On April 10, forty people gathered at The Hamlin School for a rich discussion focused on parenting during stressful times. The world has always contained choppy waters, but current “challenges of our time” bring the turbulence of ecological disasters, school shootings, sexual harassment, institutional racism, and other ongoing events that erode our resilience.
Wanda M. Holland Greene and Nisa Frank led a profound conversation focused on parenting with perspective, reflection, and optimism.
Here are some of the core ideas that surfaced:
-There is a delicate balance between protecting innocence and having a child be ignorant.
-It is important to have a plan for discussing current events with your child.
-Turbulent times exist in the neighborhoods of some children.
-We must continue to ask questions about our own fears. Underneath our fear of school shootings is the idea that not everyone in our society is well. Rather than get into all of the specifics about shootings, we can lead from our value of “equity” and tell our children that there are unwell people with unmet needs.
-Rather than allowing fear to rule our thinking about homelessness, we can teach our children empathy, optimism, and compassion to act to help others.
-We can work to make small changes to help homelessness, rather than tackle the whole problem.
-When a turbulent event happens, speak with your child about it, or they will likely interpret that event through another source without your imprinted values.
-Parent from love, not from fear.
-Family meals are one of the antidotes to childhood stress, make time to bring your family together in community, even if it is only for 15 minutes.
–Ms. Holland Greene shared her “sandwich” for dealing with stressful events: values, limited facts, reassurance. Focus on your family values (compassion, love, empathy etc.), share information with your children that is age and stage appropriate (limit images and disturbing specific details) reassure your child that you are there for them.
For more advice on parenting during turbulent times, please visit the Child Mind website.