A tragedy has occurred in my community. No matter what side you are on, I hope we can all agree on that. As a parent of small children, a therapist of adolescents, and a wife of a born and raised Ferguson resident, the events going on deeply affect me. I’m worried and scared while hopeful positive change will come. I’ve had to navigate how to talk to my own kids as well as those I work with. I believe it is important for you to talk to your kids about what is going on. They pick up on our emotions and hear everyone talking even when we don’t know they are listening.
Here are some tips:
First, no matter what your opinion of law enforcement, please do not teach your children to disrespect or fear them. Instead focus on showing respect. I know this is a challenging request, especially if you have encountered a not-so-respectful officer before. But remember when in an emergency situation, we will want our children to feel safe calling the police. Also, someone else being rude does not give us permission to be rude. Be the positive example!
Secondly, talk to your kids about what is going on. Be age appropriate though. For small children, just let them know that something sad has happened in the community and people are upset over it. The older your child is, the more you can discuss with them. Allow them to express feelings. This is a scary and confusing time. It helps to be able to talk about those feelings. You can open up about some of your feelings too. Don’t overshare though! Your child is not there to support you.
Lastly, if you or your children are having an especially hard time dealing with your feelings please seek help. There are many resources in the community that are there to help specifically with the crisis in our community.
Stefanie F. Pisarkiewicz, LPC
Experience and information from a counselor and mother- sharing her two cents on children and teens.