When you are stressed, those negative emotions are transferred to your children. But you can protect them from the harmful aspects of this. Your job is to create a Harbor Home for your child even in circumstances that challenge the very thought of peace. When you do this, you create a Harbor Home for yourself as well as your little ones. Read and be encouraged!
People who study early childhood development understand fully that children are not simply small adults. Human brains continue to develop until the age of twenty five, and so a young child simply does not have the capacity to comprehend things the same way an adult does. This is an important starting point for parents of young children. Your children do not and can not interpret the world as you do. They are children. You are the adult. Ready or not, you are in charge of being the grownup in the room. As parents, we provide security.
But life keeps happening to adults. Unemployment, underemployment, conflict in marriage and in the family, illness, injuries, pandemics, war, political upheaval. We need ways to make sure that our children have a safe space to rest their minds and their spirits in the midst of the world. Hope is the gift you give when you create a Harbor Home.
How do you provide a place where hope, peace and joy prevail in the middle of chaos and calamity? When you don't know how you are going to pay the electric bill or make the car payment...when your family is fragmented by conflict... is it possible to create a safe space for the children under these circumstances? Yes it is. It absolutely is. And the happy byproduct of this is that when you make a safe space for them, you can join them there.
I firmly believe in taking intentional action and not simply philosophizing about the issues that concern young children. I would not be saying that you can create a Harbor Home for your anxious family if I didn't know how to do it. In fact, I have done it myself. I want to share the techniques I used with my own young family as well as what I have seen others do.
What are some steps you can take to make sure that, in spite of huge pressure, your children have happy childhood memories to carry with them through their lifetimes? Here are a few, but please add in the comment section things that were done for you or things that you did to maintain a joy filled home under trying circumstances.
Control What You Can Control There are many things that you can hold on to when the world around you is spiraling down. The first of these is your attitude. How you respond to a challenge when your child is watching is how they will respond. If you panic they will panic. Remember that nothing frightens a young child more than their parent being out of control. If their parent is calm, then they can be as well. You may not feel calm inside, but put on a brave face for your child. Smile and say things like, "It will be okay. We are safe." I know many elderly people who recall their childhood lived in abject poverty by saying, "My mother never let us feel poor. She must have been frightened, but she loved us and protected us. We thought we had everything." And they did. They had a mother that stood against negative thoughts.
Look For The Helpers, Be A Helper Mr. Fred Rogers is famous for reminding us that in difficult times we need to look for the helpers. There are always helpers. There are also always ways that you can be a helper. As pervasive as negative politicians and news reporters are, there are far more people who work to make the communities safer and more beautiful. Deliberately and thoroughly look around for the positive things that are happening around you. If you can't find any, create it yourself. Be the positive influence that you need. Be the cheerleader in your child's life. Be the one who notices the good when all around are those who see and speak the bad. If you are the only one putting good into the world, then there is good in the world.
Imagine Good Imagination is a powerful force. Albert Einstein considered imagination to be more important than knowledge. This is because knowledge is limited, imagination is infinite. There is no end to the level of joy you can bring to your negative circumstances when you imagine that all is well. I have always felt that it was kind of funny, though: when I imagine that things are positive they become positive. I am not alone in seeing this phenomenon. You can make bad things good just by imagining that they are.
Please do not think that I am writing platitudes from a standpoint of ignorance or sentimentality. Through a series of unfortunate events my children and I lived in very real poverty for the vast majority of their childhood. In addition to this the mental health of close family members declined sharply leading to conflict and instability.
And yet, while my children were young and looking to me for security and joy I used all these techniques to provide it. When they reached adolescence and developed higher reasoning skills they saw the reality.
But they have memories of being loved, nurtured, and rich in the things that matter when they were very young. We worked in a soup kitchen serving those who were worse of than we were. We flew kites and had picnics in public parks. It was all the fun we could afford, but if was great fun. There are many other examples.
To this day my children have the habit of controlling what they can control and standing strong through hardships. I believe that this is because they saw this modeled from their earliest years.
Give your children the far reaching, life long benefits of a Harbor Home. Strength and courage in times of extreme trial. Stability and joy when times are good. Begin now!