Most of us are still reeling from the media portrayals of what happened this week in Washington, D.C. It is hard to imagine that it could ever be possible for this to occur in our country. It is significant evidence of the division in our country that has become so toxic.
We have no way of knowing what impact this will have on our country and on democracy as we know it. There is some sense that new gateways have been opened that could have lasting effects. One politician stated than when we violate our democratic norms we open the door to anarchy. It very much feels like those norms have been forever altered.
I have a lot of thoughts but since Lakeside is an organization that deals with youth and trauma I have great concerns about what messages we are sending to our kids. What are they feeling as they witness the chaos of our politics, protests and what many have labelled an insurrection?
These are stories that we typically see in other countries that conduct their election in what looks like military state. This is a fundamentally different picture for our kids to see in America.
It will be important for parents and caregivers to be proactive as they help their children and teens process what has happened. Depending on their knowledge, developmental stage, conversations and perceptions, it will be significantly important for them to be heard, to be able to ask questions and to participate in open discussions with their families about what is going on in our country. It is hopeful that we can share with them that this is the exception in our country and not something that happens or will happen frequently. I know many of those who were protesting had no intention of being a part of the violence and assault on the Capitol Building. However young minds often cannot discriminate complex concepts and will need the help of family members to get a healthy perspective.
These images can also promote a great deal of fear and distrust. The issue of trust is so very fragile. Teenagers by nature usually do not need help to become cynical about anything related to authority. The kind of discord and dissonance that were a part of this recent set of events can easily lead to apathy, lack of respect and a sense of withdrawal from some of the core values of our democracy. It is difficult for them to understand how these issues can be a part of what we call America.
There is a lot to process about this for us all. We can be angry, fearful, questioning or even disillusioned. However please remember that our children and teenagers are also impacted by this difficult day in American history. We need to preserve their hopes, dreams and beliefs about what changes we can make no matter how difficult the issues are. For those of us who have seen many changes in our country, we realize that change is always possible and that we can learn to grow through even the most difficult of experiences.
We can have hope and be active to make changes so that our world can be a safer and better place to live as we all contribute to a healthy society.