Promoting a Healthy Sense of Well-Being
This has been a big week for us personally. In preparing to speak at the Suicide Prevention Forum, we recalled many painful and wonderful moments. Our preparation also gave us an opportunity to revisit the work we’ve been doing over the past eighteen months and all that we have been learning along the way. Our reflections and conversations have been difficult, but also healing.
Parenting a child who struggles with mental health is a struggle. (Parenting a teenager is hard enough these days!) What is clear to us is that parenting in the social climate of today’s world involves different conversations, takes new tools (as well as approaches, strategies), and requires much more support. More than ever, parenting takes a village.
As we have been healing from loss, we have been working through many questions:
● What is it like to be a teenager/child today?
● What is missing in our kids’ lives?
● What life skills and coping tools do our students need to learn and develop?
● What resources and supports do parents need? Teachers need?
● How can teachers, coaches, and counselors support in their important roles and unique relationships?
● What do our teens need to know and understand to care for themselves? To support their peers who struggle?
● How do we best prepare teens to journey into adulthood?
● How do we best support our students, parents and teachers?
● How do we model and nurture mental, social and emotional well-being?
We still have much to understand, reflect on and learn from. And, it helps to know that we, as parents and as a community, are not alone. Raising and educating children and teens is a major challenge of our day. Educating requires great love and patience, genuine intention and understanding, new approaches and skills, as well as awareness, collaboration and social action. Preparing our kids for a healthy, fulfilling and rewarding future, involves cultivating well-being. We see well-being as everything we do that strengthens our mental, social and emotional health. As adults in kids’ lives, we need to start by thinking about and cultivating our own well-being. Only then can we ask, How do/can we foster, nurture and develop our kids’ well-being? One thing we know is that this involves community and we all have a role to play. We each need to do our part. Together.
As residents of “America’s Happiest City,” our community has an opportunity to model cultivating well-being and creating happiness by focusing on social-emotional health. “Social-emotional learning is the process through which individuals acquire and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes and skills necessary to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions.”
Our work is grounded in the needs of students, parents, and educators and has been done with our community in mind. Our intentions have guided our learning, connecting, and focus on well-being. Well-being is about cultivating relationships, connecting with others (beginning with a smile), letting someone know you see them, and showing others they matter. What actions will you take?
The following articles came from this week’s news and ensure us that we are not alone in addressing these issues:
Want your kids to be resilient? Here’s what not to do (10/9/17, Washington Post)
We Need to Talk About Kids and Smartphones (10/10/17, TIME)
And, helping our teens develop cognitive empathy:
Striving to connect, be well, foster conversations and facilitate change.