“Hi Robyn; We’re fine. It missed us by 2 street blocks. We’re fine, our houses are fine. So sorry we weren’t able to call or text during the storm. We love you guys.”
In the recent past, I’ve written articles about how to talk to children about horrifying events such as the SandyHook, Connecticut shooting and The Boston Marathon bombing. In both articles, while incredibly concerned, I was not touched personally by the tragedies. I had lived in Boston for many years (I received my PhD from Tufts University near Boston) and made many friends there—but nobody I knew had attended the marathon and all were perfectly safe during the tragedy.
Yesterday, a massive tornado hit Moore, OK. I couldn’t believe it when I saw the name in the news. Moore? I have a deep personal tie to Moore. Both my children were born there. Both of their adoptions took place in Moore. And most significantly, the birth family of both my children still live in Moore. Their birth mother, their birth father and their birth grandmother.
Many of you who are constant, devoted readers of my parenting site know that we have an open adoption plan with my children’s birth family. This is not just on paper. We are extremely close with the birth family—so much so that none of us regard each other as “birth family” and “adoptive family” (I only use those names here to avoid confusion)—we just call each other family.
I am so happy to report that our family members in Moore are all safe. The message on the top of this article was left by our children’s birth grandmother. We have been in contact over the last 2 days and while our whole family had quite a scare, they got out of the storm unscathed. The tornado passed 2 miles away from my kids’ birth father’s house and a ¼ mile from his girlfriend’s place of work. He was holed up in a bank vault for safety while my kids’ birth mother took refuge in a Walmart with a hundred other people. The kids’ birth grandmother literally drove herself away from the oncoming storm. The whole thing is beyond scary.
The experience has given me a more nuanced perspective of how to talk to children about frightening events such as this tornado in Oklahoma. Since my children (especially my 4 year old) know about the storm and how it affected our family, it is from this perspective that I write my tips today.
(1) Ensure your children know that this tornado is not a threat to their safety: “Is the tornado coming here” my daughter wondered? Sometimes just saying; “no, it’s all done” is enough. Other times, for the very curious child, this may be a good for a little weather lesson. You can say; “Just Read more