Now is as good a time as any to discuss how parents can protect their children from the harshness of the world.
When there is crisis in the world, it is a parent’s job to shield their children from learning the horrors and atrocities that happen. Of course, keeping in mind age-appropriateness, we might start by putting limits on online time or using tools to keep children from venturing into uncharted Internet territory.
There is a lot of war and strife going on right now. It’s remarkable how, even in the face of such turmoil, goodness abounds, and it is easy to find stories to share with your children of helpers and heroes. This will help your mental health also!
But too often, co-parents capitalize on external stressors to fan the flames of animosity between them. If anything, times like these are exactly when co-parents need to come together in how they approach these tricky subjects with their children.
There is a much bigger scarier world out there, and big things are affecting us more than who gets to bring snacks to soccer practice, pick up the children or chaperone a field trip. Because of what’s going on in the world scene, some people become highly anxious and hyperfocused on the little things that they can control.
Be aware and acknowledge this could be happening in your world. If your ex seems hypervigilant about little things, it could be a response to them feeling anxious and afraid. This happened during the pandemic. People tend to react when the world is chaotic, and they feel out of control. Some of what gives people some comfort in an odd way is to control smaller things within their reach.
During the pandemic, people got stuck on small details and had a hard time seeing the bigger picture. That’s normal! Give grace and space for that if you can.
On the flip side, for people who do have the ability to be reflective, there are people who are feeling, wow there is a lot going on in the world that is really scary, and it may bring them to some reflection on the bigger picture of the world and not being so caught up in all these little things that frustrate them. It’s called gaining perspective. In the scheme of life, not everything is worth a fight.
So how do we help our children at times like these? They’re going to hear things at school and on TV.
As Co-Parents in two homes, there has to be a certain amount of respect and understanding that even if you were living together in the same home, you might have different perspectives.
We can all agree that we don’t want our children feeling anxious or stressed about what is happening in the world. We must keep them as sheltered as possible, depending on their age and what is appropriate for them, finding ways to talk about it that is constructive. Some parents are monitoring or limiting social media so they don’t accidentally see something scary or traumatic. The headlines are very sensational.
Make sure you’re on the same page as your ex about how to handle your children’s questions and what type of information they have access to. That is an important conversation to have, and it should take priority over what time is pickup and who’s taking the kid to whatever activity.
It’s times like these when we have opportunities to teach our children about consequences and conflict in a constructive way.
Before we can protect our children, we must calm ourselves. We shouldn’t be glued to the TV or social media doomscrolling 24/7 because it’s not healthy. We must make space for ourselves, be present for our children and enjoy the moments of our lives. That is how we are going to help them the most.
Finally, children of divorce and separation might be triggered by news of war. Trauma elsewhere could stir up their own lived trauma.
Whenever possible, with that in mind, reduce conflict with your ex to diminish your children’s stress.