|Friend of the Pacific Electric Trail|
Before the Pandemic hit the world, mental health problems such as depression and anxiety in children between the ages of 6 – 17 were on the rise according to the Center for Disease Control. Add to this the mandatory isolation that we are all experiencing, and the problem increases.
When we are at home and the kids are entertaining themselves, we have a moment to relax and focus on our needs. What we do not realize is that a full 30% of children today are suffering in silence! Given their position in the hierarchy of the family and society overall, they feel frustrated at their powerlessness. None of us have any real control over these current events, but kids feel the lack of control even more acutely than most. Not only can they not change the issues that bother them, but frequently they feel that they cannot even vocalize how they feel.
Historically when marriages fail, and children are involved they feel responsible. It is part of their DNA to blame themselves either consciously of unconsciously. So, they are reluctant to bring up feelings of loneliness and depression for fear that it will add to their parents’ burden. Add to this schedule changes, financial uncertainly, and not being able to be with their friends for comfort and they are at times walking an emotional tight rope without a net. For all of us, our traditional safe harbors have been quarantined!
The writer Christine Derengowski wrote about her son’s feelings of failure trying to keep up his previous level of academics in the 1st grade. His schooling like others is via Zoom. He was near tears about a writing assignment that he was struggling with when she had an epiphany. She told him that “you won’t get in trouble and you can’t fail 1st grade! While sitting in his very special superhero decorated bedroom, she said that “you are kind of a Superhero yourself.” He sat up in his chair just a little and looked at her is disbelief.
She said, “Do you know that no kids in the history of kids have ever had to do what you’re doing right now? No kids in the history of kids have ever had to attend school from home, sitting in their bedroom, watching your teacher on a computer. You and your friends are making history.” He looked up and said, “what does that mean?”
She told him it means she hadn’t given him nearly enough credit for rolling with the punches. She let him know how proud she was of him and his friends. That kids this year are doing the impossible and they are doing a really great job!
We have thanked everyone from grocery store workers and healthcare professionals and first responders, but we haven’t thanked this exceptional generation of kids for bearing the burden of what we’ve put on their shoulders this year. I was so profoundly moved by her experience and how eloquently she expressed it. She opened my eyes to her sons’ plight, and I was floored by her insight. Later when I shared this story to my wife, I found that my eyes were leaking. Christine Derengowski has my vote for Quarantine Mom of the Year!
We say that kids are resilient, and they are. However, they are the real superheroes in this whole scenario for having ZERO say in their lives but doing their best to adjust each and every day. Take the time to comfort them and listen with new ears. Engage them and value what they say. They may not say it well at first, they are still evolving into who they will be and so how they express themselves imperfectly may be both a learning and trust curve. But by comforting them, we may find that we are comforted. Do you know someone who may be experiencing stress in silence, please comment below.
|Friends of the Pacific Electric Trail|