My heart aches today for the people in Las Vegas. Just last night I was at a music festival with my entire family. We were up close by the stage. It was a beautiful night. The music was hopeful and unifying. Just one state over at another outdoor concert, families were experiencing their worst nightmare.
Waking up to this news was a shock and reminder of the January 8th tragedy that impacted our community so deeply. I know first hand how it feels to receive a call that a family member has been shot. I remember too clearly the minutes following that call when we didn’t know who survived or where our family members were. I remember the days and weeks in the hospital. The slow healing process. I understand the impact this has on the survivors and family members of victims and survivors physically, emotionally and mentally. I recall explaining what happened to my children who were 4, 6 and 8 at the time and wondering about the impact this would have on their development. It made me want to put my family on a magic carpet and fly somewhere safe.
It is heart breaking.
In the days weeks and months after the tragic shooting in Tucson, we saw the way our community responded. With meals, memorials, activism and so much support. This is what defines a community. Not the act of one deranged individual, but the response of a community. The loving response, the anger channeled into activism response and the support. So much support.
Parenting through this is hard. We know that you are doing your best to protect your children from the media, but we also know kids pick up on things, hear things and we can’t keep them in a bubble. When hard conversations come up, we need to be ready with our response. Here are some good ideas for how to help kids through crisis (see below).
And this quote from Fred Rogers has helped too many times:
“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”
― Fred Rogers
Hold your friends and family close. Life is so precious.
• Try and keep routines as normal as possible. Kids gain security from the predictability of routine, including attending school.
• Limit exposure to television and the news.
• Be honest with kids and share with them as much information as they are developmentally able to handle.
• Listen to kids’ fears and concerns.
• Reassure kids that the world is a good place to be, but that there are people who do bad things.
• Parents and adults need to first deal with and assess their own responses to crisis and stress.
• Rebuild and reaffirm attachments and relationships.
Jenny Barber Douglas began working at a preschool when she was still in high school, setting her on the path to a career teaching and supporting young children, their families and educators ever since. Jenny is the director of Second Street Children’s School in Tucson Arizona, a program she started teaching in, when it first opened 25 years ago.
Through her years of service, she has experienced firsthand the amazing results a small group of dedicated people can achieve when working together toward a common goal.
Jenny’s family was directly effected by the tragedy on January 8th 2011 when six people died and more than a dozen others were badly wounded. The shooter was later found to suffer from schizophrenia. Jenny’s father, Ron Barber, was seriously injured in the shooting and her family created the Fund for Civility while Ron was still in the intensive care unit. Their goal was to sustain and build upon the enormous community outpouring of goodwill, compassion and kindness that followed the shooting with a commitment to building a community where people feel safe and are treated with dignity, and where we all can work together without rancor to solve community problems.
Jenny has three children and she is active in their schools, sports and other activities. She has been married to her husband for 19 years. Jenny and her family love to travel both near and far – one of their favorite Southern Arizona destinations is Bisbee.