Strong Families, Happy Kids: Parenting Tips from Prevent Child Abuse Arizona
By Claire Louge, Prevent Child Abuse Arizona’s Executive Director, provided this issue’s column.
Life can be unexpectedly scary sometimes. Last month, I was in a car crash. I hit a car that was running a red light. My car is totaled, but thankfully, no one was hurt.
It was a rattling experience, of course, and created a bunch of problems that needed to be addressed immediately and in the longer-term, like communicating with the other shaken driver, getting the police on scene, getting my car towed, filing insurance claims, and starting the process of finding another vehicle.
But those are solvable. Stressful, of course, but tolerable. In fact, the whole experience wasn’t just tolerable, it turned out to be meaningful.
It’s not just because I was grateful no one was harmed.
It was because of people and the way they showed up to help.
The man who was driving behind me stopped and made sure I was okay, and missed the haircut appointment he was on his way to so that he could give a witness statement to the police.
The residents in the surrounding area checked on everyone to make sure we were uninjured, and started clearing the road of debris to keep other vehicles and drivers safe.
The driver of the vehicle who ran the red light apologized sincerely, and fully admitted fault. I later learned from her that she has a toddler who isn’t sleeping, and it was her exhaustion that contributed to her not realizing that the light was red.
So many people drove by and asked if I was okay and if they could help.
The insurance specialists were kind and clear and patient.
My partner, friends and neighbors offered concrete and emotional support.
What could have been an overwhelmingly stressful experience became a meaningful, solvable challenge. And it’s because of the way that people responded.
There’s a frequently cited quote by Mr. Rogers that’s often used to excavate the good from crises or tragedies. He told us to “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”
He’s so right. But not everyone gets the kind of compassion that I experienced when they face a crisis. It is not just that we help. It is how we help. By offering help in a way that is understanding, kind, and nonjudgmental, we can be the difference between something painfully hard and something that’s hard, but doable.
The way we show up can even help shape a person’s whole world view. Consider this when you’re interacting with your children, family, circle of friends, and even the people you encounter in the community—at the grocery store, library, park, or at work.
If we respond with compassion, we just might help someone feel a bit safer not just in the moment, but in the way that they carry themselves in world. Imagine every child growing up, feeling safe in the world … and learning, by example, how to respond with compassion throughout life.
Maybe if people are willing to inconvenience themselves to make sure their friends and neighbors are okay, maybe this world isn’t always so scary. It can sometimes even be unexpectedly meaningful.
Editor’s Note: look for the Strong Families, Happy Kids column in every issue of Prescott Woman Magazine. It’s designed to support parents with actionable tips and strategies they can use to create optimal environments for their children to thrive. To learn more about Prevent Child Abuse Arizona’s mission and resources visit www.pcaaz.org