Sophisticated Living Indianapolis

MAY-JUN 2018

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Page 31 of 143

I think all parents struggle with how to protect their kids from life's crueler truths without excessively coddling them. My wife, Jen, and I faced an issue recently that has me pondering this particular parenting dilemma. e health of our beloved old dog, Emmy, failed suddenly one Friday night. We had come home from dinner at friends and she wasn't herself. Our tiny pomapoo seemed frightened and disorientated. She was walking in circles and visibly trembling. We didn't know what to think: stroke, seizure, heart attack? We couldn't calm her down or comfort her. Surely something happened while we were gone. When there's a crisis in the family, even the most reasonable parents can differ about how much their offspring need to know, and what they ought to be insulated from. Sometimes the adults would like a bit of time and space to process what they're grappling with before helping their kids deal with the situation. But life's problems are one of the best tools for preparing adolescents to be grownups. People of my generation were routinely spared some of the less palatable facts of life. Why, I'm not exactly sure. Maybe our parents had lived through so much they felt the need to shield their children from some of life's harder lessons, hanging on to the kind of optimism that made this country great in the first place. Maybe they just didn't see the reason for dragging us down when they didn't have to. When I was about 10, a tornado came close to our house. My father—a remarkable, unstoppable man—ushered my mother, my little sister and me into a closet and calmly reassured us that the storm would pass over. It was wonderful to hear, of course, but I was mightily confused the next day when I spotted shingles ripped from the roof by...the tornado. Jen and I have discussed how to handle life's tornadoes over the years. We've brought the kids into the real world when it's been age-appropriate. Our adorable dog gave us another one of those opportunities that Friday night. Emmy, who ordinarily slept most of the day and crashed hard on our bed at night, barely slept. She sat up, shaking. We found out later from the vet that she was in excruciating pain. We knew this tornado was going to hit, hard and fast. Jen and I chose to protect our children, by making the decision to put Emmy down. But we weren't going to mislead them. We decided that the four of us would go together when the inevitable time came that next morning. At Broad Ripple Animal Clinic, I told the kids that any of the four of us were free to leave the room if we wanted to. Ultimately, no one did. I don't think there's a right or wrong. As parents and adults, we need to make those calls and do what's best for our own families. Jen and I have raised two pretty bright children who we're very proud of. And to us, this decision felt right. After all, we want our kids to be ready when those tornadoes come. Jeffrey Cohen From the Editor-in-Chief 30

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