The news, our children, and saving the world.

The way we raise our children. {Clean. The LuSa Organics Blog}

Once upon a time I was an NPR news junkie.

I'd listen in my car, at my desk, in the kitchen.

And then I had a baby.

And I kept listening.

And then my baby became a very bright, active, verbal toddler.

And I kept listening.

And then one day I turned on the radio as I so often did, with my two-year old in the room, quietly eating lunch at the table.

As I pushed the power button on the stereo one gruesome sentence from the war in Iraq hung in the air like black smoke around my child and me.

My finger quickly pushed the power button again, but that sentence remained. Hanging there.

I never turned the radio on again.

: : :

I realized in that moment that one important job I have as a parent is to protect my child from things too big and too dark for him to comprehend.

I would not invite those stories into his dreams.

And there was an unexpected benefit that came with this change. I was better for turning off the loop of bad news that I had been marinading in for so many years.

The shadows I had invited into my own world also lessened when I stopped steeping in so much tragic news. My worrying reduced. My anxiety reduced. My light shined a bit brighter.

I saw fewer monsters in shadowy corners than I had in all of my life.

Because you see, I am extremely empathetic and sensitive. (Some might say "to a fault" but I won't go that far. Because often our curse is also our gift.) Hearing bad news can send me into a spiral I can't lift out of for hours or even days. It did then, it does now.

I am not desensitized to the news. I never will be. I never could be.

In fact, I don't want to be. But that means I must be mindful to what I invite in.

And while I have since organized my life to seek my news mindfully, sometimes the tragic stories slip in that I just can't shake off.

It's been that way this week.

The news crept into my life and I laid awake at night, worrying and imagining the incomprehensive horror and pain that seems to touch every corner of the world.

Sometimes it seems like it's everywhere, doesn't it?

And after spending two days mired once more in anxiety and sadness, I chose to snap myself out of it. Because fixating on what is wrong doesn't help anyone.

So I shifted my focus.

Because there is goodness all around us.

(And yes, there are terrible stories too.)

But I believe the good exponentially outweighs the bad. And I will focus on all that is right and good. Around the world and right here in my own backyard.

The mist in the hills, the flowers on the roadsides, the food on our table.

And the children.

These children.

The ones entrusted to me to love and nurture and guide.

Because I can not end the suffering that exists in this world. I can not save everyone.

But as a person who loves a child I do have the power to nurture children who become healthy, kind, gentle, patient, strong adults. 

I can do that. And that's the most measurable positive change for this world that I could ever imagine creating.

 : : :

So today I am recommitting myself to being the parent I want to be.

The healthy, kind, gentle, patient, strong adult that I am.

While I can not end all suffering, I do have the power to nurture goodness in the world. 

"There is no single effort more radical in its potential for saving the world than a transformation of the way we raise our children." ~ Marianne Williamson

Yes. I can do that. And so can you.

Starting now.

Want more parenting inspiration? My "More Peaceful Parenting" series is here.

22 thoughts on “The news, our children, and saving the world.

  1. ann-margaret says:

    Thank you for this. I have been feeling this as well lately and have consciously been stepping away from NPR as background noise. I have always enjoyed catching up with news this way but my bright 5 year old is catching up as well. I turned my radio off too!! I am seriously thinking about taking the month of June (I will be visiting my hometown for the month) and going screen free/news free. I owe it to myself and my children to a) be present in the moment and b) as you mentioned above my job “is to protect my child from things too big and too dark for him to comprehend.” The news is overwhelming and sad & now matter how hard we try or how surface level it may seem we are definitely internalizing it and so are our children. For me it’s about getting back to basics and back to nature. About celebrating the good, the happy, the positive…the many blessings we have in this life. Again, thank you…this really made my day. AM

  2. Johanna says:

    wow, it’s like you took my thoughts and wrote them down. I feel this exact way about the news (and gruesome movies too). Thank you as always for sharing your thoughts and ideas with us.

  3. Cassandra says:

    Oh yeah….I’m totally on the same page with you on this. I choose to tune out the horrors on the news as well. I’ve been doing this for years and I’m certain that I’m a happier person for it. My mom is the exact opposite and we have lots of discussions where I am accused of “hiding my head in the sand”. So thank you for writing about this, because I don’t agree with my mother. I think that choosing to turn off the barrage of negativity and live in my “Cassandraworld” as I call it, is a great place to be!

  4. renee @ FIMBY says:

    Rachel, this speaks really strongly to me right now as it is something I have been dealing with in my own life. I haven’t listened to the news for the last couple years mostly because of all our moving (prior to that I listened to select NPR). While moving so much and getting settled in new places I needed space in my life to breathe and extra audio was not helpful. It was just too much for me.

    I’m feeling the need to re-enter the world a bit. I have been tuned out to politics for years because we couldn’t vote. I feel the need to become informed a bit about what’s going on in the world and be a more active participant in the whole voting scene etc. but I know so little about the issues, etc. (This is canada we’re talking, not US)

    So I started listening to the news selectively and found again I couldn’t. I spend almost all my time with my kids and I don’t want them hearing the things that are on the news. Was the news always like this full of such suffering – crime, disease, etc. Never mind the kids, I can’t stomach the news and I’m not an highly sensitive person but I’ve spent the last few years tuning more into nature than news and I feel I am sensitized again to what our modern society takes for granted and normal. And I think, who can listen to this and sleep at night?

    I don’t want to stick my head in the sand but I also can’t function with that as the backdrop to my life and I want to raise my children to accept a different kind of norm. The norm you describe.

  5. Amber Paris says:

    I wake to work every morning from 5-8 and usually vpr/npr serves as my companion…with daylight creeping earlier and earlier, my earliest riser (7) has been coming in to snuggle up on the papasan chair in the corner of my studio…I have been so aware through the past several weeks of (overly intense, no?) news, that she’s absorbing so much of this fear and sadness and that it is right to protect her…this post spoke to the feelings I’ve been muddling through the past few weeks…thanks!!

  6. Kristina says:

    I have always attempted to protect my children, no 15, 12, and 9, from the news as much as possible. My husband is in the military, and getting ready to leave on his 5th deployment in the last 11 years. During the second one, while I was pregnant with our third child, my oldest son caught a news segment in the lobby at the hospital that talked about all the soldiers dying in the war. He was 5. Before that, he had some emotional problems resulting from having his life disrupted and his beloved father gone, but he wasn’t worried about his father leaving. After that, until my husband returned, G worried about him. I was furious at the hospital for having the news on, but what is a person to do?

    Now, my problem is not so much the news in unexpected places as I’ve learned how to shield them if need be, but well meaning friends who ask if Gary is okay when there’s been some sort of deaths- helicopter down, IED, bombing, etc. I don’t watch the news, or read the news, or listen to the news so that my first inkling there is a problem will be when someone shows up at my front door. Until then, I wish to live in blissful ignorance.

    It’s not that I’m burying my head in the sand, rather that I am choosing to live the life given me in the best possible way. And I want that for my children as well. They have the need, even at the age of 15, to have a sense of well being as much of the time as possible. Thank you for this post.

  7. Rachel Wolf says:

    The “head in the sand” comment is always so interesting to me. Because how is my life more aligned with the world by knowing all of the bad that happens in each tragic detail? It’s not. Not at all.

  8. Rachel Wolf says:

    Agreed. The news is no place for little ears. Or adult ears for that matter. We need the ability to filter what comes in. When I listen to news I am out of balance. When I listen to nature I find the deepest balance of all.

  9. Kelly says:

    I often find that many of us cycle in the same ways, even if we don’t “know” each other. I, too, have found that I’m not turning on NPR as much, if at all, even when I’m alone in the car. I don’t watch TV and have maybe seen two movies this year. There is just to much in the media that feeds by anxiety and the idea that beauty doesn’t exist in the world. I’d rather be noticing the beauty, reading it, viewing it, and sadly or not, to do that, the news is not a source I can turn to. I’m not sure why they don’t find more interest in what is good…

  10. Universityboy says:

    We’re offered so much about all the happenings around the world; mostly problems, disasters, and potential horrors. But for what?

    If it is something I can help to deal with, in whatever small way I can, it helps to be aware. But with major news stories, this is rarely the case for any of us. Even when it is, there are probably less harrowing or sensationalised ways to get hold of the details.

    As you say, sometimes the news slips in. And that’s why your take home message is so important. Thank you. May your shadowy corners contain nothing more than shadows. Even better, I hope the light pours in to give you even more room for joy.

  11. bill says:

    You got me thinking of the different ways the news and movies and whatever else I saw as a child had an effect on me. I remember being confused or wondering about what right and wrong was concerning different things. I’m not a father yet but it still concerns me. I’ve also heard of and wondered about using some infant programs in Minneapolis when that comes but I don’t know the impact this would have since I never went to anything like this. Any insight?

  12. Danielle | Crafting Connections says:

    It has been a long time since I’ve visited this space. Unplugging. Changing priorities. Who knows…

    Anyways, it strikes me that the fact that I found my way back, today, happened for a reason. All of your most recent posts have hit me in a place that, clearly, I needed to be hit.

    This one, in particular, is interesting. I have recently turned off the news myself. Realizing that there was no good coming from knowing about all the darkness. I’m glad to hear there are others like me. And thanks.

  13. Kristina says:

    I thought of your post again Wednesday and yesterday. Wednesday, we finally told the boys their father was going to be deploying. Keeping it from them any longer wasn’t practical, but we wanted to keep that knowledge from them as long as possible. The youngest said something about fighting to which the middle one replied, “Oh, Dad doesn’t fight. He’s a weather guy. He just sits behind a desk all day.”

    I was reminded of this post because while my husband is a weather guy, he’s also special forces. We’ve never tried to hide this from the boys, but we’ve also never told them. And I’m thankful. I’m thankful that their only concern is not having their father being present in their everyday lives. I’m thankful that through the last 15 years we’ve been able to protect them from that added worry. And I’m thankful that he really will just be working behind a desk this time.

    Then, yesterday I was talking to my middle son’s psychologist about him. She was saying that we really couldn’t have waited much longer to tell the boys what was going on. They knew something was up. I’ve always referred to him as my weather vane. His emotions can tell you which way the emotions are running in our house. He takes everything in and gives it back out in droves. And once again I’m thankful that I’ve been so careful to insulate him from the hurt as much as possible. And I’m thankful to know there are other parents out there who are just as careful with their children.

  14. Holly says:

    This is an older post, but I want to say.. I am 100% the same when it comes to hearing the bad stories and being so sensitive to them, from minutes.. to days.. of just feeling bad about what I’d heard. I’ve had to tell people (repeatedly) to please not share these current events with me any longer – unless I could actually help. And on the radio: now I just listen to old country songs….haha
    But absolutely, none of the negative stuff in the presence of my children.
    It’s just so good to know there are people out there that feel the same. It gives me hope for the world when I see a blog entry like this.. and the comments following it.

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