Based on my children's past experience, I have tried to keep myself very healthy, so that they'd have no cause for alarm. Even when I was sick, I did tried not to make a big deal of it. Not that I was trying to keep the truth from them, but I didn't want to give them something real to worry about... ie: parents get sick, and then they die. I'm afraid that's all too common in Ethiopia, and other countries, where entire generations are being wiped out.
Lee stayed home from work on Friday, and was very sick with a head cold. When the kids got up, I told them that Daddy was home and that he was probably going to sleep for a long time. Yordanos said "Daddy sick, again, again, again? No work today, again, again, again? No food, then Yordanos and Habtamu..." then she made the "dead" face (head and arms back, tongue hanging out.)
I made sure to reassure them both many times that day that Daddy just had a cold, and would be ok in a couple of days. And that No, he won't be going to work tomorrow or Sunday or Monday (holiday), but that Tuesday he would go back. Yordanos then said "Tuesday work? Then no more work? Then Y & H (dead face)?" It breaks my heart that they have to worry about that... and that there are MILLIONS of children that don't have the chance that Y&H have now.
How do you all reassure your children in difficult times, or when times are uncertain? I won't lie to them, but I don't want to burden them with adult worries or cares.
[When we were at the Hilton in Addis Ababa, we had a HUGE language barrier, obviously, and one of the maids was helping us interpret. She was very kind, but when Yordanos told her that she was afraid to fly, the maid told her "Oh, you don't have to fly, you'll get into a big car, and I'll meet you there, and you'll get lots of candy." Um. Not helping. So we had to do damage control with someone else.]
Today, one of the windows in my car broke. Yordanos happened to be the one pushing the button at the time. She felt terrible and cried and would not be comforted. We kept trying to explain that it was not her fault, that we were not mad at her, that the car is old, and it could have happened to anyone. She calmed down after a bit and I told her again that (see above)...
How do you all get your children to not take on guilt that is not their own? (I had a huge problem with this until I was in my late 20s... I'd like to help them not have that burden.)