Toys to a shelter of your choice.
5.) Continue the Discussion
As your child grows you will be able to discuss topics as such in a more sophisticated manner, continue the discussion as your little one understands more and more.
What tips can you share with the online community? Leave them in the comments and let’s work together to love our city.
– Abby A