Parenting through crisis. This is a tough one.
Remembrance Day was quickly followed by tragedy in Paris this past week. For me, as I digested the range of emotions that followed, was a powerful message that PEACE can play a profound role not only for adults but for our children, our grandchildren, our nieces and nephews, young neighbours, patients and students, during crisis.
“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” -Mr. Rogers
This week I’d like to gift you with insight from one our community’s dearest peace leaders fondly referred to as Madame, by both my daughter and Dr. Robin’s (this is their teacher of academics, yes, but more than that, their teacher of life lessons on virtues and wisdom and living from a place of love and tolerance).
Amongst these beautiful words meant to help our children cope, are really just ways that we ALL can cope with crisis around us. When I asked my committed peace-leader and friend, Sukhsehj Kaur (a.k.a Madame), for her insights here is what she shared;
“My gentle advice to you would be to be mindful of the information your children may be exposed to during this time: Conversations around the house, news playing in the background or on the radio. They deserve to live in a world that feels secure and safe. Remember that children still have a very abstract idea of the expanse of their world and can only relate to news that immediately impacts them. Exposing them to stressful information will shake that faith in their immediate community and reality. Be ready to support them in tangible ways if this happens.
Children are owed the simplest of messages any time their reality is shaken; to assure them of their personal security, surround them with the strength and comfort of community (sangat) and show them the power of love and hope, through meaningful rituals.
As you tuck your little ones into bed tonight, and struggle with the heaviness of the news around the world, keep in mind that this is the only message your children need to hear from you: “You have the power to shine light into this world, and your light is more than enough.”
It’s most important that children aren’t overwhelmed by heavy issues that we as adults struggle with. They need to feel safe and secure and empowered, not helpless.
Remind them of their light and, as adults, take refuge in it.
As I look back on the memories of remembrance day last week, I’m touched to realize what an impact attending the ceremony was for our children. It is the community or ‘sangat’ that we speak of that supports our children and their sense of belonging. Seeing so many people gathering together to pledge peace is a testament to the simple rituals and traditions we can share with our children so that in times of crisis they can lean on these memories and their experience of community is positive and comforting and they don’t feel isolated my fear. It is the perfect experience to remind them that goodness always outweighs any darkness.
Just as we, as adults, need our sangat and community during these times. The worst thing we can do for ourselves is to isolate ourselves and allow the fear and darkness to grow within. We need to reach out to our ‘sangat’ and trust that they will be our light when our own flame is not bright enough.” ~Sukhsehj Kaur, Montessori Educator & Peace Leader.
At the end of the day, we’re all just walking each other hOMe
(for more on this or other topics related to getting good at stress and finding your best self, reach me at Vibrant Living or at [email protected])