No matter how hard we try, we cannot keep the harsh realities of life from our children. I wish we could. I wish we could just let our kids be kids and keep our problems far from their developing minds. Unfortunately that is not the world we live in. No matter how careful we are, children hear conversations not meant for their ears, or see things on television not meant for young minds and eyes. It happens, and we really shouldn’t beat ourselves up over it either. It is part of life.
There are times when a death in the family occurs, or the death of a pet, or a house fire that destroys everything, or a trip to the emergency room. One particularly stressful situation I did not anticipate involves my youngest son trying to cope with the reality that his older brother is nearly an adult and is about to start a life of his own. As it is, teenagers rarely want their younger siblings around cramping their style. This is one of the downfalls of having children so far apart (7 ½ years apart). Those first 9 years the two boys were so close.
The best thing we can do for our children in stressful times is to be there for them. Listen to them when they are trying to communicate their frustrations, fears, and woes. Some children have a difficult time expressing emotions and feelings, especially if those feelings are new. My situation above is new for all of us, but the anxiety of not having his brother home with him is new for my youngest. In reality, this situation is new for me as well, and I have my own set of emotions and anxiety regarding the impending adulthood my teenager is facing.
We do favorite activities whenever possible, and we spend time imagining what my soon-to-be-a-tween’s life will be like as a teenager. I encourage my youngest to keep a journal so he can write his feelings down when they begin to overwhelm him. Most importantly, he spends as much time as feasibly possible with his older brother, whom assures the younger that even when he is off living his own life he will always love him.
Growing up is one of the most difficult things to do, and so many factors come into play increasing those difficulties. By being beacons of positive energy we can help to smooth out that transition and help lighten the load a little when it comes to unexpected stressful life events.