Hello JYM family!
I don't really know how to open this little greeting paragraph. Like most of you, Lisa and I spent yesterday watching in horror and sadness the insurrection that fell on our capitol. We watched the events unfold on the news and also watched as many people processed these events publicly on social media. To be truthful, Lisa and I are both still processing all that we saw as well.
We think education is a very important part of understanding the world around us and understanding how to apply the Bible to that world. We want to discuss the many different examples of privilege, specifically white privilege & Christian nationalism, which made yesterday at all possible when we meet together on Tuesday. However, our main role is that of spiritual caretakers - and we also want to help take care of your students' spiritual and mental well being as they process what has happened.
I saw someone post that they believed yesterday would be the defining moment of their child's early life. It made me think about when 9/11 happened. I was 11 year old and that is the moment I would say defined my own childhood. At 11 I did not have a full understanding of what political and historical events had led to that moment, and I believe it took me years to really unpack all that was set into motion that day and how it changed the course of our country forever. While I may not have understood every detail, I did understand how i felt. Dread, fear, sorrow, and confusion were all things I felt that day and in the weeks and months after.
Every student that is a part of our youth group is going to have a different understanding of what took place yesterday, but every student will certainly be aware of their emotions. Below we are including some ways you can check in with your student and help them to process what they know but also how they feel. This is a list from Dr. Carrie Andrews, Superintendent of Cambrian School District, of how to talk with your child during social unrest or tragedy.
- Try to be in charge of what and how your child learns about the event. Depending upon the age of your child, it is a good idea to limit children’s exposure to traumatic news stories and images. Older children might use social media to communicate with their friends about events. It is important to monitor their interpretation of what is happening around them.
- When exposure is unavoidable, provide basic information about what happened at an age-appropriate level. Brief, basic facts are typically appropriate for younger children, while older children and teens may have more questions. Don’t overwhelm young children with too much information, but be sure to address questions as they arise.
- Do not assume that the child’s worries and questions are the same as your own. Each child will understand and react differently. This will vary to some extent with age or developmental level, personality and pre-existing anxiety, and the manner in which the information is presented.
- Use open-ended statements and questions such as “Tell me what you know” and “What questions do you have?” rather than “Do you understand what happened?” and “Do you have any questions?” This will help you get a better sense of the child’s understanding, worries and desire for more information. Adults and students will have differing opinions about the “right” or “wrong” of events happening around them.
Here are a few possible responses when students want your opinion:
“We need to work for peace in our community.”
“I want you to be safe.”
“What can we do in the community to make sure we all get along?”
“We need to make sure everyone is treated with dignity and respect.”
- Acknowledge the events in a calm way and provide reassurance about the child’s own safety and security. Be honest – don’t tell children something “could never happen” here, or to them – but minimize anxiety. Focus your ability and efforts to keep them safe from harm.
- Monitor your own emotions. Exposure to devastating news is upsetting and overwhelming for adults.
- It is natural to be emotional at times. However, children look to their parents and other significant adults for a sense of whether or not things are okay. Parents often serve as a child’s barometer regarding their own safety and security. It is important for parents to manage their own stress levels and reassure children that everything will be okay.
For more support, a reminder that Lisa and I are both available by text, phone, email, social media if a student ever wants to talk. Lisa is also open to small in-person (outdoor) meetings with two or three students for students who may need more. We are also available to parents, additionally each of our three churches has full time pastors who are available to you and your families if needed. Another benefit of our combined youth group is a wider network of support you are all welcome to!
AHUMC - Mariellen Yoshino at email@example.com
CPUMC - Amy Beth Durward at RevAmyBeth@cambrianparkumc.org
WGUMC - Jaekuk Jo at Jaekuk@wgumc.org or Susan Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org
We also have shared in the past recommendations for therapists. If you need that list again please respond to this email, or email Lisa.
Beyond emotional support, we want to once again say that if your family is facing financial struggles in the midst of these trying times, PLEASE reach out to myself or Lisa. We will be happy to talk with you and see what type of assistance we can provide for you and your family.
If you and your family feel you have some extra money or time that you want to use to bless others, please reach out and we can give you a list of local organizations doing wonderful things for the people of our city and county.
We are one In Christ,
- Katrina Kraynick-Baker