The mood was jubilant at the polling place where I went to cast my vote. People photographed each other with their “I voted” stickers.
One mother said to her two young children, “You are going to see the first woman President of the United States.” Her son promptly replied, “We don’t know that yet.”
I don’t know what she told her children the next morning.
How Periods of Uncertainty Can Bring Us Together
In times of uncertainty, it can be difficult to know what to tell our children.
Moms and dads across the country have been wrestling with how to explain the latest entire election cycle in the U.S. to their children. Some, like the mom mentioned above, have to explain why things turned out so differently than they said it would. They have to find a way to navigate the pending period of uncertainty with strength and grace.
Many are nervous. They don’t know what to expect or what to think. They look down and see their kids looking up to them for answers.
Had those kids been mine, this is what I would have told them the next morning:
- I am honestly disappointed.
- This was a big surprise for everyone.
- It means that we have more work to do.
- We can’t let our disappointment make us bitter or hateful.
- We need to continue to be loving and kind, to show the way.
- Our candidate came the closest of any woman in history to become our president.
- We are proud of her. She has laid the trail for another woman to be the first.
- Even though I feel shocked and sad today, I am still optimistic.
- I will do my part to help heal our country and help make it a better place for all.
My children are in college and both voted in their first presidential election. Our conversation was different. Each on the opposite coast spent the night surrounded by other young people watching in disbelief and many in fear. The following evening thousands of people, mostly young, flooded streets in many American cities, adding to the anxiety, turmoil, and feelings of apprehension and uncertainty.
Uncertain Times Call for Compassionate Measures
That night as always, our family tried to understand those who believe differently than we do. We respect those differences. In between our messages of disbelief, we sent messages of love to each other. We kept in touch — not constantly, but enough. We also tried to see positive things and share them as well.
In the meantime, uncertainty reigns locally, nationally, and globally.
This creates stress and anxiety. We feel that we have no control as we wait, watch and listen. If you feel stress and anxiety you can bet that your kids do too. Even if your kids are too young to be aware of politics, even too young to talk, they can sense when you are uncertain, stressed, or anxious.
One of the best things that you can do for your kids is to manage your own stress and anxiety. Yoga helps to alleviate stress, calm anxiety, and feel more accepting of uncertainty.
Try any one or all of these yoga practices so that you, and your kids, can feel better now.
10 Yoga Practices to Bring Your Family Together
- Be honest. In yoga, we call it satya. Kids sense if you are not telling the truth. However, do keep what you share age-appropriate. Too much information can create stress that wasn’t there in the first place.
- Take action. The karma yogi is the one of right action. Don’t just complain. Decide on what is the right action for you; be better informed, sign a petition, march in protest, donate, or volunteer.
- Let love rule. Gandhi made the yoga concept of ahimsa well known in the Western world through his nonviolent forms of protest. Non-Violence also means not verbally abusing others. Be respectful of others’ points of view. Balance that respect with standing up for your values. Show love. Hug your kids more. Hug your spouse and friends more too.
- Move! Do some yoga postures known as asanas. Any kind of exercise helps diffuse the flight or fight instinct that gets activated in our body. However, yoga can be done just about anywhere, anytime. It can be modified for young children. Let your kids join you if they want.
- Breathe! Yoga breathing, called pranayama, can calm and center you. The more you practice the more effective it becomes. You can do deep breathing and other yoga breathing practices with your kids.
- Center! Get your Zen activated with some meditation. It doesn’t have to be perfect and it doesn’t have to be for long. Taking time to pause and focus inwardly, always pays off. Click here to learn about Omvana, the app for meditation.
- Take good care of yourself. When we are stressed we tend to not eat or sleep as well. Some will overindulge, others skimp, and many resort to less nutritious convenience foods. Sleep may be troubled or we may be staying up too long watching endless news cycles. A yoga lifestyle includes healthy eating and sleeping. Make it a priority for you and your kids.
- Get grounded. Get your feet on the ground! Stand tall. In yoga, we talk about the first chakra or energy center at the base of our spine as the root chakra which connects us with the grounding earth energy. Go outdoors, walk, stand still — whatever helps you to slow down, be in the present moment, and get grounded. If you are spacey and uncentered your kids will be too!
- Be here now. Uncertainty in our lives is like an illness without a diagnosis. We fret and worry about worst-case scenarios. Don’t let negative projections into the future upset an otherwise peaceful time. We may not agree with what is happening. However, you and your children will suffer if you repeatedly focus and what bad might happen. Most yoga practices help you to be more focused on the present moment. Your kids need you to be in the here and now with them.
- Cultivate contentment. Contentment doesn’t mean we don’t take action when action is needed. Anxiety is fueled by keeping your thoughts in the future and the idea of what if. Think of what you can do and do it. Let go of what you can’t do and be content with what you can do. Contentment is known as santosha in yoga. It’s great for kids to observe you practicing it.
What your children need from you now is to be a good role model. Not a perfect one. But a good one. You are good enough.