In the Sandy Hook shooting aftermath, parents can make their own logical solace: focus on the good and that happened that day, like the bravery and strength of the teachers; stop rehearsing the horror by watching the endless media loop; and don't forget ... think of Sandy Hook two months from now.
Illustration by Barrie Maguire
Most parents are very good at comforting their children. They look under beds and in closets to prove no monsters are lurking. They dry tears, hug and hold on, because they know instinctively that the words they say are never as important as the acts of kindness parents perform on a daily hourly, moment-by-moment basis. That's why they became parents, because parenting equals love. And most of the time our children's fears aren't our own. So we can handle them calmly and rationally. We say, "See you in the morning light," and mean it.
But the events at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. last Friday are unprecedented and unimaginable. Although there have been acts of violence before at schools, the magnitude of the shootings at Sandy Hook put us all in uncharted territory. And in our fast paced, Wikipedia world we want to make sense of the senseless now. Well, we can’t. But there are some things we can do. Beginning with ourselves.
1. We can act like the brave teacher at Sandy Hook, who hid all her students in a closet, telling them everything was going to be alright, even though she didn’t think it would be. She kept them calm by maintaining order, by telling them to smile, by telling them she loved them. What she did was powerful, and those children not only survived because of her, they also walked out of that closet with at least a small amount of equilibrium. And comfort.
2. We can listen to the news reports in small amounts. It’s normal and necessary to know what’s going on in our world, but not to get hooked on every sound bite, some of which are often wrong. Now more than ever we need to monitor our children’s screen time. We may even want to unplug for a few days.