Mixed race mother touching foreheads with little cute daughter

Accept what’s happening is happening. Nature is turning you inward to gain power through peace, rather than outward to gain power through activity.  Until things improve and something starts to work, let’s lie down in the cool, shady valley . . . and rest. 

-Iyanla Vanzant 

I listened intently as the powerful theologian and activist, Dr. Freddie Haynes of Friendship-West Baptist Church in Dallas talked about Tupac Shakur’s song, Keep Ya Head Up . . . how a lot of folks are ‘stressed and depressed’ . . . looking fearless on the outside, but deeply wounded on the inside.  The challenge to holding on . . . to let faith fight the mental health battle that overwhelms and frightens us

When one of the most admired women in the world, Michelle Obama, boldly and understandably admitted that amid the deadly pandemic, watching the video of George Floyd’s murder by police, the racial upheaval in city streets, and the hypocrisy and incompetence at the top - day in and day out – she had been experiencing low-grade depression, I immediately thought about the children . . . the parents . . . battling through a sea of troubles and trying to remain afloat.

Let’s face it, the pandemic will probably have a lasting effect on our children’s and our mental health. Younger children will want to stay in their imaginary worlds rather than hear a news report about how bad everything is around them.  A mother of a first grader reported that her son started asking – “if we live in a computer; if we were real, or if we were cartoons.” They are isolated, lonely, and worry about whether their parents will have a job. They are not equipped to understand why people don’t want to wear a mask if it’s been scientifically proven that following the health protocols can save lives.

The Huffington Post released a survey recently citing the toll our current national and global state-of-affairs is having on the mental healthof our children and their adult guardians.  There has been a 40% rise in psychological problems related to suicide and drug overdoses – not the virus itself.  They just want to know how life changed so quickly, and how long it’s all going to last.

What Parents Can Do for Themselves

  • You don’t have to apologize or judge yourself, especially if you are single parenting.  There will be days that are totally out of control.  Fearlessness might not be within your reach.  Want the truth . . . “we have little control over most situations.”

 

  • Take time to rest, restore your body, heal, and re-evaluate.  This year has been like no other.
  • ‘GOTTA KEEP YOUR HEAD UP’ - preach to yourself – and repeat over and over . . . I can do this and I will come out a stronger warrior.

What Parents Can Do For Children

Like the unprecedented and unpredictable nature of the coronavirus, and a rare inflammatory disease sickening children (MIS-C – Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children), it’s paramount we keep ourselves well and keep a close eye on our children.  If our immune system is supported by disciplined exercise and a wellness diet, we all have a better chance fighting off the invasion of the viral enemy in our bodies.  We can no longer take our health for granted until we get sick.  Explain to your children that this virus strain is new, but children appear to be generally at low risk of infection.  They can, however, be carriers and spread the disease to more vulnerable populations.

For parents of color, we must be even more vigilant than others.  African Americans are more likely to experience higher rates of conditions like asthma and cancer due to disproportionate exposure to environmental hazards like lead in the drinking water, highways and toxic dumping areas near their homes, and the lack of grocery outlets providing nutritional and affordable food choices.  Regardless, we must decide to treat our minds and bodies better.  No more denial. We can’t pretend things have not gone wrong.  They have and our predicaments could get worse.  We can’t worry about that which we cannot control, but we must be prepared.

 

  • Let children know there are things adults are doing every day to keep them healthy and safe.  It’s not their job to work.
  • Make it simple.  Teach your children to sneeze in their elbow; wash their hands frequently, especially before touching any food; avoid touching their face; and always wear a clean mask.
  • Becoming resilient in “The Age of Corona” and social unrest requires naming our feelings, talking about them, and figuring out a way to work through them.  Cultivate connections of support with sound resources.  Organize and keep important information documented. 
  • Parents can help by using straight forward language, staying calm, validating their children’s feelings, and being consistent with expectations.

In Tolkein’s “Fellowship of the Ring”, there is an exchange between the wizard, Gandalf and the Hobbit, Frodo in which they discuss the terrible days that have fallen upon them.

“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.  “So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times.  But that is not for them to decide.  All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”  This we must do.

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