Hug the Kids

In lieu of recent events in Portland and Connecticut, I would like to take a short detour from the course I had set out for the blog for this week.

I spent most of the day yesterday trying to decide if I should address this difficult issue or continue on with my planned blog series “ifree Holiday Wishes”. I decided that I had to blog, at least briefly, about the current headlines because of its effects on so many of the parents that I know and have interacted with since Friday.

We’ve shared our tears for the families touched by these tragedies. We’ve shared our personal fears about the “what ifs?” that begin to take over our minds during these tragic moments in history. And we’ve shared our feelings of utter disbelief and our lack of understanding of tragic events such as these. Many times we fully understand the complexities of human nature (and nurture) but still find ourselves asking “Why?”

While I do not have the answers to these questions, I can offer some advice for parents. First, keep the conversation going. This is how we begin to understand what is happening and why. It is also how we begin to heal as a community, as a nation, as a people. Second, stay comfortably aware and informed. I think of that saying “ignorance is bliss” and I understand its meaning during times like these. The less I hear about these tragedies via news streams such as radio, television, and print, the more distant I am allowed to feel from it. I often struggle with the amount and intensity of information/details that I take in and focus on because it can take over my thoughts and put me in a dark place. I then have to recognize my state of mind and work to change it. I encourage parents to try to find a personal balance between a reasonable awareness of the current events and becoming consumed by it to the point of fear or undue rage. This is also important for our children as well. Depending on the age and temperament of your child, parents may need to filter (to the degree that we are able to) what is seen, heard, read, and discussed by their children regarding these tragic events. Whenever necessary, I strongly encourage parents to do so. And finally, let tragedies like these inspire you to find a way to become part of the solution or at least part of the problem solving. I do not have a clear idea at this time of what the solution truly is but I can imagine that as parents, we must have something to do with it. At the very least, we can continue to give our children the best parenting we know. We must be informed about gun laws, mental health (child and adult), bullying and group dynamics, the various social dynamics our children are a part of, and the modern pressures of childhood and young adulthood. We must continue to be proactive parents, communicative parents, caring parents, loving parents, and supportive parents. We can not, and need not, do this alone. We must stay strong as a community of parents by supporting each other and our collective children.

So as we enter this holiday season and find ourselves in the company of other parents and children, I encourage you to engage in healthy, constructive conversation that constantly reminds us of our collective parenting mission. And most importantly, don’t forget to hug the kids, for they are the future.