Adults and Children Dealing With Tragic Events: Connecticut School Shooting
National tragedies such as the recent school shooting in Connecticut December 14, 2012, the senseless movie theater shooting in Colorado, and other tragic events across the span of time leave us reeling in confusion and grief. It is difficult to understand how life can end so senselessly for children and adults of all ages. The desire to understand can overwhelm our days. We listen to the news for hours, hearing the same messages over and again. Details reported with slight changes and promises of new information if we stay tuned just a little longer. It is difficult to turn off the reports and ignore the trending news from Internet and radio sources. We might miss an important detail or opportunity to finally understand why and how these things have happened.
Broadcasters are professionals who understand their ratings depend on holding our attention. If they can keep us tuned in to the tragic news, success is guaranteed. We keep listening and watching, hoping we might learn the secret to avoid tragedy in our own lives.
The problem with continuously listening and searching for tragic news is that the truth becomes unbalanced. Reality is the majority of us will not meet gunmen, mass murderers, floods, or acts of violence, natural causes will generally be our final end. Reality is most of our schools are safe except for an occasional bully, and the majority of our children have nothing more to worry about than a difficult math problem or the dilemma of whether or not to stand in line for the slide or the swing before the recess bell rings.
Parents who drink-in great amounts of tragic news for hours at a time, allowing this to settle in to their hearts and minds, become affected by this. Peace begins to seem as limited as a 30 second commercial break, while the overwhelming tragic news feels more like real life. This also happens if we disproportionately take in hours of extreme horror shows, sadistic television dramas focused on homicide, criminal behavior, and forensic shows with butchered human bodies flayed open on morgue tables. We know these shows are fiction; however our minds and bodies have stressful reactions just as if they are real and happening in our presence. We must open our eyes to the truth. What we take in through our eyes and ears can eventually change our beliefs about the world around us. In turn, it will affect how we teach our children to live and enjoy this life.
I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. That is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant. (Martin Luther King Jr.)
- I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. That is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant. (Martin Luther King Jr.)
- So we do not give up. Our body gets weak, but our heart gets new strength day after day. The load of trouble we carry now is a little heavy. But this trouble is getting something great and wonderful ready for us which will last for ever (2 Corinthians 4:16-17, Bible, Worldwide English 1998).
- Our attitude towards what has happened to us in life is the important thing to recognize. Once hopeless, my life is now hope-full, but it did not happen overnight. The last of human freedoms, to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, is to choose one's own way. (Dr. Victor Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning)
Balance the amount of time spent taking in tragic news or violent shows.
There is no need to ignore reality, avoid the news, or even shun the occasional scary flick. Instead, critique what you hear and see. If fiction brings nightmares, fears, or stressful reactions, make some changes. If you are listening to the same horrific news with little or no change, physically get up and do something different. Mind your mind!
Balance what you hear and see with the good and positive news.
Sit and talk with your children, become engaged in the news of their day. Actively listen with intent and love. Their lives are rich and filled with details that seem simple and childish, but are profound and meaningful. Also, make your own news. Try something absolutely new, healthy, and fun. Then report and actively listen to 'new' news you and your friends and loved ones create. Engage in making positive events and news that you control. You're in control of your family's exposure to professional broadcasters in pursuit of tragedy for station ratings.
So we do not give up. Our body gets weak, but our heart gets new strength day after day. The load of trouble we carry now is a little heavy. But this trouble is getting something great and wonderful ready for us which will last for ever (2 Corinthians 4:16-17, Bible, Worldwide English 1998).
Balance helplessness with hopefulness and healing.
In the case of tragic events, find ways to volunteer or donate time and money to organizations making a positive difference in the lives of survivors. If your children are old enough to understand, and if they have learned of the tragedy already, this might be a way to bring healing and hope to you and your children.
Life can hold tragedy and difficult times, this we know. We can be drawn to media that is violent and dramatic. Although this is natural for us, this is our life and we are responsible to live it well. A few common sense changes to how we view life can help us enjoy a full and satisfying existence.
Our attitude towards what has happened to us in life is the important thing to recognize. Once hopeless, my life is now hope-full, but it did not happen overnight. The last of human freedoms, to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, is to choose one's own way. (Dr. Victor Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning)
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