After one of the wildest election seasons in memory, the inauguration is coming. Many of us, whatever our political views, felt tumult, worry and fear for many, many months. In the approaching inauguration, some of us feel relief and hope, others sorrow and concern. While we have all these feelings, we can also consider what is the best way to talk to our children about this. How can I talk to my child about the new President?

            Children and parents are deeply intertwined emotionally. When we have happy times or a sad experience together, then our feelings are the same and make sense. But what if a parent is worried or scared or angry about something that the child doesn’t know or understand? Well, the child feels the feelings anyway, of course.

            Sometimes, adult worries are hard for children to make into sense. When that happens, children can be overwhelmed and confused. That is because they are children, and they are first thinking about their own selves within the family. An adult worry that is not about them can feel like it does. A child can pick up that feeling and try to make sense of it in a senseless way. How did I upset mommy? Can I help and how? Am I, the child, in danger, or is the family in danger?

            The trick is how to share your feelings and values in a meaningful, safe way to your children so they understand and can have their own feelings.

            The process is to understand yourself first, and then talk in age appropriate ways with your children. Please, in these interesting times, find a place to share, understand and store your complex feelings. Go to friends, family, partners, therapists, clergy or other trusted adults. Let these people know the real you, and how you feel. With them, mourn and rejoice, feel anger and relief, worry and hope, as feels true.

             And then you can let yourself remember that somehow, good and bad days—really good and really bad—come and go like the seasons. 

             Once you have felt your feelings with other adults, you can really hear your children and what their concerns are, and respond to those actual feelings. You will be able to explain to your children what you feel and believe in a way that they can get. You can offer to your children a longer vision that this too shall change into something else, somehow. This way, your children learn your values. They will also learn that feelings are allowed and will pass and that all will be well.

 

Helping parents understand their feelings so they can share them positively with each other and their children is the heart of my practice. Please contact me at 917-583-9358 or therapy.gail.sinai.lcsw@gmail.com to learn more or see if working together is right for you.