Re-Entry: A Parenting Conference for Navigating the Post-Pandemic New Normal aired Aug. 7. This joint venture with The Peaceful Project, Whole Hearted Parenting and The Santa Fe New Mexican had been in the works for many months — beginning so long ago that we thought by August we would be saying farewell to the pandemic as we eased into some kind of “new normal.”
We now know that isn’t the case. The pandemic is not over. The great news is everything covered by the six speakers at the conference was highly meaningful for our current, changing world. What they presented will support all of us as we move forward into whatever term we would like to bestow upon our immediate future.
Of the many major nuggets from the conference, one big takeaway was about feelings. Feelings were woven into the presentation of every speaker.
In her talk, “The Four Pillars of Self-Care,” Pam Dunn emphasized the importance of caring for our emotional self. That level of self-care means noticing, feeling and honoring our feelings. It means recognizing that although our feelings do not define who we are, they can guide us and we can learn about ourselves from them.
The nugget: We can clearly teach our children to feel and honor their feelings by demonstrating how to do it. It begins with us caring for ourselves.
In discussing trauma and resilience, Morgan Lindsey spoke about a recent experience in which she felt afraid. She noticed how people’s attempts to “fix it” for her were not providing any relief. What she discovered was that the more she was able to validate her own feelings and advocate for herself, and the more others validated her feelings, the more centered she began to feel.
The nugget: We do not need to shift into “fix-it” mode with our children or with ourselves. Instead, we can validate our own feelings and those of our children. We can serve as a mirror rather than a mechanic.
Dr. Lisa Damour, in her discussion on anxiety, shared one aspect of her definition of good mental health and well-being — feeling the right feeling at the right time. If a good friend moves away, we might feel sad. If someone doesn’t follow through on an agreement, we might feel angry. Good mental health is feeling a wide range of feelings. It is not feeling relaxed and calm all the time.
The nugget: Feelings — even those that are uncomfortable — serve a purpose. Anxiety has a highly useful and logical purpose. It gets our attention so we can keep ourselves safe.
Each speaker went to great depths, and I highly encourage you to watch the entire conference from The Santa Fe New Mexican’s Facebook page. There is a wealth of valuable information to guide you in these uncharted waters that we can’t yet call the “new normal.”