CLARITY IN CHAOS
Advice for navigating transitions in work, life, and relationships from Dr. Loretta L.C. Brady.
Today I opened an email no parent wants to read: disaster behavioral health counselors would be at my children’s school to help process an untimely student death.
I knew nothing of the events but I knew with this email that my children’s social media feeds were already filled with details and speculation and devastation. Feelings and conversations they likely were already having before my early morning phone scrolling.
This afternoon I’ll be checking in with each of my children, and trying to make space for the feelings, questions and sharing they may need to do.
Probably they won’t do much talking with me. Maybe I’ll be able to slip in an, “I’m always here for you or a friend” or remind them that there are lots of ways through hard times and hard feelings. Or just take a moment to laugh longer and cheer on their connection to others. And I’ll also try to keep them limited in their online scrolling so there is less immediate focus on the online speculation machine that always accompanies such events in a community.
I’m not sure it’s the right thing to do – or say – especially after such profound community loss but I know it’s the only way through. Keeping doors open for feelings and frustrations experienced in their real and online worlds is important with our children especially as all of us attempt to reconstruct our emotional strength and social connectedness inside and outside our families. We may not know exactly all the ways our children are connected to others but we can make places where whatever their concerns they can share them safely.
Even when we do this, children won’t always choose to do so. The more joy and care we can give to ourselves and others the more likely we and others will find spaces where we can be held when we have loads too heavy for us to bear. I know that this is more important than being right or knowing all the answers, hard as that might be to hear.
If you need resources about how to open conversations with your children about difficult news or keep them safer on social media the American Psychological Association has these resources:
And another link from The Trevor Project
Loretta L. C. Brady is a clinical psychologist and director of the Community Resilience & Social Equity Lab at Saint Anselm College. Her book, Technology Touchpoints Parenting in the Digital Dystopia was released November 2022 by Rowman & Littlefield. She and her family live in Manchester, NH.