It’s a safe bet that every parent of a special needs child would welcome more peace of mind. Family life today is routinely hectic; there is simply too much to do. Add in a super sensitive child who requires extra care and attention, and the need for family peace becomes paramount.
I have a simple suggestion to increase peace within and among family members.
Stop following current events!
Just stop, or at least back off dramatically. Watch no more televised news. Reduce or eliminate your time with newspapers, magazines, and online sources.
And for all those people spewing vitriol on social media? Block them! You don’t need to invite more negativity and stress into your life.
This idea may sound radical to some, especially in this time of social discord. But to me, for families who are already stretched, it is so practical it equates to common sense. I know. Out of necessity, I stopped following current events a decade ago; I know it can help.
I never intended to become an anti-news junkie
But, during an especially challenging time, three incidents made me question the effects of current events on my sensitive family.
- First, my daughter Gracie read a headline in a newspaper left on the kitchen counter. She became terrified for weeks that a serial burglar was going to sneak into her room at night and steal her.
- Then, my parents visited and turned on the local evening news. Elementary school-aged Michael listened to a story about inner city gang violence, and became distraught.
- The next victim was myself! Keenly following the reports of a major flood, I kept thinking about the people who were dramatically rescued with ladders hung from helicopters. I felt their pain, and the pain of their families, who were displaced and had lost all they held dear and familiar.
Eventually I realized that obsessing over a far-away flood was increasing my already high stress levels. I simply couldn’t afford the mental and emotional energy I was putting into following this story. Of course I still had concerns for the flood victims, but beyond donating a few dollars and offering heartfelt prayers, there was little I could do. My energies were needed for me and my family!
Similarly, my daughter did not need to worry about serial burglars, and my son did not benefit from details of inner city violence.
We all functioned better when attending to positive events, closer to home. These other stressors were externally imposed—and unnecessary.
You can take back your power
I chose to reduce my own stress, and that of my children, in whatever ways I could. I canceled the newspaper. We stopped watching all televised news. For a long time, I didn’t even read online news. Despite this, I managed to stay aware of critical information.
It helped; it really did. I’m not saying this was a magic pill, but every little bit of stress reduction for each person in my family was significant.
Unless a job requirement, it’s not imperative
If current event awareness is necessary for you, you might find a good daily or weekly summary, and review it when the children aren’t around. As surely as CNN offers 24/7 coverage, the news will wait for you.
Otherwise, despite popular opinion, and what the media would like you to believe, it is not required for you to keep up with the news in order to go about your daily life.
Cutting out daily news won’t make you lesser of a person, and it won’t lessen your ability to function well in this world. Believe me, you will still find things to talk about with other people.
Somewhere along the line in our culture, the idea of keeping up to date with current events became synonymous with being a good and knowledgeable person. It may go all the way back to the idea of our country’s founding fathers that a good citizen is a well-informed citizen.
But our founding fathers weren’t faced with the constant stream of information in our fast-paced society, nor were they likely responsible for the care of a special needs child.
I’m not suggesting that ignorance is bliss
Please don’t misunderstand—I applaud, admire, and am grateful to those who monitor and stay involved on the local and national scene. They are integral to our society. But not everyone can be involved all the time. I believe that for overly stressed families of special needs children, less is more.
It’s a form of protection
Think about it. If you as a parent are already stressed and stretched to the max, do you really need all the extra negative input that comes from most news stories?
Do your children, who are likely quite sensitive, really need to be exposed to everything they see and hear? Or could perhaps their world be kept a little smaller and a little safer for just a little longer?
Try it for a while. Try cutting out or reducing your intake of current events. And don’t forget to block overly negative people on your social media—you know who they are!
See if this doesn’t create space for a bit more peace for you and your family.
If you don’t like it, you can always go back. But I suspect that—like me—you may find relief from this change in your habits.
Let me know how it goes!
P.S. Here is an article from two years ago about the adverse health effects of too much news. It’s still as pertinent today.