If you are like me, you were ever hopeful, yet hesitant, that ringing in a new year would be a year for change in the right direction – that progress was being made. But as we watched events unfold during this past week, we realized that it was going to be another emotionally and mentally draining year. Anger. Frustration. Shock. Dismay. These feelings quickly replaced and overcame my will to be hopeful. For our sanity, we turned off the TV. I went for a run. Then, my husband and I reconvened and talked about how we would handle the events. We quickly agreed that as a parent, we cannot be silent.
We are raising an almost four year old who is sensitive to peoples’ emotions. She notices quickly if someone is upset and immediately wants to offer a consoling hug. Our daughter often plays out scenarios that she sees or reads about in her books, with her growing collection of stuffed animals. She is a natural nurturer.
Looking at her, we knew that as parents, we don’t have the luxury of closing our eyes. As a parent, we cannot be silent.
In the past 12 months, we have been parenting through a pandemic, changes in school and work schedules, political strife, and the realization that there are still so many things wrong in how some of our citizens are being treated. The most exhausting is that people have grown quite apathetic and indifferent to all these matters.
After Wednesday, my initial reaction was to turn everything off and close my eyes to the willful ignorance of some of the people in our country. But as a parent, we cannot be silent. Children ask questions. They want to know why people are so unhappy and so angry. As a young adult, I could let myself fade into the background because I naively felt that my opinion was just that, an opinion.
But as a mother, we are constantly being watched. Our actions are imitated. Our reactions to events are noted and often expressed by our children. We are shaping the next generation. As a parent, we cannot be silent.
So, what are the next steps? What can we do, as adults, to help our children process everything that has been going on for the past several months and eventually shocking most of our nation this week?
Process your own emotions.
The most difficult, but most important step is to process your emotions. It’s important to begin thinking about how you are addressing events. Children are watching. They are learning. They are looking to you to explain how they should process their own emotions. Find a moment to collect yourself and decide how you are going to move forward.
Talk about it.
Use age-appropriate language, but talk about it. It is a maternal instinct to want to protect our children. We want them to stay young and protect them from seeing any sort of conflict in the world. But having that mentality, it’s a disservice to them. For younger children, find books that might help them to understand. We often use stuffed animals to play out conflict and resolution. For older children, encourage them to talk about current events.
Acknowledge your privilege.
We were born with privilege. But we were also raised to know that one should use that privilege to do good. I am acutely aware that my husband and I are raising our daughter in a position of privilege. She will not have to face the obstacles that some of her peers may experience solely on her appearance. She will have access to opportunities that others might struggle to take a step towards reaching. With these opportunities, it is her responsibility to use that privilege to do good.
Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves.
It is our responsibility to speak up; to find the words. We need to learn to be advocates for those who need one. The easy road is to stay in your comfortable space, but it’s a much tougher road to speak up for those who are being mistreated.
Be kind to one another and decide what we can do as a collective society to move forward this year.
We want to continue being a resource for all moms in Louisville, so please reach out to us if you need additional support as we navigate through this year.