More than a decade ago my husband, children and I returned from an out of state visit to find our finished basement filled with water caused by a terrible storm. The water had saturated our walls, furniture, electronics, and destroyed some of our most personal mementos. While we were sad to lose those special items and the cleanup inconvenienced our lives we had not been completely upended.
Victims of natural and other disasters have a large, uphill climb and those families who have been completely displaced, lack peripheral support, and are economically disadvantaged will feel it most. Homes, schools, and workplaces may have been destroyed or significantly affected, so it should come as no surprise that amongst the many things that will be tested will be a family’s coping skills. Some families may have suffered great losses, siblings may be staying in different locations, and for some of these children adherence to their medication or the threat of a serious reaction to an allergy may be just some of the issues parents are navigating.
When we are in a time of need it is imperative parents have trusted and helpful individuals they can lean on for support and guidance. Whether it’s a family member, friend, or faith-based organization these individuals or groups can play an important role in helping manage certain situations. Their comfort and support actually helps regulate our behavior and provides us with a sense of equilibrium and well-being. These healthy attitudes can create a positive trickle-down effect to our children and provide them with prosocial attitudes of faith, purpose, and determination. Suniya Luthar, PhD, a professor of psychology at Arizona State University explains, “If you want a child to be functioning well, tend to the person who’s tending the child.”
While parents and children will continue to be tested until their home life normalizes there are some step parents can take to mitigate the negative effects and help the family adapt: