As parents, sometimes we learn the most about our roles when we don’t have the answers to questions that our children ask us.
At least that is what I learned when my family ended up homeless 2013.
How my family became homeless happened rather quickly. My husband and I had trouble finding jobs in Southern California. Then we fell behind on bills. Then we started selling furniture, and prized possessions, to keep from being homeless, but it wasn’t enough. We ended up cashing in the last of our 401K to pay for our things to be moved from San Diego to Houston, so that we could live with family.
Unfortunately, once we got to Houston, our family changed their minds about us living with them, and with the generosity of programs that helped homeless veterans, we were living in and out of hotels in Southeast Texas. This is where our preschool-aged son started asking us both questions that we couldn’t quite answer. “Why can’t things be like the used to be?” was the question he asked us every day with tears in his eyes.
We are a lot further than where we were in 2013. My husband and I both have jobs, our son is doing excellent in school, and we’re a stronger family unit as a result of our experiences. Here are three things we learned as parents as a result of our experiences:
1. Sometimes hugs are better than explanations
Homelessness is a pretty complex situation to explain to a child. Showing your child how much you love them is the best way to tell them that things are going to be fine. Sometimes a hug is what you both need to get through any tough situation with bravery.
2. Show your children, rather than tell them
During our period of homelessness, my husband happened to snag a job that immensely helped our dire situation. When my son found out, he started dancing and singing, “My daddy has a job!” He didn’t really know what it meant, but he saw daddy use his money to buy us things for our new apartment. Then he saw him buy him things for school. Then he saw him paying bills and rent. All he knew was that a job changed things, and our situation had a better ending.
There are times where it’s going to be better for you to show your children how to get through a tough situation, rather than telling them. Show them that every tough situation comes with a solution even the ones that make your future seem bleak.
3. You are enough for your children
On Friday nights, when my husband and I were thinking of things we could do together that were cheap and within our slim budget, our son often wondered where he fit into that equation. Was daddy going to go to take him to the park, or eat pizza with him? Were we watching movies together?
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Your face, your smile, and your presence is enough for them. They don’t need money, and they don’t need things they just need you. Once you figure out that you are enough for your child, you’ll find that your relationship with your child will grow.
What have you learned from your children while overcoming a tough situation?