By Tina Harlow, MSW, LCSW
It is 3:30am. I am awakened by my thoughts. My shoulders are tight. So tight, they hurt. I know that I need to write.
It’s about the election and our world and most importantly, our children. Regardless of our political persuasion, our critical thinking, sensitive, idealistic children are realizing that there is no Santa Claus.
We know that our world has changed, but do we really KNOW that our world has changed? Children no longer have the luxury of seeing sheer goodness in our leaders and celebrities. The convenience of technology has thrust the dark side of humanity, not just into our living rooms, but into our hands.
Even the concept of a being greater than ourselves is tainted by the hypocrisy in those who claim to be followers. The same hypocrisy that exists within all of us.
We want our children to feel safe. We want them to believe in good. We want to give them hope. So we paint on a smile and we try to explain.
Some of our bright and sensitive children do not entertain difficult emotions for long. They tend to avoid things that cause pain. They will take solace in our explanation, distract themselves and move on. We still have to keep a close eye. Sometimes what their mind cannot hold manifests in their bodies. Creativity may help them heal.
But there are other children for whom distraction is not an option. They are the critical thinkers who deal with things head on. For them, there is no escaping their thoughts. They will wrestle and search and face the darkness. They get it. They know. And they know we know.
We must be honest. We must talk about the darkness and light that exists within all of us. We must talk about what it means to be human. In doing so, we must let them know that we are all walking contradictions. We must talk about the high expectations we put on others while failing to look at ourselves. It is an ugly aspect of who we are.
Such a strange dichotomy: technology has exposed our humanity. Our new world requires a different, more honest way of parenting. It requires raw authenticity.
So let’s turn off our computer and put down our phones. Let’s don our work gloves together as families and help a neighbor. Let’s clean up our communities on the outside so that we can help clean up our insides. Let’s find the goodness in someone who is hard to be around. Let’s invite friends who think differently over for dinner… and just have fun together.
We can do this.