Mom what is rape? What happened to Asifa? Was she my age? These dreaded questions were asked to me by my almost 8 year old. She has caught whiff of the heinous crime that has gripped our country and is rightly confused. As a parent I don’t know how to respond to that. I am not able to digest this act of raping an 8 year old girl in a temple. I am unable to read the details of this horrific act.
Allow yourself to feel.
As a mother of young girls this stories hurt in the deepest recess of my heart. I look at my sleeping girls and cry tears of fear and anxiety. I wonder are my children safe from the monsters lurking around? Do they know how to detect danger? Is this a world I want for my child? Find yourself a safe place to work on these feelings. Get together a group of friends or family members and share your stories. You can follow the guidelines of a listening partnership- learn how to here.
As I worked on my feelings I cried for that child, I cried for my daughters I cried for myself. The feelings this reality of living as a woman, girl, child brought up and the confusion of being a parent of a girl child. The release of my own feelings left me with some clarity and calmness that opened up the doors to my next step.
Shield them from the brutal details
As an adult I am confused and disturbed by the details of this crime. Children do not understand it and their world-view is unable to comprehend so much of it. Protect them from details. Keep them away from the ever present media. If they have heard about it and are asking questions, keep your answers light, ask them:
What do you think?
How are you feeling?
These will allow you for better insight into what they know and what direction they would like this conversation to go in.
Calling the people who do these acts bad, continues this black and white understanding of people and behaviour that is creating these problems in first place- the idea of us and them, the division between people and societies.
As a parent I have been working hard to externalize good and bad in my children. We use words like that behaviour was ‘off track’ to explain what would traditionally be ‘bad behaviour’. The fury of news like this wants to be removed on the perpetuators and it is easy for us to slip into the language of good and bad. We need to keep the person out and comment on the act to bring consistency in our children’s language and understanding of behaviour. Use sentences like:
That was a terrible thing they did.
This is some really off track behaviour.
How do you feel when you do off track things? When your friend/sister does off track things? How do they feel?
Do something that makes you feel like you are making a change or difference in the world. Think about an act of kindness your family can participate in. Channelize that helplessness into something constructive. Let them set up a ‘nimbu pani’ stall on the street, a collection drive of toys and clothes among their friends, bake some cookies and distribute among the homeless. Come up with ideas together that are unique and leave you feeling a sense of satisfaction and contribution and take you away from the rage and helplessness.
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Join Megha Mawandia to learn more about these conversations and explore these ideas. Call 8898420416 or email firstname.lastname@example.org