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Keep Them in the Loop

Andrea G. Schwartz
  • Andrea G. Schwartz,
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I recall the day vividly. It was New Year’s Eve. My husband, two daughters, and I were spending Dad’s day off at the movie theater. It was raining, as it had for the past few days, and I was sure that a cold was coming on since I had spent the previous days on a golf course with my daughter in the pouring rain. The movie was 101 Dalmatians and I was struggling to stay awake. So much so, that I had to hold my head up by placing my elbow on the arm rest to my side. As we were leaving the theater, I received a call on my cell phone from my son who reported that he had just been in a car accident. He gave me his location and we headed off to help him. It wasn’t an easy task as the accident had occurred on a busy expressway and there was considerable traffic due to the holiday.

About ninety minutes later, we agreed that I would take my daughters home while my son and husband accompanied the tow truck to the repair shop. I was about to begin my journey in the pouring rain when I got some pretty severe pains in my upper arms accompanied with a tightness in my chest. Not wanting to be irresponsible, I told my husband of my symptoms, and let him know that I didn’t think I should be driving. My husband wanted me to go to the emergency room right away in case something serious was going on. The girls were too young to drive and we agreed that my husband needed to accompany the tow truck and that our son should drive me to the hospital.

After the EKG and all the necessary tests were completed, and I was deemed low risk for a heart attack, the doctors concluded that the chest tightness was most likely from a cold and that the arm pain must have resulted from my use of the arm rests in the theater. My husband arrived at the ER just in time to hear the doctor’s conclusions. He was relieved that the news was good.

In the midst of all this turmoil, no one ever told my daughters what was happening. They were totally in the dark. When I walked in to the waiting room, I had three children with very different expressions on their faces and diverse understandings of what had gone on. My son’s face was a combination of guilt, worry, and horror still contemplating the reality that there was significant damage to the car and he might have given his mother a heart attack. My older daughter (then ten) looked agitated, bored, and fed up with the wait and wanted to know when we were going to get the pizza she’d been promised at the movie theater. The youngest (three) had a look of joy and expectation on her face, and asked with delight, “Mommy, where’s the baby?” sure that all hospital visits resulted in a new brother or sister!

This taught me a valuable lesson: just because we adults know what is going on, we should not assume our kids do. We do a disservice to them and complicate our situations by not keeping them informed. For example, current economic events have many adults perplexed and agitated about the future. If you do not take time to explain to your children what is going on, they cannot understand why you may be making some difficult choices. And, they lose an opportunity to help in some way.

To explain the situation to them, you have to understand the economic crisis yourself.* In these dark days, there are many Biblical lessons to be taught about money, economics, and God’s judgment on sin and so on. Use these trying times and your family financial planning to teach your children well so that they can learn from the sins of their grandfathers and fathers. Consider it a first step in reconstructing a Christian society.

* Books like Larceny in the Heart and the Politics of Guilt and Pity are fundamental to understanding our times.