As most of us look to world events today, Ukraine is at the forefront. Every news station is talking about this terrible issue. Families in Ukraine and around the world are being torn apart. Children who have just gotten to the point of barely surviving COVID are now faced with experiencing more scary uncertainties. For some, these are in a faraway land, and others are right in the center of this conflict. Most parents and adults look at what they see and fight back the tears from their past wounds that perhaps never really healed. It seems all too horrible, too dark, and to say you are sick of all of it, becomes an understatement.
So, what do we do? How should we act? What should we say? The anticipation of what could come next keeps most going back to the news—always hoping for a more positive change. Adults, after time, will tend to become numb or angered. They will blame, swear, and their frustration will keep growing every day. Their children will learn to deal with their fear and uncertainty by watching and feeling the anguish displayed by adults and especially their parents.
How do we help everyone? First, we all need to stop and breathe… We all need to take a moment and check on our feelings. We all need to accept what we can and cannot do. Powerless parents are children in fear.
Limiting exposure to this trauma is the best thing we can do for our children and ourselves. Once we take the time to breathe and check on our feelings, we can do the same for our children. The young need to know that there is good and evil in our world. It is part of life. If we shelter too much of this evil from children, we will leave them unprepared to deal with its effects as they grow up. But how much do they need to witness? The best advice is usually an individual thing with each child. Being aware of what is appropriate for a child by their age and development can better help them understand and handle situations. Sometimes this will take a lot of talking and listening from their parents. Some parents will look to doctors or therapists for these answers. In short, there are no clear-cut rules.
What is vital is the conversation. These conversations let children know, at their pace, that it is ok to talk about what they experience. It lessens the scary feelings and can instill hope even in the youngest. Children (and adults) need to know that it is ok to be scared. It is ok to be uncertain. However, it is not ok to feel or be alone. This is where a great hug can come in. Children need these hugs in times like these, as do adults.
When we take the time to breathe and think about what is going on around us, we are taking the time to check ourselves out. But more importantly, it can allow us to be real about what we can and cannot handle and lead us to the support we need. This is the best we can give our children, along with that hug filled with loving hope.
There are people out there to support you. Sometimes, it is family, friends, your community groups, churches, schools, and of course, family medical staff and behavioral specialists. Don’t be alone. Reach out. It is ok not to be ok, and there is always HOPE.
Rik Cornell, LICSW
VP of Community Relations
- If you would like to make an appointment, please call 603-668-4111 and ask for scheduling.
- If you or someone you know is in crisis or needs to talk, call 833-710-6477