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It's Going to be a Bumpy Ride

  • 08 Dec 2023

At Spiritual Playdate, we are strongly guided by the words of 

Frederick Douglass, "It is easier to raise strong children than repair broken adults."

As we look around today, we see an epidemic of fear and anxiety running through our youth. Life has become so terribly complicated and our societal structures are failing us in many ways. Most adults have a frame of reference and have lived through enough to put things into context, so we see them scratching their heads because they just can't understand why kids feel so hopeless.

If we adults could just look at our world through the eyes of today’s child, it might not be so hard to comprehend.

Mostly, their experiences are not the same as our experiences.

In our young developmental years, we rarely were exposed to what they are being subjected to today. We never felt events happening at an indigestible pace due to digital devices spitting out trash and truth around the clock. We likely weren't feeling surrounded by angry, sad, and frightened communities who felt targeted.

We were often shielded from the worst of atrocities until we were developmentally ready to process and manage those feelings. Over time, we would experience our traumas (as everyone does); but if we were lucky enough to have someone wise around to help us process our emotions, we could return to feeling safe and we’d grow stronger.

Traumas of every nature have been raining down on our youngest generations for many years now, and it seems obvious that it is getting worse. Pandemics, a melting planet, mass shootings, savage wars, people fleeing for safety from every corner of the earth, and of course painful cyber-bullying. Where are the influencers countering these waves of negative messages? 

Parents and teachers are confounded by kids who show up as cynical, angry, or depressed. Who is preparing these kids for the trials they will face as early as seven or eight years old?

It has to be us!

Adults must embrace a new approach, so we can prepare children for a life filled with both unimaginable joy and unbearable pain.  And please, let us hurry, as they grow so quickly!

When I was in my 30s, a plane I was on encountered a wind shear eight hours into a nine-hour flight. The plane jolted and dropped, the oxygen masks fell, carts went flying and someone was injured. A flight attendant near us was on her knees crying and praying. After a few terrifying minutes, the plane was righted and we made it to our destination, landing safely. 

For the longest time, I was terrified to fly. But I love to travel, and sometimes we just need to take a plane to get where we want to go. After taking some Fear of Flying courses, I have slowly faced and managed the fears that come up when a plane I’m on becomes airborne. But through all of this, I have learned something interesting: If the pilot gives us a heads-up and tells us “It’s going to be a bumpy ride,” I’m so much better! It can still feel a bit rough, but it’s almost like someone has planted the idea in my psyche that “It’s hard, but going to be okay!”

As parents, grandparents, teachers, and mentors, we are the pilots and the kids on our planes deserve to know ‘It’s going to be a bumpy ride.’ They need to hear that life is hard, but they are strong and smart, and they are here for a reason! They need to understand that the challenges they work through will be worth the pain, and that joy will certainly come again. If we plant that in their psyches and let them know that when those hard experiences come their way, we will be there — loving and available — to help them through it. ‘It’s going to be Okay!’ This prepares them to get to the other side.

We do them no favors by protecting them if we aren’t preparing them. And because so much life is coming at them at an earlier age, we need to prepare them at an earlier age. Start at age 5 or 6, before their toughest trials arise. Many kids experience some of their first traumas in Middle School, which I call “The Cruelest Season.” Kids can be brutal to each other during this time as they test boundaries, try to figure out their identities, and find their place in the world. We would be hard-pressed to find individuals who didn’t get bullied somewhere along the way. For an unprepared child, the public gut punch of today’s very public cyber-bullying can be devastating. Preparing kids for times when others might display mean behavior toward them is a gift of insight, that will give the child the opportunity to act instead of react. They might even become an ally for another! Helping kids to understand Bullying before it happens is another way to help our children to not only be resilient but to understand their own emotions and behavior.

These complex times are calling for us to give our kids a better understanding and more realistic view of life by preparing them early with social, emotional, and spiritual life skills. Don’t wait until their ‘plane’ drops.  Grab their hand now, and whisper “It’s going to be a bumpy ride, but you’ve got this. And I promise, it’s going to be worth it!”

Edwina Cowell

#Bullying #Resilience #FearandAnxiety #GoldenRule #Love #Peace #SoulTalks #SEL

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