From gun violence to the attack on reproductive rights, today's news cycle—quite frankly—can feel pretty depressing and fear-inducing. And in a world when we're more connected than ever before, escaping the headlines can feel like mission impossible—especially when you're a parent.
If you've ever found yourself struggling with staying present, worrying about the future, or searching for ways to talk to your little one about the current events, this one is for you. Perelel's very own reproductive psychiatrist, Dr. Sarah Oreck, MD, MS, sat down with Millennial mom whisperer, Dr. Becky Kennedy, clinical psychologist, founder + CEO of Good Inside to talk about parenting in trying times. They shared tips for taking care of your mental health, ways to support your children, and how to navigate the current news climate as a parent.
Keep reading for three pieces of wisdom from their conversation below.
On talking to your child about current events.
"I think it's so important to process it first yourself. So sort of putting your oxygen mask on first yourself before digesting it for your children," says Dr. Sarah Oreck.
"I definitely think that being present can be so important and holding to that is really hard during those difficult times," she explains and notes that this approach of course differs for toddler or older kids who may understand more what's currently happening.
"But it's okay to be vulnerable in front of children," says Dr. Sarah Oreck. "As long as it's done in a thoughtful manner."
Dr. Becky continues.
"It's not information that scares kids, it's being alone in the absence of information," says Dr. Becky.
Even without saying anything, your kids can still pick up on clues that something is wrong. Instead of keeping them in the dark, Dr. Becky encourages parents to validate what they're already noticing.
An example is saying things like, "'You're noticing mom has been a little worried and a little more stressed and you're right for noticing.'" Dr. Becky explains, "sentiments like that are safety-producing."
On passing on your anxieties to your child.
Dr. Sarah Oreck starts with how she's helped herself in this regard.
"I think the really important thing is starting to identify our internal states and what's happening," she explains.
"Often, when we're not taught that as children it's a really hard muscle to exercise on your own but the baseline is understanding what it is that I'm feeling," says Dr. Oreck.
Dr. Becky challenges us to reframe this one instead.
"Forget passing it on," Dr. Becky explains. Ask yourself instead: Does it serve me?
She continues, "it's about the fact that this no longer serves me and I'm going to get help. Not just so I don't pass it on, but also because I deserve this as a person. And of course, your kids benefit from that."
On stepping away from doomscolling.
"I think we're all victims of this," says Dr. Sarah Oreck. "Especially in today's day and age."
"My trick is really mindfulness," she continues. "I actually ask my husband: 'If you see me on my phone for too long, can you just nudge me and get me back in the present?' And I try to do that for myself."
When you find yourself doomscrolling, Dr. Becky prompts us to ask ourselves: What am I looking for? What would that news article give me?
Likely, Dr. Becky explains, we're looking for a feeling or a state.
"Often we're looking for certainty that something is not going to happen. Or, certainty of safety forever. But the truth is when we search for certainty we always fail. The only certainty is our presence in the moment...That's all."
"Usually," says Dr. Becky, "doomscrolling doesn't give you something that you really need."
Watch Dr. Sarah Oreck and Dr. Becky's conversation below for more pieces of wisdom.
This article is for informational purposes only. It is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and we recommend that you always consult with your healthcare provider. To the extent that this article features the advice of physicians or medical practitioners, the views expressed are the views of the cited expert and do not necessarily represent the views of Perelel.