Last night I came home late, everyone was sleeping already, I crawled quietly into bed, hid my head under the covers and just cried. I don't exactly know why, and it didn't matter, there were feelings building up, worries for my children, a mounting burden of concerns that needed to flow out of my body to make space for love again. I sometimes think that I can solve more than I can, or I find myself scheming what else I should be doing to help build a more peaceful world. When I ask the question, the answer always comes back to me, "stay the course, keep doing what you're doing".
My heart goes out to all of us, to all of humanity, in this turbulent time.
This is a challenging chapter of history to be parenting in, I'm guessing it's felt similarly at many points in time, for different reasons. I find that after a large traumatic story hits the news my inbox receives a surge of messages from concerned parents trying to navigate in light of the recent news. Questions like, "how can I myself make a difference so my children inherit a better world?" or "how do I help my children to understand what is going on?" and concerns like, "my daughter is suffering more anxiety attacks since hearing.......how can I help her?".
I wear these cuffs to remind me what I'm doing, and why that matters. 'Peaceful Warrior' reminds me that there is clarity, aim, and commitment needed to do my part in guiding in more peace into our world - one family at a time. 'We Are One' presences me to the fact that we all belong to the tribe of humanity, we may look differently on the outside, we may think differently, we may live in very different realities, and that said we all feel pain, joy, desire, we are all of this earth. We all want a world for our children to grow up and thrive in. And we're all responding to our current situation with our best attempt to get our human needs met.
So, how do we parent in this wild world? How do we, or don't we, share the latest awful news, with our children? When there is no way to shelter them from the horrid truth of things, how do we guide them in a way that makes them stronger, and not more depressed, hopeless, and riddled with anxiety?
It is said that Crazy Horse would only lead the men who could cry, into battle because he knew them to be the most trustworthy, he knew them to be the strongest men. The men that could cry had a means of purifying themselves of the trials of being a warrior.
There is great wisdom in this advice, wisdom that we collectively lost somewhere along the way when we began parenting our boys to 'stuff it'.
There are no added benefits to exposing a young child to the mass media coverage of one horrible assault on humanity after the next. There are too many children who are suffering first hand. When we are able to provide a childhood free of the horrors of this world, which is what I believe every parent wants, our children grow with a sense that the world is good. Humanity is good. When they are older they have a sense that there is hope and something worth working towards, there is beauty to return to when things get hard. This will be the inner feeling that they carry as they mature and enter into a knowing of all the complexities present in their young adult life. We need young adults who have a sense of beauty, and goodness, to continue moving humanity towards.
And you know what? It's true! This is a beautiful world, filled with precious humans with beautiful hearts and there is, indeed, so much to keep moving towards.
I advise keeping our homes a safe haven, free from the news, free from the searing images, free from adult conversation and drama surrounding each episode of violence. Make your home a place of love to retreat to at the end of the day. Be clear and steadfast in that intention. As the holidays are approaching, maybe take some time to get clear on what your intention for celebration-table conversation is, tip it to joy, lead the conversation swiftly back to joy if it should veer towards the tragic!
When our children are a bit older and they are reading the headlines in the newsstand and talking to people out and about in their daily lives, they are more awake, and more exposed, we can continue to support them in coming to know the world and it's current challenges in a way that doesn't make them feel doomed or apathetic. We can, even in this wild time, create hope and a true feeling that there is so much goodness.
When our children have questions about something they heard or read, by all means, have a conversation with them. Sharing with them from a place of empathy for the lost and confused. Even the ones committing horrible crimes are human, and they must be hurting something horrible inside to be able to do what they do. Keep the conversation simple, don't go over and over rehashing it with loads of drama inserted, but rather ask questions to hear what it's like for your child to be hearing this and imagining how this could possibly happen. Listen for their fears, help them to feel safe and comforted again. Look for the helpers, in every atrocity, there are way more people there to help, there to lift up after the fall, look for them, name them, talk more about them than the bad.
Our children feel the emotion in the images they see, they feel the emotion that arises in their own body, as they hear a horrifying story. It is our job to help our children process these feelings. Keeping it bottled up inside leads to illness in one form or another. It is of absolute paramount importance that we have a solid process for helping them move these feelings through their body. Our emotional expression, our tears in particular, are cleansing. When we don't emote, when we don't allow the feelings to come flowing forth, we block ourselves to vitality. We can not truly block one feeling type, say anger or sadness, and not also block our ability to feel joy and happiness. Read that again. it's huge. When we block one emotion we also block the others. Do you want to feel true happiness? You must be able to feel grief, and we need to have a process for helping our children feel their feelings as well.
For the past three weeks I've been working closely with a group of parents around this very topic of feelings and ironically the same process that I use to give my children space to move through their feelings, so that they can remain strong, healthy, in touch with their inner guidance and trustworthy, as Crazy Horse knew it, is the very process I use to move through Conflict to Cooperation with them as well. It is a powerful set of tools that we have been diving deeply into and I'm inspired to offer this course one more time this year... You can join us by making a small donation to the Thriving Families Mission campaign. We begin on Monday November, 30th! Content is delivered to your inbox every other day for three weeks, our weekly Q&A call and class discussion space will support you further and I promise you will feel better equipped to hold space in a healthy way for all the feelings that arise living in this wild time and also to handle conflict in a way that is effective and healthy.
Let's raise strong children in a chaotic world, and enjoy more peace, calm and connection in our homes!