Parenting 101 – Tropical Storm / Hurricane Isaac Edition

Many folks along the Gulf Coast, and even “up here” in Baton Rouge, are bracing ourselves for the impact of Isaac.  As any trip to a local gas station, hardware store, or Stuff-Mart right now will reveal, anxieties are building and boiling over throughout many of our communities.  Here are a few practical suggestions to help you lead your children and household calmly and confidently through the next few days, and any time tropical weather may be headed your way.

1. It is SO important to lead your children with calm steadiness at this time!  Don’t give in to the anxious urge to become panicky or short-fused, just because we “know what’s coming.”  This only serves to magnify deep uneasiness in our kids.  Take a breath, keep things in perspective, and remember they need you to keep your head on straight.  Whatever their age or level of maturity and independence, your kids need you to lead them well during times like this.

2. Have a plan.  Check out www.getagameplan.org for specific guidelines.  It’s a great resource!  Calmly discuss with your family what kinds of things they may experience during and after the storm, and have specific guidelines in place as to how you will respond to the challenges individually, as a family, and as a community.

3. Give each of the kids a responsibility.  Someone needs to be in charge of flashlights, ice, texting Grandma, etc.  When you give your children important responsibilities in the face of this kind of challenge, it empowers them greatly, and helps keep them from feeling scared and helpless.  Make them feel important by assigning them genuine responsibilities to help the rest of the family.

4. Prepare a Tropical Storm / Hurricane Sanity Survival Kit.  Everyone gets to contribute!  Fun snacks, games that don’t require electricity, favorite books, fun new books, cool magazines, disposable / digital camera(s), etc.  Tell everyone to imagine you had to be “cooped up” in the house for three or four days without electricity, and school and work would be cancelled.  What would you want to have in there to make it not only bearable, but even an enjoyable and memorable adventure?  Be sure to take a couple of pictures of your kit so you can share on Facebook or Pinterest, and so you won’t forget the best items next time tropical weather comes calling.

5. Take a break from news coverage!  Look, I love The Weather Channel and www.wunderground.com as much as the next guy.  But maintaining a steady diet of that stuff in the midst and aftermath of tropical weather is just not good for your mental or spiritual health, and certainly not for your children’s well-being.  And hey, you’ve got a really cool Storm Sanity Survival Kit all ready to go.  Get that sucker out and enjoy it!

6. Check in with your church, synagogue, or recovery community to find both assistance and opportunities to serve others.  Teach your kids the power of positive community and service to one another.  Let’s build a better family, town, state, and region through the opportunities that only crisis (or semi-crisis) provide.

Blessings to you and yours as you ride out the storm.

In His Grace,

Dr. Butner

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