It’s okay to not be okay
The events that transpired at the US Capitol building last Wednesday were shocking for many, easily predicted by others, and overwhelming for most. We are holding a lot right now, a global health crisis, economic crisis, and political upheaval. Parents have been overtaxed with working from home while parenting small children or acting as substitute teachers for older children and teens. School aged children may be confused about the events last week and teens may be overexposed by spending too much time on social media sites. Parents of babies and toddlers are grateful they can’t understand what is happening but they definitely can pick up on stress with their caregivers.
It’s important to have an open dialogue with school-aged children and teens. You need to be transparent with your feelings and thoughts about what happened. This transparency opens the door for children to ask questions and share their own thoughts and feelings around the stressful event. I would hold an age appropriate discussion and emphasize safety. I spoke with my oldest about current events in a way that she could understand but also by sharing my feelings of worry and shock. If she had been a teen I would want to set limits on social media and invite discussion about what she had witnessed on those sites. It is important for our children to see us express emotions and cope with stress in a healthy manner.
Many of the images were trauma inducing for marginalized communities. As a self identified white person I acknowledge those traumas with my children and others in my social network. I was deeply alarmed by seeing anti-semitism on display in our nation’s capitol. I have Jewish ancestry and felt saddened that I witnessed such hatred on hallowed grounds. The gallows was especially triggering since lynchings have been a constant act of terrorism against black Americans for centuries. The Confederate flag was also disgusting and I thought to myself I cannot even imagine the Reichstag allowing the Nazi flag to be carried through its halls.
If you feel triggered by these traumatic images please know you are not alone. You may have experienced sleep disturbance or felt like you couldn’t get those images out of your mind. You may have been on edge with family members following the event. These are all normal responses to trauma. I suggest connecting with your social support, getting exercise, spending time in nature, and engaging in deep breathing in order to process the trauma. If you feel you are really struggling please don’t hesitate to reach out to mental health professionals.
We have really been put through the ringer for almost a year. I am in awe of the resilience of the human race, especially children. I will end this post on that positive note. We can survive this as we have survived horrible events in the past AND it is also okay to not be okay.