I love being a parent. In fact on some obscure level I can understand how someone would want to always have little children running around the house, filling it with laughter, shrieks of joy and excitement and yes, even the chaos. But the practicalities of feeding, clothing, nurturing and the endless chores keep me focused on doing a good job with the fewer kids I have and some day submit to having grand children.
Children are such a joy. And as a parent, it is only natural to want to be a solid character to your children, no weaknesses. It is no wonder that our parents all had good grades, made no catastrophic mistakes and kept a good head in a crisis the way they tell it. I wish I could be the never-do-wrong parent to my children too. That may have worked with our generation but today’s children are not so gullible anymore. Today’s parenting calls for practical measures in a world that gives even the youngest of our children access to a lot more information than their minds can absorb, more exposure and more risk.
My biggest concern nowadays is the exposure to tragedies. In our part of the world are floods, landslides, bomb blasts. Closer to a child’s understanding are the losses, loss of a parent or carer or friends at school in a natural disaster, accident and perhaps even a bomb blast in a public venue. So the key question is how do we teach our children to deal with tragedy and the pain of a loss at such a tender age? How do they deal with intense emotional pain?
So how do we teach our children to be more resilient or at least cope well with pain and sadness? When a five year old comes home to announce -“Mama, I am not going back to school, they took David away! They put him with the stars in heaven and he did not even say bye …”
It really is heart breaking and it only gets worse when he crawls under the bed to cry, hides his school bag and yells at the TV and all other unusual behaviour in an attempt to control the depth of the overwhelming emotion he does not even understand. There is no real rule book on how to handle a grieving child. The situation is highly subjective and individual yet highly volatile for such a young mind still in early development of emotional intelligence.
But we are the pillars of our children’s worlds. In my assessment we can be strong for them. We build them up when we build ourselves up. It’s important to build resilience in ourselves and our children; it helps us face inevitable disappointments, sadness, pain and tragedies. One important way to build resilience is to learn about our own emotions, to build our emotional competence. Each family has an emotional system, and if you grew up in a family with a generally healthy emotional system that shares pain and celebrates together, you are very lucky. Many people struggle with a not-so-healthy emotional legacy and do not understand the value of having a support network. Ideally this support network should be family, the nearest and hopefully dearest. Parents are the first pillars of support to a child. I am the first contact and first one called to be a pillar of support for my child.
I will be a pillar…. Will you?