Raising Healthy Kids in a Hate-filled World

Tasha Levert honestly

I am a mother of three girls, and for me, raising healthy kids today’s world feels impossible at times. So far in 2016 we have grieved as we watched Brussels, Orlando, Istanbul, Nice, and many other cities come under terrorist attack. We have struggled to determine which life matters most. We have questioned the right to stand or sit during the National Anthem. We have searched to find truth in a brutal fight for the US Presidency. Hate narratives fill our newspapers, airways, and social media feeds making it hard to see good in humanity. Below are some simple ideas for helping kids find love in an angry world.

  1. Look for the helpers. When bad things happen, I encourage my kids to look for the helpers. Look for the heroes carrying the weak. Look for the first responders, the life-riskers, and the difference makers helping the hurting. Look for the peacemakers standing for justice, kindness, and love. Too often the helpers do not get as much attention as the oppressors, but teaching our kids to lean in close to find the helpers could be their first step – no matter how small – away from hate and fear.
  2. Tell the love narrative. My family lives in Louisiana, and our state has had a rough summer. In July, news crews flocked to broadcast the hate narrative of the shootings in Baton Rouge. The world watched as hate-filled violence permeated our streets. However, in August, when a flood devastated that same city along with much of south Louisiana affecting over 500,000 people – 11% of our population – news crews didn’t appear interested in the story.

I value justice, and I believe difficult stories need to be told. Shouldn’t stories of human struggle, perseverance, and love be told as well? Doesn’t a world overwhelmed by terror need to know about the one-another stories happening all around them? Stories of neighbors helping neighbors, of families opening their homes to strangers, of fishermen using their boats to rescue people from their flooded homes (do a web search for “Cajun Navy”), and of cooks showing up to shelters with their personal grills and gumbo pots to feed flood victims. Hate narratives might sell newspapers, but a love narrative – the Kingdom of God narrative – inspires people to live differently. Easy ways to speak a love narrative in the everyday includes:

  • Post your opinions on why you will vote for a candidate, instead of your opinions of dislike and disdain.
  • Post reasons why you like a store, instead of ranting about a store’s failures.
  • Talk about the good in life, the things for which you are thankful, and the things that bring you joy.
  • Speak kindness to and about others, and reject gossip.
  • Tell and repost stories highlighting the helpers.
  • Tell people you love them, and then tell them why.
  1. Do Love Today. When hate and disaster hit a community, the first question people ask is, “What can we do?” One thing I’ve learned this summer is the answer to that question could be “Do Love.” After the shootings in Baton Rouge, my kids and I decided to write “Do Love Today” on signs and sticky notes and post them throughout our city. We had such a great experience that we invited our church’s youth group and college ministry in on the fun (my kids are teenagers). Since then, we’ve posted our slogan on social media (follow us @dolovetoday), and we’ve continued to live into the “Do Love Today” story.

If you and your kids would like to take part in the #doLOVEtoday movement, I’ve included a color sheet to print, share, and hang up around your town. All you and your kids need are a few crayons and some tape to make a difference. Tag us on social media, and we’ll give you a shout out!

Love is contagious, and love changes everything. As a mom, I can’t control what goes on in this world, but I can lead my kids to choose and trust in the power of love. How do we raise healthy kids in a hate-filled world? With love. Lots and lots of love.


 

Tasha Levert, Ph.D., is a licensed professional counselor in New Orleans who provides face-to-face and online care. She is a conference speaker, worship leader and the author of  Stories of Hope for the Sleep Deprived. Tasha and her husband Tim (Pastor with Students at the Vineyard Church of New Orleans) have three beautiful daughters and a lazy schnauzer named Gumbo.
To find out more about Tasha or her practice go to
tashalevert.com or broomtreecounseling.com.