I was at my home in the middle of work when I had heard of the children and adults that were killed and survived, and immediately turned on my television for clarity. I watched and listened to these news anchors reporting as quickly as possible, with welled up stares toward each other in order to complete a job, but with a look of wanting to abandon the post after compounding layers and layers of indescribable grief and pain. My attention turned immediately on my son and made arrangements to go pick him up from school. In times like these, a parent struggles with what to say, how to say it, or which way is the right foot forward to take. That evening, I brought my son home, and then immediately went to my room alone – and cried.
There is some insight for all parents in this, but first I have to comment as a fellow human among our culture. As a therapist I wondered how long it would be before there would be a “copycat” that would then seek to raise the bar in infamy after the sensationalized horrifying event that took the lives of those during the opening of movie. With the marketing of war video game fantasy, access to guns, greater acceptance and sensationalism of intolerance and personal political divisions in family relationships, and a culture that shames men in seeking mental/emotional support while undermining and positioning women to a “weaker” social ladder for being emotional and seeking common support…I wondered as to how long would it be for an individual who may feel socially fractured to lash out.
Indeed, I vented, “I’m sick and tired of individuals blaming others for what has been done wrong to them in life, then acting out revenge on the innocent. Individuals need to take courage to seek help for themselves vs taking this route of cowardliness.” I look back at my comment with sadness as a member or our own society, knowing as to how many men, women, teens, and children actually do try to seek help and support, while mostly receiving judgmental comments, eyeing services out of financial reach, feeling the blame, shame, and receiving hostility by others that willingly provide with social encouragement. Certainly, the finger can be pointed toward anyone, but the most influence in society we can provide is in the change of our own attitudes – to recognize that when others are effected, so are we; that when we improve and strengthen ourselves, give ourselves the priority of self-respect and health, that we improve our families, community, and society as a whole.
In short, the goal, then, would be to become one’s best self while in the service of others. An individualistic society aims the individual to feed its own ego to the belittling of others by focusing on who’s better, whereas a more community focused recognizes the individual as an appendage to the community and part of the fabric of others, and does not ignore the value and needs others require as part of one’s own community and future environment. Perhaps, most parents recognize this change in attitude when one feels this almost internal evolutionary shift to protect the child at all cost – our future society.
So where to go now as parents? Please read the following sites. They provide a brief and straightforward outline of reactions to this event, and other events in one’s life that occur that are anxiety provoking, stressful, and/or traumatic. As parent’s, we don’t always know what is right, or even give ourselves the grace to falter, but this quick read will hopefully provide comfort in how to speak with your children, what to look out for, what to do, and how to give oneself some grace. Be mindful.
Helping Your Family Cope with Anxiety and Stress by the Parent Encouragement Program:
Managing traumatic stress: Tips for recovering from disasters and other traumatic events:
Peace to you and your family and our children’s tender souls. – JoePin It