When our daughters were little, they used to see the ubiquitous “shadow monsters” that loomed in their bedrooms as they lay in their beds at night, the same monsters that I saw when I was a child. Like their parents before them, they were comforted by a warm hug, kiss, and the reassurance that there was no such thing as monsters. It was only their imagination playing tricks on them. The monsters only existed in fairytales and books, books that although scary, they enjoyed reading.
Today’s youth are constantly bombarded by news that make yesterday’s writers of frightening fantasy fiction seem tame. With so many young children surrounded by monsters, it isn’t easy to allay their fears, especially since we, as grownups, also see monsters in our midst. These past few years have been especially difficult for young children. Trying to shield them from the proliferation of negative NewsBreak that the media spews forth on a daily basis has become an impossible task.
As a mother, grandmother, and former teacher, I have learned that children are keen observers of the world around them. Unfettered by adult responsibilities, they are tremendously sensitive to emotional changes in family dynamics. It is no small wonder why child psychologists are overbooked with all that has occurred within these past few years: COVID, remote learning, school shootings, unemployment, war in the Ukraine, division within our government, flight cancellations, landslides, exorbitant gasoline prices… It is difficult for adults to mask their feelings in this all-pervasive atmosphere of unpleasantries, hence there is no safe refuge from the social ills surrounding children on a daily basis.
As I write this, I question what we doing for the children of our country, the country that has always proudly proclaimed that its future lies in the hands of its young. How do we remove the monsters that come to haunt them? How do we spare them the ugliness of horrific news that sells our newspapers, gets “hits” on Social media, and weighs heavily on the adult population? There can be no doubt that the media can be a powerful ally in changing the course of negativism that seems to have infiltrated our daily lives. Now is a good time for the media to pick up the gauntlet and assist in returning the sense of optimism that served as the foundation of our democracy. I was happy to see that the Washington Post is doing just that. Their recently initiated newsletter, The Optimist, is publishing uplifting stories for its readers. Good for the Washington Post for taking the initiative to restore hope to its readers.
It is time to put those monsters in the lives of our children to rest.