Friday, March 27, 2020
Think of the Children
We may feel like we are going through unprecedented times, but—surprise—that is not necessarily so, as a recent blog post by my genealogy mentor Sheri Fenley demonstrates. Headlines in the wake of the Spanish flu eerily echo the rise in case count—and ensuing legislation—today.
It is another episode from history which has my attention today, though, and for good reason: I'm thinking of all the children who, same as the rest of us, are absorbing all the stressful news reports while not being equally equipped with the psychological distancing tools we adults can resort to.
Think back, for a moment, to September 11, 2001. I'm sure you can remember that day as clearly as I can—especially the continual replaying of the video clips of those horrific moments.
And then, almost as suddenly as if someone had issued a nationwide gag order, those images went away. There was a moratorium on the replay. Why? It was for the children. The children who, being young and unable to handle the stress quite the same as all those adult viewers, would be saddled with a psychological impact which would take immense effort over time to relieve. So we stopped talking about the scariest parts of that pivot point in our national history. At least, in front of the children.
With everyone now constantly exposed to frightening news reports of an ongoing attack—albeit invisible to the naked eye and, thankfully, the news camera—I'm wondering why no one is concerned about the impact to our children with this stress-inducing life change. I see so many adults admitting that they are so distracted that they can't concentrate on one job or task at a time. If that's true for us, what about the little ones?
Thankfully, I see some individuals and companies taking the initiative to make a difference for our smallest citizens. Billion Graves recently offered a list of activities for parents who are now "instant homeschool teachers" to do with their students while they are suddenly stuck at home. Of course, Ancestry.com has also offered free access to teacher-developed history lesson plans to assist these suddenly-teachers, as well.
Janet Hovorka of FamilyChartMasters, better known to some for her 2013 book, Zap the Grandma Gap, decided to take her message of the value of learning resilience from our ancestors to social media with the hashtag #ResilientRoots. She'll be sharing her observations not only on her blog, but on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and her company newsletter.
Of course, there are far more resources that can be of encouragement to our children, in the midst of all this angst, than can be listed here. But more important than the techniques we might use to teach our children in the absence of their usual teachers is the redirection of attention toward material which will be positive for them as we all go through these uncertain times.
Children may not understand all the facts or statistics, but they certainly can absorb the emotions that are flying around them, particularly from those to whom they are the closest. Perhaps the best thing we can do for our younger generation right now is provide them an uplifting atmosphere of calm in the midst of calamity. In whatever way we can, let's not forget to harbor them safely, not only from germs, but from the emotional strain that wears down all our resilience. Come to think of it, what's good for the children is likely good for the rest of us, as well.