My heart rate is raised, and my body is already shaking as I begin to write. I’ve been avoiding the topic. It’s coming up everywhere I go and everywhere online, so I don’t know how I think I am going to avoid it. Also, how is avoiding it helpful? Being helpful is not avoiding things. My friend told me she had to get off social media and I have never understood that more than I do right now. We had a tragic shooting in Buffalo, NY (not far from me) at a Grocery Store closely followed by a tragic school shooting in Texas. Our nervous systems didn’t get a break from Buffalo when the Texas tragedy followed shortly after.

I was just at school and the moms were all discussing the shootings. It’s everywhere I go. You are probably feeling similarly. After the horrific incidents it is all that was on Facebook. I don’t know why I didn’t give myself a few days off because the viewing of it constantly was making it worse for me. We have to listen to ourselves. You may need a break from the news and social media. It’s okay to take that for yourself. I am talking to myself right now too.

I will warn you that there will be no political content in this blog. The fighting between both sides isn’t getting us anywhere. It’s like a dysfunctional marriage. For the love and safety of our country, I pray that they can finally learn to work together. I will tell you all that doing something tends to make us all feel better. A lot of you are into politics. Go take one little step today to help achieve what you think needs to be done in this country. I am not a political expert. I am not a gun violence expert. I am a concerned wife, mom, daughter, sister, aunt, friend, social worker…

I’m going to admit to you that I haven’t talked to my children much about what happened. My 9 year old is so young and she won’t sleep if we discuss it. We have to know what is appropriate for each of our children depending on their age and what we think they can handle. I think for my youngest, I need to remind her that I am here any time she wants to talk about anything. If she wanted to talk about it, I wouldn’t give her details of what happened.

My middle schooler told me that the school never addresses anything. She seemed frustrated and I didn’t explore that more. She seems to want them to discuss the elephant in the room. Our middle schoolers can handle more than our younger kids, but I still wouldn’t give a lot of details.

As for my high schooler, I asked him about safety measures at school and he made it clear that he did not want to talk to me. He tends to clam up. He is 15 years old, and I have a feeling that he knows everything that happened and doesn’t want to talk to me about it. What I needed to say as I look back on the conversation is, “I know you don’t want to talk about it. If you ever do, I am here for you.” I think we need to listen more than we need to give information. If they ask us questions, we want to answer and also not overwhelm them. They don’t know that they will be overwhelmed so we need to know for them and take it slowly. The information can overwhelm me and I’m an adult!

We always need to start with ourselves. I had to take care of my own anxiety first. I guarantee you that your children pick up on your anxiety. Anxious adults have anxious children and I’m not trying to offend you. I want to be clear and honest with you. It always begins with you. If I’m super anxious about my children going to school, they will be super anxious. If I’m anxious going to the grocery store, they will follow me. What can I do to bring myself down so that I can then help my children? What can you do for you? Ask the principal questions. Find out safety protocols at school. Go to a school board meeting and ask questions. Write to your superintendent, school board members, principal, teachers. If you think getting answers will help you then please do. If advocating for what you think needs to happen at school will help you then please start today. I want to warn you to gain information first before you assume that they aren’t doing what you want. I was feeling aggravated about the AC project at school until a wonderful teacher reached out to me. She told me the AC project is a step towards a more secure school building. If the school is hot and windows and doors are open to cool off, how is that safe? If the AC is on and everything can be better locked up, isn’t that safer for our kids? My point is, ask questions, gain information, and remember that we don’t know everything. Two smart ladies on Facebook said that for security reasons schools can’t tell us everything in their safety measures. That makes total sense to me. Gather information and advocate for what you think needs to happen. Keep your anxiety in check for yourself and for your kids.

You know me if you read my blogs that I’m always working on my self talk. I also find that I’m identifying adults that can help i.e. security at the Galleria Mall, and exits wherever I am. If I have my air pods in, I always just put one in so I can hear what’s going on around me. I’m always looking around i.e. walking my dog, I keep looking around due to an unleashed dog incident that I had with my dog.

At first, I was perplexed by seeing post after post after post. I was wondering why people thought that was helping? Were they trying to convince people? Were they just lashing out their anger? Maybe it was their way of coping. It was too much for me and I had to stop reading it all. My brain was on overload, and I felt like I was going to cry frequently. That isn’t helping anything. I need to take care of myself and sometimes turning it all off is what it takes for me.

My 9 year old told me she hears my conversations at night with her dad. She has told me this before. We may think that she is asleep, but she is listening. She is the spy of the house and tends to hear everything. I just want you to remember this. They hear the news you have on. They hear the conversations you think you are having privately.

If you see a difference in your child’s patterns – they aren’t sleeping well, aren’t eating well, are more withdrawn…they may be more affected than you think. We want to check in and encourage them to talk to us and we can get them access to a professional too. Even talking to a school counselor has helped my children with various issues over the years. Never be afraid to reach out for help. That’s one of the best things we can teach our children.

In Summary:

  • Information given depends on age of child and your evaluation of your child. My three children are very different ages and very different emotionally.
  • Remind your child that you are always there for them to talk even if they don’t want to when you offer.
  • Always good to check in with our children in general to see how they are doing.
  • It starts with you. Take care of yourself so that your anxiety and worries don’t ripple to your children.
  • Find out information to make you feel better and don’t assume you know everything. i.e. school safety.
  • Advocate for changes you want to see at school and politically. Actions make us feel better. This feels like we are doing something.
  • Take breaks from social media and the news.
  • Remember that your children hear the news you may have on and your conversations.
  • Refrain from giving too much information. As little as possible especially to young kids. We don’t want to overwhelm older kids either.
  • Identify safe adults for your children at school and that they can talk to.

We are all outraged by what has happened recently. Two terrible tragedies that I hope we as a country can learn from. I have heard so many ways that people think it needs to be addressed. I have heard from both sides of the coin. I have heard from so many perspectives. I am going to guess that you think your way is the right way as I have heard so many others tell me. I want to see our government learn to work more effectively together. I want to see impactful changes. I want to see you taking steps to help you and your children cope. We are all upset. We all want our children safe. I hope that I can help just a little bit.

Laughing (not today), Loving, Learning,

Rebecca Greene, LCSW-R

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