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Survival Stories: Words for a Pandemic

If you are a parent of young children, your parents might not have prepared you to grow up with a toolkit for surviving a pandemic. For many families with children, the last two months have been chock full of crazed adjustments lurching from solving one work, child, health, housing and financial problem after the next. Just as the fix is in on one problem, up pops another.

In other cultures and generations, parents prepared children for adversity with words and stories of hard-won survival and honorable loss. The purpose of these words and stories was to pass on values and expectations in the face of catastrophe.

Books and movies offer stories of integrity and resourcefulness in the face of trauma. How did Harriet Tubman find her way in the dark with no map? What caused Schindler to be so concerned for the safety of his workers? Why did Nelson Mandela reach out to his enemies? What impact did Cassius Clay/Muhammed Ali make when he refused to be drafted and changed his name? How do Hansel and Gretel escape?

Watching a survival movie or telling a story of others’ adversity is a great conversation starter for families who are numb with pandemic problems. Children need adults to give them the words to make sense of chaos and the stories to learn what survivors do.


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