“With all the violence and natural disasters in the media today my children are constantly afraid. How can I talk to them about these things and help to ease some of their anxieties?”
It can be a humbling moment for a prideful parent to admit that he doesn’t have an answer for his children’s questions. It is inevitable though.
Most parents can attest to saying “I don’t know” more than once.
Sadly, this can create a tremendous amount of inner conflict because most parents feel as though they ought to have all the answers. Many new parents particularly have the preconceived notion that they must be able to answer all their children’s questions in their entirety.
“Our children look to us for their answers,” I often hear from parents.
Of course they do, as well they should because we are their parents.
Nonetheless, it is unreasonable to expect anyone to have all the answers.
This can be very difficult for many parents, particularly when it comes to something traumatic. Naturally, we want to be heroic in our children’s eyes, which is certainly a positive thing. Ironically though, heroism has many masks.
What a great opportunity uncertainty can be for a parent to model an appropriate behavior.
We don’t ever want to create a scenario where our children believe they have to be perfect, because everyone fails at some point or another. Modeling appropriate ways to handle this can be one of the greatest lessons we teach our children.
When a tornado hits an unsuspecting town or a lightning fire engulfs a family’s home, we can take this opportunity to show our children that we don’t have to have all the answers.
Sometimes the best answers are unspoken and better stated with a compassionate hug.
Be sure to check out the other posts in this series on helping your child cope with trauma in the media:
Nick Hersey, LAMFT, LAPC