The disappearance of the MH370 plane. The sinking of the Korean ferry. The fighting and bloodshed in the Middle East. The crash of the MH17 plane. And now, the Taiwan TransAsia Airways plane crash.
Almost every day we hear of disasters, destruction and deaths around the world. Yet here in Singapore, our kids are sheltered from the cries of those who are facing these crises. Though it is a blessing that Singaporeans experience general peace and stability, it is easy for our children to become complacent and apathetic to the pressing needs of those around them.
How can we, as parents, do our best to make sure this does not happen?
When news of disasters comes on, refrain from thinking that our kids are too young to feel for the victims or do anything about it. Sometimes, even young children can surprise us with their amazing capacity for compassion.
Here are some practical things that you can do with your children:
+ Use this time to engage them in age-appropriate conversations about the frailty of life, the suffering that goes on in this world, and the need to help others
+ Allow them to share their own thoughts and feelings on the current situation and think about the kinds of difficulties the victims might be facing.
+ Challenge them to think of ways they can offer help – saying a prayer for those affected or contributing a little of their savings to fundraising efforts.
+ If possible, they can even write notes of encouragement to the victims and their families. Previously the Korean Embassy in Singapore set up a memorial halls for the victims of the Sewol ferry disaster where visitors were free to pay their respects. Going to such memorial halls with your children is another option in showing solidarity and compassion with those who grieve.
In closing, it is important to note that we ourselves should also set a good example by showing genuine empathy for these people in need. For example, embarking on a mini project to raise funds as a family would not only serve as good bonding time, it would also give our children a firsthand view of what it means to lend a helping hand. International aid agencies like World Vision and Salvation Army provide trustworthy avenues for donations raised to be duly sent to affected countries.
As Singapore celebrates 49 years of growing prosperity and efficiency, let us also be known as a nation which shows increasing compassion for our neighbouring countries. And this has to start from the young, the future generation of Singapore.
Editor’s note: Our hearts and thoughts are with the families of those who are grieving and have lost loved ones. Should you know of someone who needs help dealing with grief, Focus on the Family Singapore has trained, professional counselors who are able to journey through your loved one. Please call us at 6336 1444 for more details.