Guest post for Louise Hart's April newsletter
As the terrible news from Japan unfolds, we are learning a lot about nuclear energy. It’s a sophisticated, pollution-free energy source—until something goes wrong. Same thing with nuclear families, which are defined as a father, a mother, and their biological children, all living under the same roof. This definition of the “normal” family— with one parent (typically the dad) earning money and the other (typically the mom) running the household can, indeed, be a stable family unit that provides good energy in the world—if and only if all the “parts” are working.
But what happens when the world is rocked by some foreseen or unforeseen disaster? Earthquakes and tsunamis aside, the loss of a job, catastrophic illness, separation, substance abuse, or even a car accident can cause a nuclear family meltdown.
Has it happened to you? Many of us bear scars of disasters that happened to our families when we were children. Many of us have rebuilt lives after our own relationships fell apart. Many are trying to figure out what's next.
What we’ve learned as we've followed Japan’s nuclear crisis is how good planning can stop a disaster at any series of steps. When a Level One “anomaly” occurs, preventive measures are taken to keep the problem from escalating to an incident, an accident, or a Level Seven catastrophe. These are like the levels of intervention parents might take when (or even before) trouble arises.
What many concerned citizens are thinking is that safer ways to provide energy include decentralized power collection such as solar panels on city roofs and wind farms (where, even in the worst disasters, human and environmental harm is limited to the event). In families, most of us have found that "nuclear" is not the only way to raise kids—"post-nuclear" families come in all forms now, and happiness is available in them all.
Parents can ‘shore up’ for their family unit, whatever it might be, in the same way, by building in supports. A strong web of connections—with extended families, social networks (in person, not just online), strong school relationships, and good healthcare—can protect families from “core meltdowns” and thus protect children from physical and emotional disaster. Extend your family!
My mother is always willing to point out the fact that there are many trustworthy people—such as elders without grandchildren and singles who love kids—who could expand and enrich your family. When friendships are nurtured with attention and care, neighbors, coworkers and other parents can build win-win connections for everyone. Children are natural connectors!
Causes Kristen Caven Supports
350.org, IdleFreeOakland.org, Public Education, Public Radio, Department of Peace (ThePeaceAlliance.org), Planned Parenthood, Room to Read.