Parenting through tragedy


Parenting is hard and when we’re constantly trying to navigate through the after effects of the latest tragedy it’s even harder. MomsEveryday has been exploring the challenges of parenting in today’s mass shooting culture and dealing with the fear that comes with tragedy.

Unfortunately, the large scale tragedies just seem to keep coming. As parents, the urge to protect our children can bring on fear and anxiety in both parents and kids. Joanna Hilger and her friend Meilssa Wilhelm have had to deal with those feelings. “We talk about everything,” Melissa said. “It’s really nice to have a friend with a kid the same age.”

Recently their casual conversations have turned serious. “The shooting has absolutely changed me,” said Melissa. “If you would have told me that this was going to happen in the little town of Antigo, Wisconsin to a family that we've known for 13, 14 years - I don’t think I would have believed you, and to happen to a kid that has been to our house the last 4 or 5 years every week, you don’t think it’s going to happen to you and when it does you don’t know how to handle it."

In April 2016, a close family friend of Melissa’s was shot in the leg as he exited his high school prom. “It made me really fearful for awhile. It made me really sad for my son.”

Dan Daly, Boys Town Psychologist said, “We’re genetically built to be survivors and part of survival is not being anxious all the time not being depressed all the time not being angry all the time. People who have true mental health problems can’t get out of that anxiety, can’t get out of that depression can’t get out of that anger.”

Daly says with support you can move past fear and anxiety, “Mother’s love and Father’s love, your friends associates are usually the only nurturance that kids need.”

“Part of facing the fear since then has been to talk through it with myhusband, to talk through it with friends,” Melissa said.

Joanna agreed, “I will call the daycare probably 3, 4 times a week during the day, how are the kids. Just because to me that’s real, that can happen, people make very poor choices.”

Anxiety can be a very serious problem. If you or your children are no longer interested in things you once enjoyed or feel anxious long after a tragic event... there is no shame in consulting a professional.

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