The Trauma of Trump

One of things, I believe, that has made this year so difficult for many of us in terms of Donald Trump being elected President, is rooted in the fact that many of us have experienced some kind of trauma in our lives.

Maybe we’ve been on the receiving end of racism or discrimination or we’ve been bullied or sexually harassed or assaulted or even abused by those with power over us and there was nothing we could do about it.

Our current administration has been an almost constant trigger of our own traumas, no matter whether it is us or friends or family who feel a lack of safety with what our government is doing. Even worse, it has been a trauma in and of itself, seeing this man, a bully, a harasser, a discriminator and his followers proud of their racism, sexism, anti-semitism, bullying, abusive behavior, become president.

Now, not only did we have old traumas triggered, we feel scared for ourselves and our family. We feel powerless and helpless.

In essence, we feel traumatized once again–especially with his reaction regarding Charlottesville, his equating “many sides” and saying the Confederate flag and statues are a special part of our culture, that Nazis marching through a city is perfectly normal and acceptable and no reason for genuine condemnation.

But here’s the difference. Whether our traumas happened long ago or more recently, we are stronger than we were then and we are not alone now. We are not fighting this alone, defending our families and country all by ourselves.

  • We have each other to turn to for support when we don’t feel strong enough to go on.
  • We have each other to brainstorm ideas of how to fight back, how to make sure our elected leaders know how we feel and how strongly we feel it.
  • We have each other to think about what organizations we should be giving money to so they can help protect those that need protection.
  • We have each other to think about specific actions we can take to make our voices heard, to help those who need help.
  • We have each other and our combined strengths are pretty powerful.

This *has* been traumatic for so many of us and that is *why* we feel this way. We can’t underestimate how profoundly this period of our lives is being affected and how it is affecting us. Not because we are weak, but because we are connected. We feel. We care. We’re invested in ourselves, our families and our future. These are just a few of the things that makes us different and special.

Even though the wounds are still so fresh and continue to reopen, let’s remember we aren’t the little kids who got hurt long ago. We are strong adults able to stand up for what we believe in and to not only protect ourselves (maybe in ways we never could as kids), but also stand up and protect others, too.

Guest Dad Post: Teaching While Learning At The Same Time

By Tom King

The beauty – and terror- of pre-school kids is they are still unpolluted by the larger world.  Whatever comes from them is almost 100% the direct result- forget byproduct – of what we as parents have put into them.

So recently when my son was angry I saw myself reflecting back and could tell he was struggling (like his Dad) to communicate and cope with the frustration.  I decided to try help him through it while also giving him a “tool” to use for the future.  I said, “It looks like you have Angry Ghosts in your eyebrows!  How can you get rid of them?”

This immediately both confused him and piqued his interest.  He started thinking through the options.  Here was his list:

– Grunt it out

– Fart it out (he’s 5)

– Jump it out

– Run it out

– Laugh it out

– Pull it out

In talking him through this exercise, we both connected in a way that was less threatening to him and less intimidating for me.  He’s learning coping mechanisms- but the truth is, so am I.  There really is power in teaching.

In my work, I’ve noticed the order in which I do things is often as important as the tasks themselves.  Many times, it is more important.  True success, however, doesn’t come until and unless I hit both.  So, here is the prioritized steps list my son and I agreed upon for getting rid of angry eyebrow ghosts:

1. Blow them out

2. Talk them out

3. Sing it out

He has an amazing imagination.  I can’t wait to hear about the songs he makes up along the way, but I’m hoping he learns something it has taken me a lifetime to sort through- creativity can be a curse as much as it can be a blessing.   Steps 1 & 2 are so important to finding real happiness within myself as well as  others.

Parenting is an amazing thing; we literally have to teach these little people everything and at times it is overwhelming.  It takes constant reminders to myself that if Step 1 doesn’t work, all that needs to be done is go to the next step and trust everything will be ok- or at least we’ve done the best we can.

The impact of this exercise paid immediate dividends for both of us.  By the end of our conversation he was laughing and I wasn’t riddled with anxiety over how to relieve him of his pain.  Truth is, that’s not my job, anyway.

Like all things with parenting, we will see if it sticks- but in the meantime, there is no question we’ve both learned something.

Parenthood Publishes Jeremy’s Article on Conquering Children’s Fears

Parenthood.com has recently published Jeremy’s article, entitled Help Your Child Conquer Her Fears. The article, as the title suggests, helps parents be there for their children and the fears they experience.

Jeremy includes the five key things to remember when dealing with your children and their fears:

  1. Redirect her attention away from the fear and onto happier thoughts.
  2. Provide unconditional support, no matter how many times your child comes to you with a fear.
  3. Reassure him while you model how he can soothe himself.
  4. Offer a small physical object that makes her feel connected to you or to home.
  5. Never tease a child about her fears.

Check out the article for details on all five key points. Jeremy concluded the article by saying;

Certain fears may seem irrational or even silly when someone is afraid of something that doesn’t frighten you. But for children, this big world is already a little scary and when they have bumped into something that really frightens them, we can help them by being supportive, encouraging and positive so they can learn to think that way on their own.

Modeling Technology Behavior for Our Family

This past week, I read several articles talking about ways families can stay connected and how teens rely on their parents for how to behave on the Internet and with mobile devices.

I am the role model for my nine-year old twins in so many ways, of course, it makes sense that they would follow my lead when it comes to technology. Will they spend time hanging out in front of iTunes like I do, listening to music, buying new songs, updating playlists? Probably.

But will they spend so much of their time texting their friends or updating their status when they get their own phones? Only if my wife and I do. Many parents are upset that their kids spend so much time using their mobile devices when they are supposed to be spending family time.

However…

  • Do you frequently deal with emails (work or otherwise) while your kids are right next to you?
  • Do you frequently take time out to post to Facebook or Twitter when you’re with your family?
  • Most importantly, how would your kids answer those questions?

The truth is, even if I think I don’t use my phone that much, if my kids perceive I do, that’s all that matters. They will learn I don’t truly value my time with them, that it is okay to prioritize our gadgets over our family. As with so many things, if my kids feel that way, whether I think so or not, that is all that matters.

Take some time to open up that discussion with your family. “Do you feel I use my ‘mobile device’ too much?” Maybe you can create a code word to help them remind you to stay with them, a code word you could then use with them when they do the same to you.

Family connectedness is extremely important, but it will take a little work on everyone’s part to help make it special.