Talking about homelessness can be difficult no matter who you’re speaking with, but talking about it with your kids can be even more challenging. The fact is, however, that we all need to work together to help those in our community who are homeless, and that means including children in this conversation. While every parent should adjust the way they talk to their kids about this topic based on their age and personality, the following tips can help you to navigate these conversations more effectively:
Teach Them Empathy
The problem of homelessness is always complicated, and the various things that cause someone to become homeless can be difficult to talk about, especially with children. No matter what, however, it’s always important to start the conversation with empathy. Always ensure your children understand that people experiencing homelessness are just that: people, regardless of whatever may have led to them losing their homes in the first place.
Inspire them to Take Action
Talking to kids about homelessness is important, but taking action is even better. When discussing this subject with your kids, work with them to come up with concrete things that you can do as a family to help. For example, making ‘care packages’ that contain food or other essentials that can be given out to the homeless is a great idea. Saving money to donate blankets, socks, or other needed items is another great idea. It’s never a bad time to give, and there are so many ways people of all age groups can support creating affordable housing for those in need.
Discuss Safety Appropriately
When talking about how important it is to do all we can to help the homeless members of our community, it’s also important to discuss ways to do this safely. Remind your kids that while we always want to treat everyone, including those experiencing homelessness, with dignity and respect, they are still strangers and just like any strangers, children should be sure to interact with them with trustworthy adults present.
Keep the Conversation Going
Discussing homelessness shouldn’t be a one-time conversation that you have and then never bring up again. Working the topic of homelessness into your everyday conversations in a way that’s natural will help to keep this important issue on the minds of your kids. Of course, you always want to do this in a productive and age-appropriate way that will help inspire them to do their part to help those who need it. If you ever need help or want ways to volunteer, please learn more about CASA and what we do for our community.