WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Parents often struggle whatthe right way to set limits for their kids.How much TV is OK?How about online video games?How late can they stay out with their friends?It can also be tough to know how to answerthe children's pointed questions about theworld.Tonight, also part of our Canvas series, authorKaren Russell shares her Humble Opinion mychildren need to hear the truth.KAREN RUSSELL, Author, "Orange World and OtherStories": The first morning I took my 2-year-oldto day care, I arrived with a box of carefullylabeled blankets and extra clothes, enoughdiapers, I felt, to last him until college.
I was so anxious, I almost didn't notice theolder man lying on the snowy ground besideus.Shards of glass haloed his bare head.My son looked up to me, the satellite tower,waiting to receive my signal.What did I make of this grandfather sleepingin rags on concrete?Was this normal?Was I concerned?Should he be?How do we tell the story of suffering to ourchildren?Some people might advise, don't say a word,lady.It's way too early.A parenting Web site told me to shift thefocus from the stranger's pain to my son'ssecurity.First and foremost, you must reassure yourchild that they are safe.
That reassurance is getting harder to givein Oregon, where homelessness is on the riseand the Department of Education reported arecord number of homeless students.I understand the impulse to reassure our kidsthat nothing is wrong, to say, it's very sadthat some people don't have homes, but youare safe.This is a ghost town of a sentence.Who is the subject?Even the feeling of sadness is floating thereunclaimed.Children hear the passive voice.
Unless we give ourselves an active role toplay in these unfolding crises, kids willabsorb our quiet acceptance of the statusquo.They won't know that we can be agents forchange, or even that change is possible.When I was growing up, my parents drove myfriends and I to volunteer at a shelter fiveminutes by car and worlds removed from ourMiami home.I can't recall a word they said to me now,but I do remember my father sharing a cigaretteand laughing with a homeless veteran.I remember my mom helping another woman withher groceries.
My parents reassured me that I wasn't crazyto feel disturbed that there were kids myage who had no permanent home.Something was wrong.But there was also something to be done.The world our children inherit is deeply unjust.And they know it.We need to show them that we have the powerto revise it.Somewhere tonight, a mother is explainingto her children why they have to leave theirhome for a shelter, why they are sleepingin their car, why they no longer have a bedto dream on.She doesn't have the luxury of curating herwords or shielding them from the most painfultruths.I wonder how she is answering their questions.
Sources of article: