A friend asked yesterday how we help our kids handle the things that they know about and see where we live. I thought I'd share my response to her here, too:
The main thing that we've pointed out to our kids is that this isn't the way G0d intended it to be. J said, "The poor will always be with us," because He knew the sin nature. But in the O.T. going into the promised land if they'd followed all of the law there wouldn't have been any poverty. So when our kids are feeling angry about things they see, they know where to pin the blame.
My mom has always said that when we asked difficult questions as kids that she'd listen and answer whatever it was we were ACTUALLY asking. Without adding a lot of extra information from the adult perspective. That way we learned as we were processing the questions at our own rate without being overwhelmed. So when they want to know more about something here that's what we do.
But kids are quite adaptable too when they need/want to know! When we were in NZ before coming here our then 6 year-old was having a long chat with a European tourist somewhere. When he walked back over and we asked what they'd been talking about he nonchalantly said, "Oh, I was just telling her all about the prostitutes we're going to go help." Wonder what that lady thought!
Since being here he has realized more of what his conversation was really about, but he still doesn't know it all. And he still has days of being upset because no one should have to live like people he sees and knows.
I think it's awesome that our kids aren't afraid of the poor, though, and that they see human beings with a soul sitting on the side of the road, not just the circumstances. I think that's the key: that each person has a face.