Today marks the day the Sandusky verdict was announced. It is also the day when the healing for the children, families, communities and our nation begins.
What happened at Penn State was a terrible tragedy. But as a witness to what transpired, what have we learned? Why not take a moment to get present and witness the potential for the limitless healing and transformation in this event?
I am a busy mother of three girls, 7, 6 and 3. Having been the recipient of childhood molestation and abuse my “radar” is definitely alive and well! However, my mother didn’t have one. She was forced to adopt one 5 years after the molestation had begun. By then the damage was done. At least a significant part of it.
Today, I can say that I have had an incredible journey of healing and transformation. In fact, having learned a thing or two about self-healing, unconditional forgiveness and love along the way I started teaching and helping others tap into their own limitlessness to heal and transform.
Today I am grateful that we were able to unite as a nation in one voice and stand up for our children. Yes, very grateful. Now begins the journey to make conscious awareness and presence in our lives as plain as brushing our teeth. Prevention is better than cure, right?
If you think that it’s easier said than done, then you are absolutely right. It is. But when it comes to our children I think as parents we want them to be healthy, happy and whole. We want our children to grow up to be responsible, independent, resilient adults that are able to make choices based in love and have respect for themselves and others.
I see empowering kids with knowledge regarding personal safety and safe touch as imperative. Not one based in fear or the “what if” or “worst case” scenario. But truly based in love and respect for themselves. So they may grow up as beings that honor their own physical space, their bodies.
As parents we invest time and money on childproofing the house, installing baby gates and performing background checks on nannies and au-pairs. This is no different. We can get educated and be empowered sans paranoia. We can get present, be aware and continue to make loved based choices for our children.
Last summer, I played a game with my older girls who were then only 6 and 5. The youngest who was 2 wasn’t participating of course! Because of this homegrown and tested game my oldest shared me with me that another child at school had interacted with her inappropriately. (In the game I quiz them on safe and unsafe touch etc). While I won’t deny that I was startled by this discovery, I was also very grateful that I had an opportunity to develop my communication with my daughters this early in their lives. It also created an opportunity for me to have a conversation with the teachers at school and the mother of this child. It created an opportunity for conscious presence and awareness. I am grateful for that. I was met with a healthy dose of openness as well as denial. I also had to get present to feeling complete with carrying out my responsibility as a parent and then letting go of how the other parties chose to own theirs.
How do we as parents and educators become present to our children? One way is to pay attention to their cues. The cues could be physical, emotional or verbal.
Noticing changes in body language, asking (and knowing) who their friends are, why they are drawn to those friends, also noticing if they don’t have any friends, why is that? (I remember being really lonely most of the time and then also sometimes having friends that weren’t the best choice for me. I also started binge eating after a certain age when it was getting hard to ‘keep the secret’).
Emotional eating again (after my mom found out she had me promise her I would never tell anyone. “Stuffing” my emotions had me overeat and gain weight), mood swings, irritability, high highs and low lows, lack of focus (abruptly dropping out of a sport or hobby that they once used to be passionate about)
Cryptic use of language, saying something but meaning something else, unreasonable outbursts that may seem uncharacteristic to that child, an absurd amount of silence, trying to be heard and seen without finding the “language” to communicate what’s really happening
Any of the above behaviors or cues could be present in children at one time or another and it wouldn’t mean that they had been subject to inappropriate contact with an adult. Of course, changing one’s mind is not something uncharacteristic for a growing child. I am referring to the more peculiar shifts, one’s that stand out. I share this with the intention to help inspire opportunities for intentional dialogue, conscious listening, awareness, presence and ultimately the safety of our children.
Empowering ourselves with choices based in love will help us teach our kids the same. This conversation is not to inspire fear but to inspire courage to use our voice, speak our truth and empower our children to do the same. My intention is to “be the change” like Mahatma Gandhi said. I want to be present to my daughter’s generation of children and create a shift in this world. I think asking you to join me would be redundant as the very fact that you are reading this means you already are.
Disclaimer: I am not offering advice as a professional in the field of Psychology or Counseling. I am simply sharing some guidelines based on my experiences having walked the walk and supporting others in a similar manner, helping them heal and transform. I have practiced meditation and spiritual tools for transformation and use the same in my practice with my students and retreat participants.
Also, my Mother and I have come a long way on our journey of healing and transformation. I love her dearly and have not mentioned her in this blog to criticize her in any way. She did the best she could for me and I don’t blame her. Not anymore. My motive for sharing this piece of my story was to illustrate the importance of presence and conscious awareness as a parent. It is my hope that you, my readers, see that.
Thank you for your kind support and unconditional love,