Talking About Homelessness With Children

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Brenda Schultz
Friday, April 1, 2011

I saw her out of the corner of my eye as my daughter was “pretending” to ride the arcade motorcycle. She was an older lady with a backpack on her back, and she began putting her fingers into the coin return slots in each of the arcade games furthest from us. She had a certain look about her and it took me about 3 seconds to figure out what she was doing, and another 3 seconds to decide to put some of my own coins in the arcade machine closest to me for her to find. I wasn’t fast enough, though. She came up empty handed with all of the game machines in that room. I didn’t get my coins out quick enough to put them in a coin return slot, so I just offered them to her. “Here you go.” I said, smiling. She shook her head no with the telltale signs of a hard life on her face.

I know that giving her coins isn’t the answer, but I hoped that my offer helped her to feel less “invisible” in that few seconds…

I know there is a homeless situation in virtually every town and city in our country. My daughter is aware that some people don’t have a home because we’ve helped to make food for the GIFTS Men’s Homeless Shelter in Janesville. We’ve not served the meals to those who use the shelter, though. That will come when she’s a bit older. I know there are as many different reasons why someone is homeless as there are homeless people. This has been a topic of discussion with my daughter, although a very simple discussion to match her 3 ½ year old cognitive abilities.

What are some ways that you discuss this, and similar situations with your children? What ways are you and your family involved in helping?

Last updated: 10:44 am Wednesday, August 28, 2013

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