It seems we are faced with new challenges every day when we turn on the news. We need to be informed, but we don't want to be overwhelmed. Sometimes it's a delicate balance.
We want many things for our children. We want them to be happy, successful, safe, comfortable. We want them to be well-adjusted. We want them to be selected, be rewarded, get the certificate, be a good member of the community, develop self-reliance, and be kind and dependable. We want a lot. And why not? They are our children. They deserve it.
But in these times of trouble, we face some big challenges. How do we provide for our children if our jobs are lost or threatened? How do we keep them safe if difficulties cause strife in our marriage? What if we are a single parent? How do we protect our children when they are away from us at school or social events? How do we help them develop empathy and take meaningful action when they see other children who don't get the privileges they may receive? How do they respond to classmates who are mistreated at home, children they know whose parents are struggling due to a layoff or mental health challenge or addiction, kids from families with few resources, or friends who are discriminated against, bullied, or treated unfairly?
So often we want to prevent our children from experiencing pain and hardship, and we want to fix the difficulties that creep into their lives.
We've said many times we're just two lucky dads who got it right … sometimes. But we learned a few things along the way.
Tips and pointers
▪ Control yourself. You can't prevent every difficulty that might arise, and you can't fix every problem. Kids are going to face challenges and make mistakes. You want to be sensitive to their feelings, clear about the issues, and patient with yourself.
▪ Use your ears more than your mouth. Provide space for your children to express their feelings. Help them to share their thoughts, and be present when they have questions. Don't diminish or sweep feelings away.
▪ Provide support. Remind your kids that they will be ok, and you will be there for them. Help them understand the concept that not all children are treated well or have the same privileges that they may have.
Navigating their world
News can bring a scary world into your child's life. Unfairness can provoke worry, questions, and even anger. Be honest as you interact with your child. Provide loving support and let your children know they are valued. Listen to their concerns. Search for things your children can do to improve the situation and reduce their worry. And take a moment to provide a little space by redirecting them into an activity they enjoy in order to introduce a new perspective and give them time to process their thoughts.