This past Saturday, I attended the March for Our Lives in Tampa, FL. The march was a response to the Parkland, Florida school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on February 14, 2018 where 17 people died.
Marjory Stoneman Douglas is about 4 hours south of where I was standing and about 10 miles north of where I taught elementary school in the mid-1990s.
I went because I want to support our kids in using their voices, knowing that adults are listening.
I went because I wanted to hear what they had to say.
I went to listen. Because I have a thing about listening to children. It is a huge part of my work.
What I heard from the children and teens who spoke is that our children are having an experience of gun violence being normalized and they’re literally shouting that it isn’t normal.
They talked about what it’s like for them when they have to do lockdown drills, preparing for the day when there may be an active shooter in their school. They talked about what it’s like to get ready for school, wondering if today will be the day a shooting will happen in their school.
They described how toxic it is for them to be in that environment.
What I heard loud and clear is that they are having an experience of gun violence whether it is their school or not. Whether it is their friends who are the victims or not.
If your kids are in school, they’re having an experience. If your kids are living in the United States, even if they’re not in school, they are probably hearing about what’s happening from their friends, from social media, from the parents talking. The older your children, the more likely they are hearing something and the more important it is to talk about it.
In last week’s podcast, I talked about how you can support your kids, whether you have a baby or toddler or a teen or any age in between. I’m not here to have any sort of debate on the “right” path to move forward. As I talked about in this podcast series, there are many things we can be doing to help support our kids right now. Find the thing that works for you and for your kids.
But start by having a conversation if your kids are attending school. When we don’t talk about it, they are alone with it. They need to know they’re not alone and that it is ok to talk about with you. Listening may help you understand how your child is feeling and perhaps open up a path for what you can do for your family, your school, your community, or your country.
Hit reply and let me know what you’re doing within your family and what your kids say when you talk to them. I’m here to listen.
And if you need some extra support around this, please reach out. I do offer 1:1 sessions with parents and can give you guidance to help you stay connected through the inevitable challenges of parenting. I’m here to listen to you so that you can truly listen to your kids.
Boundaries can feel so confusing for parents who are working to parent consciously.
Like many parents here, maybe you want to give your child some freedom to discover her own needs and preferences. Perhaps you want your child to grow into an adult who knows what he wants in the world. You’re trying not to slather punishments and consequences all over the place, but you still need some semblance of order. And you don’t want to just flip out on your kid, but you’re feeling a little out of control at times. There’s a lot of confusion about what it really means to have loving boundaries. Parents who grew up in authoritarian households often swing to the opposite extreme (permissive parenting), sometimes to avoid conflict but most of the time because they just don’t know what else to do.
I hear a lot of stories about the real everyday struggles of parenting consciously. Parents share stories about their kids who stay awake all night and disturb the whole household and they don’t know what to do about it.
I hear stories from the moms who don’t want to breastfeed the toddler all the time, but who don’t know how to set a loving boundary around it. Instead of it being a connecting time where the little one slows down for a moment to connect, it’s something the mom just has to do, and resentment builds.
Here’s an excerpt from the podcast:
Supporting Your Kids – Understanding your child’s perspective of gun violence and how you can support them.
Kids will show you that something is bothering them through their behavior, not necessarily with words. They may be more aggressive than usual. Some may seem sullen or quieter than normal. They may seem to have more energy. Sometimes they may start to get sick more frequently or more severely.
Our culture may label these things as misbehavior or unrelated to things that have happened, but I’ve learned that most of the time they’re actually signs of stress, of a story that they can’t make sense of, or something that they need more support to handle. These signs can be present in older kids and adults, as well as young children, anytime we need extra support around a topic.
Rebecca Thompson Hitt, MS, MFT