A question about kids...

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I'm a single dad, full-time, to a 9 year old son. He's heard me talk to others about y2k, seen me starting to prep... but I really haven't sat down and figured out a way to explain things to him. I don't want to scare the sh**t out of him, but at the same time, I want him to be ready for what I expect to be on the 5-7 range as measured around here, provided nothing else but y2k hits the fan....

Today he was playing on the net, then looked at me and asked "if y2k is going to turn off our power, how is our computer going to work?"

They have big ears....

Any suggestions how to prep the little ones for this... how have those of you that have younger kids gone about getting them ready emotionally?

I also have two teens that don't live with me, been slowly feeding them info, trying to get them to pressure their mom into taking some precautions, although my plan at the moment is to have a "late" Christmas with them this year, and have them with me during rollover.. if things look bad, well, I'll take them back when things clear up... or not.

Serious answers from GI parents please...

-- Carl (clilly@goentre.com), July 25, 1999


Gee Carl....I was headed to bed, but, let me begin by saying my youngest son is 9 also. I simply picked the moment and created the conversation. He got it right away. I used the broken computer pitch, but he pressed for more detail. I explained the problem with the year and the difference from all previous years. His response was, "Well that was pretty stupid". Yup. He also asked if people would have heaters because some people might get really cold, might even die! I acknowledged each concern and addressed them by providing our solution for each of his concerns. He began to realize we were going to have many bases covered. I avoided the severe crisis scenerios, and attempted to suggest most people would take precautions.....he's only nine after all. He still cries during Benji movies! His immediate concerns were dealt with, he didn't feel left out of the loop any longer and he was now participating in a family game plan, as one of the team. We are careful about what is said. There may be several stages of continued conversations, we'll just take it as it comes. Don't brush off any questions. You know your son better than others, each child is different. Nobody wants their children to EVER be frightened, avoid it at all costs, the time may come when it is unavoidable, but that time is not here yet. Some children are more easily upset than others. Concern is a way of searching for solutions, do your best to provide them! Hope this helps.

Good night!

-- Will continue (farming@home.com), July 25, 1999.

Good morning, Carl.

Some good advice from Will continue. I don't currently have kids at home -- 3 sons have been raised, are off on their own, and may be coming for a long visit over this holiday season. We always made it a practice to be as honest as possible with these guys as they were growning up - even when what we had to say wasn't what they wanted to hear.

A nine year old can adjust to reality very well, thank you. What is needed is the reassurance that they still have love and a caring parent. It seems you're providing that. You might want him to help......solicit his inputs on what he thinks should be set aside for use if things go south. Get him involved. As the two of you work together he'll see that you guys are looking out for for future together. As he raises issues that concern him - and not being able to use the computer is just the surface - answer him honestly. He can get over not being able to use the computer, but let him see that you're prepared for the things that would frighten him.

Above all else, encourage him to ask questions, and not to stuff anything.

Good luck.

-- de (delewis@Xinetone.net), July 25, 1999.

I'm not going to tell my kids about this until whatever happens is evident.

I explained to my kids what they NEED TO KNOW. This included how to find and use our food/water reserves if I was not around or able to help them. I tought them how to pick fruit and not to drink dirty water, etc.. Basic stuff.

Other than that I'd say it's a mistake to inform kids that are under age 7 or so about this. They have a lot of fears already and they really can't do anything about the situation like I can.

-- Bryce (bryce@seanet.com), July 25, 1999.

Nobody knows what is going to happen. As parent, though, you need to be sure that you have the basics: 1) water, 2) food and 3) shelter.

In terms of what to tell the kids, I can't imagine a "single correct answer". I think like sex and Santa Claus, the specific depth and timing varies from family to family.

-- Anonymous99 (Anonymous99@Anonymous99.xxx), July 25, 1999.

This site was designed for girls (I know, "ewww"), but your son might find it interesting and informative.

Girl Scout's Y2K Page

-- Mommacares (harringtondesignX@earthlink.net), July 25, 1999.

It's important to let kids know how bad things are going to get. Much like everything else, if you don't prepare them NOW, it will only get MUCH MUCH worse when Y2K actually hits. The last thing you want is panicking kids when you have to deal with STAYING ALIVE. Tell them NOW and prepare them. If they panic/cry/whatever, it's best that it happen NOW rather than LATER.

-- (Prepare@now.please), July 25, 1999.

I am a "retired" mom, (raised four), and I am thinking/imagining what I would be doing if they were still "younguns"...

First, I would get all the "good-old-days" kids books that I could, (like the "Little House On The Prairie" books) and read them to him, with lots of conversation about his grandparent's and great-grandparents happy lives, doing it all for themselves, etc...

I would be positive about how we always have to be prepared for sudden storms, depressions, etc... that this is a part of living, and that many of his forebears have met these challenges and lived happy fulfilling lives... different kinds of fun, different talents, sharing wisdom, etc...

Get him thinking about what kind of a boy he would have been if he had grown up during different times, what old-time skills he would have wanted to be good at, and what old-time skills he might want to explore/develop just for the fun of it now... There are lots of books available at the local library on these (Foxfire might be a place to start...

Have him make up lists of things he might want to have in his own cache, and go to garage sales, etc to hunt for "treasure"...

The basic idea is to help him look at the potential for radical change as a part of what makes life interesting, and not as scary.

This will help you too, get you interested and optimistic about meeting the future with flexibility, optimism, and enthusiasm, no matter what it brings.

Good Luck to you and yours...

Jackie Joy, the ever-lurking housemouse


-- housemouse (jgj@nevermind.net), July 25, 1999.

Good info from Will continue - of course. I have twins who are ALMOST 12 plus an older boy who is ALMOST gone. -g-

They have known I am a Y2K nutcase for a long time, so we occassionally discuss an article or I will alert them when a soundbite is on TV. I have taken advantage of power outages to discuss Y2K, and the most important thing I have done so far is to have a practice Y2K lights-out weekend... back in February I think.. yup.. President's BD weekend. I wanted to have at least one practice session during the winter. Hope to have another session this summer and then do another one in the fall. The practice session was VERY IMPORTANT for us I think. There were grumbles from all sides of course. What! No TV! No Video games! But the mood changed and calmed down pretty quickly. It gave us an opportunity to practice different ways of cooking without the electric stove.. *play* with alternate lighting.. and find different rhythms to daily life.

The first 24 hours I ONLY shut off the electricity (and even then I cheated and didn't shut off the electricity to the garage where the chest freezer is - though the frige in the kitchen was out). That went so well that the second day we shut off the water. (seems this might not be too unrealistic.. backup generators may allow water for a while until that too is lost) I had filled some buckets with water for flushing toilets and of course we had bottles of drinking water. A longer outage would have needed different skills, but at least it made us practice "camping" ways of keeping bodies and dishes clean.

At the end of the second day we called it quits because it seemed we had learned quite a lot already - and we all wanted to watch Stargate -vbg-. BTW - during the practice session we had kept a list of everyone's ideas. Things we learned, things we still needed to buy, tips on organization... whatever.

I can't stress the importance of practice sessions too strongly. They allow you to practice different ways of cooking, cleaning, lighting, and just amusing yourselves. And it will show your kids very clearly that Dad has this situation well in hand. Relate it to fire drills at school. These don't terrify kids.. rather they learn automatic behaviors so that in the case of a real fire they do NOT panic. If the lights DO go out 1/1/2000 the last thing you need is a screaming kid bugging you to get the TV/computer/video games fixed.. while you are trying to remember where the flashlights are.

-- Linda (lwmb@psln.com), July 25, 1999.

This is a great idea, Linda. Regular, consistent practice drills are VERY IMPORTANT. You should also have them more often as we get closer to January 1 as this will reinforce the behaviors. Most importantly, NO CHEATING. You won't be able to cheat when Y2K hits and you DON'T want to reinforce THAT behavior or else you're back to square one where they're whining about their video games! By December, these drills should be WEEKLY at least, and some should last multiple days. And don't forget the usual warnings - don't answer the door, don't talk to the neighbors, etc. Don't put your family at risk!!!

-- (Prepare@now.please), July 25, 1999.

Jackie Joy - yes, those books about the "old times" are a great idea, and I have done that too.

One in particular is "The American Boys Handy Book" first published in 1882 (I think there is a girls version too, but not sure).

Also, the Boy Scout handbooks (even if your son is not in scouts yet) and the Field books.

Look at video stores or the library for appropriate movies like the Little House series or Huckelberry Fin or any others that deal with pre-electric life. Look at local museums for glimpses into the past - if possible back to what the Native Americans in your area were doing... how they lived without ANY of our modern conveniences.

Watch (or inquire at Natural History museums) about any Living History places or events anywhere close to you. These can be a fun way to get a mental picture of how life can go on without electricity (should that become necessary).

You don't have to keep harping on Y2K (though I don't think you should avoid it altogether) in order to give your child some mental pictures or actual practice with ways of living without electricity. Make it an adventure, make it fun, and then when the subject of Y2K comes up you can be reassuring about the plans you have made and see if there is anything your son feels has not been addressed (i.e. let him be a part of the plans if he so chooses). Remember, any preparations you make for Y2K are also preparing you for any other emergency... even something as simple as job loss. There are worse things than growing up with a habit of always being prepared for hard times... just in case. Maybe that's why the Boy Scouts made it their motto.. there most important thing to always remember... BE PREPARED.

Speaking of which... Jesse Ventura was supposedly enrolling the Boy Scouts in his efforts to get communities prepared. Has anyone heard anything about that lately?

-- Linda (lwmb@psln.com), July 25, 1999.

Prepare@now.please... NO CHEATING??? Darn. You mean I can't get up early to get my hot shower before I shut off the power and water!!


-- Linda (lwmb@psln.com), July 25, 1999.

after TSHTF and there's no more social services.tell them what's happened.If they cry,exercise your new found parental powers/responsibility and beat them 'till they stop crying.It's better for the race for the weak to die off quickly.

-- apokoliptik (apokoliptik@anyday.now), July 25, 1999.

Great answer about practicing!

One of the things that has caused this whole Y2k mess is too uch specialization, compartmentalization of knowledge and skills. Whatever happens, you will do your son a great favor to help him gain skills and learn the parts of a simple economy. Read him Laura Ingalls Wilder's FARMER BOY, which goes through a whole year on an Upstate New York farm in the last century. You will both enjoy it...and I never had any idea of how difficult things like making shoes were! All sorts of things are addressed- food growing , storage and prep, animals, how much youngsters worked, not to mention adults (!), dealing with bullies, pleasures and difficulties, how much one has to eat to keep warm without central heating, etc. etc.

Every skill and tool your son learns will help you all, and not just if the world goes TEOTWAWKI, but also if it doesn't, because sooner or later this culture's blindness about the consequences of some of its technology and social policy in the pursuit of profit WILL cause major imbalances. Balanced people are a necessary antidote.

-- seraphima (seraphima@aol.com), July 25, 1999.

Thank you all for some very good input... gave me a lot to think about, including preps for his emotional well being, as opposed to focusing on the basics of food, water, warmth, etc., The books suggestions were great. One of my son's favorite books was one called "My Side of the Mountain", along the same genre as some of the suggestions.

Again, thanks for the serious replies, with the exception of the one post above, which I hope was a rather dark attempt at humor..

-- Carl (clilly@goentre.com), July 25, 1999.

Kids, IMHO, want to be assured that their parents have it under control and that they will be alright. So- I would emphasize that while you are concerned, you will do what is needed to ensure that your family will have food and heat and whatever else you need.

At 9, he is still rather egocentric- focused mostly on his own needs- as is normal. Would not bring up issues related to things you have no control over- China, Nukes, russia, etc- just related to your own house, town, school and family and friends-

also- be sure to have stuff around for him to do if no power- books, crafts projects, hobby stuff, etc- nothing worse than a whining kid missing his favorite tv fix when you're already stressed. If your kid is big on TV, videos, etc- try TV/video free weeks NOW in advance. Also- go camping, fishing, etc if you don't already do that.

Just be easy about how you aproach him with this stuff- don't know if you remember- probably do- the air raid drills in school when we were kids- under the desks, in the hall with our heads down, etc- total fear of attack with no ability to defend ourselves- not good IMO. So- would stress that while you are concerned, you have it under control and will keep him safe.

-- farmer (hillsidefarm@drbs.net), July 25, 1999.

Carl...my son will turn 9 in about 3 weeks. he has been a gi for about 4 months,and my preps and conversations about the latest news have become just another regular part of this family's life. he shops with me for preps, has his own list of what he wants in his bob bag, helps me with the garden. he has taken the whole thing in stride and his only worries seem to center on the grands and cousins who all live in the city. we have even gone as far as to have him start looking into xmas gifts that he can enjoy without electric. we have a large collection of childrens books already and a good stash of jigsaw puzzles that we work on as a family, so we are already used to spending many hours without tv or computer for entertainment. I have stocked extra batteries for his gameboy so that he will still be able to play his favorite games occasionally. all of this to him is an adventure and i believe he will end up keeping us older ones, who have had many more years of the cushy life sane! if you approach it with honesty, and on the level he can understand you will be pleasantly surprised how well it can be received. much luck!

-- kitten (kitten@vcn.net), July 26, 1999.

My older daughter just turned 10. She's been helping with preps for over a year. We talk about y2k often. She's frustrated at times that her friends parent's don't get it. She's asked about people dying and we've discussed that its possible, but NO ONE KNOWS just what will happen. She doesn't seemed unduly concerned - no crying, no giving up. When she becomes worried, I tell her "That's why you have parents, to worry about things like this for you!" It's put her mind at ease so far. They are children, after all. My six year old, on the other hand, has also heard about y2k for over a year and could care less. I think that if you show your children your love and concern, and preps, most kids should be fine with it. And that's exactly why I'm so concerned - so I can keep my family feed, warm and watered in the coming months, if necessary.

-- Gail (fialkow@erols.com), July 26, 1999.

Well, I got a chance to try out some of the excellent advice I've gotten from your posts this morning, with good results. The Emergency Broadcast System test cut into his cartoon show again this morning while he was having breakfast and I was getting ready for work. He exclaimed "They keep doing this in the best parts of my show. What is the Emergency Broadcast System and how come they are doing this all the time in my show?"

Well, I explained what it was, and how this was just another example of being prepared, and how if there was an emergency, flood, earthquake, y2k, etc., it would be used to give people instruction what to do to protect themselves, etc.,. He took it all in stride, except for a comment about why they couldn't test someother time instead of in the middle of "Beast Wars"... no answer to that...

Got me thinking tho, it does seem the EBS is testing a LOT more frequently in the last month or so. Has anyone else noticed this in their areas? I rarely recall seeing tests, maybe a couple of times a year, and usually not in the 7-9 AM time frame. It's happened at least 3 times this month, and on channels showing children's programming.

-- Carl (clilly@goentre.com), July 26, 1999.

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