Reframe it (Parenting in Hard Times 3)

So many of us have been trying to figure out how to be cheerful and not scare our kids, which seems at odds with being honest with them about the truth. It feels like either/or. Either we lie and stay peppy so they don’t know anything’s wrong, or we tell them the truth of how bad it is and crush their feelings and terrify them. But what if we reframe the entire situation to make it about what we want our kids to learn from this instead of what we’re supposed to do perfectly?

Your job is to be kind to your kids, and one big way to be kind to them is to trust them to learn important things. Right now, in the midst of great sorrow, they can learn the most important things there are to know:

Your love for them is deeper than words.

They can trust you to do the best you can for them.

They are worth working hard for.

You will show them how to work for themselves.

When they get the chance to work for other people, they have to take it.

Relationships and community are of the highest value and are worth working for.

What if this crisis gives you the chance to apprentice your kids into being people who are strong and vulnerable, who can soothe themselves to be able to do what they need to do, and who work and fight for justice for others?

If you start thinking of these days as chances to show your kids that bad things happen but they can push back, even in teeny, quiet ways, you win. If you start thinking about what you tell them in terms of what will make them be able to make good decisions about how to act, you win. If you start looking for ways to teach empathy, kindness, and critical thinking, you win. You don’t have to worry about what information will do to them if you’re guiding them through how to receive and process and act on information as it comes in.

This is a tough request, especially when you’re feeling anxious and worried yourself. But it gives you a task to focus on that you know you can do. You’ve been helping your kids learn from the moment you met them. You can do this, too. Trust them to learn what you’re teaching, and trust yourself to be the teacher they need.

All my love,

Magda

Love the New Normal (Parenting in Hard Times 2)

Remember back when your kid was teeny and everything was horrible and you weren’t getting any sleep and you thought you were doing everything wrong and every minute seemed like an hour? And you wondered if that was the New Normal. Now you know that it wasn’t the New Normal, and most of those horrible things passed with time and some different horrible things aged in. It was all fleeting. The real New Normal was that you had another human in your life with thoughts and feelings and opinions, and you get to be with that person and watch them grow into who they are. The New Normal is actually kind of great once the immediate problems are gone.

We’re in the same kind of situation right now. We’re worried that the discrimination, lies, violence, racism, misogyny, fascism, overstepping authority, embarrassing statements, threats, bans, white supremacy, dismantling the system, and belligerence are the New Normal. They’re not, though. They’re the New Temporary. As the New Temporary they’re truly disgusting, but they’ll only become the New Normal if we stop fighting and working and pushing as hard as we can.

The real New Normal here is who we’re becoming in the middle of this.

Who are you now that you weren’t on November 7? I bet you have more layers, more resilience, more compassion, more strength, and better boundaries now than you did then.

What do you know now that you didn’t before? I bet you know so much more about so many groups of people in this country than you did before, along with what their experiences are like, and how you may have inadvertantly harmed them by things you did and systems you participated in. I bet you know more about how our government and political systems and electoral processes work. I bet you know what really matters to you, and what you’re willing to do to preserve freedom and justice for yourself and for others. I bet you know now that you’re not isolated and that there are millions and millions of people in this country who look nothing like you but want the same things you do.

What can you do now that you couldn’t before? I bet you can make phone calls to strangers every day. I bet you can go stand at protests and march for hours and chant with groups of people you have varying things in common with. I bet you can analyze what are good sources of information and make critical arguments of propaganda more directly than you could before. I bet you can assess who has your best interests at heart and who doesn’t, and maintain strong healthy boundaries. I bet you can keep pushing hard at the same time you’re laughing with glee at stupidity.

For years I’ve read obituaries of people who really contributed, and wanted to have that same record of contribution. I don’t mean people who were the most famous in their fields, but people who had years and years of cumulative work in their communities, of service and influence and contribution. And I’ve thought about how lucky they were to have been able to do that, to work steadily to make things better for their people. Right now we are all learning that. We are all doing that. We are all being that. We are contributing. And we get to keep going, even after the New Temporary is over and we get what’s left of our country on a better track. We get to keep doing this and being this in ten years, twenty years, fifty years. That is the New Normal. You get to be part of it and to raise your children immersed in care and love and activism.

All my love,

Magda

Keep it on an even keel. (Parenting in Hard Times 1)

(Cross-posted on postTrump.help.)

Keep it on an even keel.

Kids need routine and stability. You need routine and stability. In the middle of the world falling down around us, the only one who can provide routine and stability for you and your children is you.

You may be feeling like you can’t keep it together logistically, if things get any worse (and that may be true). You may be feeling like you can’t keep it together emotionally for much longer (or that you aren’t currently keeping it together emotionally). But you have to stick to routines, for your kids and for yourself.

There are three things to know about all the madness swirling around us right now:

1. You can’t fix everything that’s happening. There are some things you don’t have any control over, and there’s no leverage point you can access to control those things. There are some things you do have influence over, and you need to take action, but you can’t do everything on every front. If you have a daily action plan, follow that. If you don’t, get one, and then follow it.

2. You shouldn’t fix everything that’s happening. It’s not your job to. There are 188 million adults in America who didn’t vote for Trump, and if even 3% of us are active in resisting, that’s more than 5 1/2 million people doing resistance work on a daily basis. That’s a lot of people, and more are joining us every day as the Bannon administration gets worse and worse. There are jobs for everyone. But no one should try to fix everything, because it isn’t reasonable. And no one else can take care of your children the way you can. That’s still and always your most important job.

3. The bad guys are creating chaos on multiple fronts because they can, and because they’re trying to incapacitate you with panic. If you stop living a normal life, they win. If you dig in to routines and to normal life, you win for everyone. Your stability and consistency provides stability and consistency for the entire country. If you descend into panic or obsession, that undermines the exact structures and systems we’re trying to save. Don’t help them destroy things. Grit your teeth and keep going.

This is going to be a long fight. And now that we know how to fight, we’re going to be fighting forever. So you need to find a way to create a good, safe environment for your children in the middle of the struggle. That means keeping up routines, including emotional routines. Hugs, kisses, snuggles, wrestling, feeding them good foods, making sure they get exercise and seeing sunshine when there is any, helping them with homework, asking them to do chores, following daily and weekly traditions, seeing friends, staying connected to family members, maintaining faith routines, and play. Lots of play.

Your heart is breaking, but don’t let that break your kids’ hearts. Stay boring, loving, and solid for them.

All my love,

Magda