How much would you give to have a safe harbor for your children? The hard truth is that a safe harbor is hard to come by in this current traumatized world.
This past Friday, one of my sons was the safe harbor for the children in childcare at the Nicklaus Children’s Hospital during the multiple bomb threats and, at one point, reports of an active shooter on campus.
While the bomb threat calls were real, there was no bomb. While there was no active shooter, there was an account of a loaded gun later found on the hospital’s campus. Gratitude is a word that barely covers my appreciation for that gun-owner’s having paused in his/her actions just enough to reconsider, drop the gun, and flee.
What a paradox that that person becomes our teacher:
Notice when fear, when any emotion, is hijacking our bodies and minds.
Do something different, something wise.
I am putting out a call to action for you – and it is different than those four steps. It is required as the backdrop for giving your child the safe harbor you seek for them in this world that we can not control.
Do whatever it takes for you to process your fears while you yourself are in a place that is your own safe harbor. In that place, feel the fears, accept them, and surrender. Then find your way back to creating and practicing consciously tuning into your safe harbor feeling. That frees you to practice exuding a safe soothing energy and heartbeat for your children. Heartbeat patterns can be detected five miles away with sensitive instruments. Imagine their impact in the same room.
That safe heartbeat and energy is what gives your children the feeling of safety. Those nonverbal signals are what your children are receiving most strongly and most deeply. You set the tone. Literally and figuratively. It’s in your hands, or more accurately, in your heart.
If they can’t experience a safe harbor with you, where and when can they?
But don’t worry, it’s not all on you. While you are the most readily available and important option, you are not the only option. And failure provides the necessary opportunities for modeling the clean-up (the noticing, stopping, thinking and doing something different that’s wise). You have others on your side. The world has many loving, wise-actioned people in it. Like my son.
He was a safe harbor to those children. During the bomb scare, he led them off campus to the predesignated shelter up the street. He later told me he felt he was the lucky one. For him, there’s nothing like being with children to keep him in the present moment, centered, calm, and present to their presence and to their needs in each moment. He joined them in their world, in play, in joy, and in whatever emotion crossed their radar. With him as their safe harbor, they were physically, cognitively, and emotionally oblivious to the potential danger.
He knew that being their safe harbor was his key responsibility, and he was grateful that serving them well in that served him well, as well. We as parents get to focus on that aspect, too.
But he’s not the parent. I’ve known for 27 years that it is infinitely harder when it’s your child. This time was a case in point. I received the text “I’m fine. I’ll explain later.” First try, I waited, and googled Miami news. Nothing. Waited. Typed “Imagination taking off”. The response was immediate: “Turn it off”. That was the mirror, the cue. I used every trick I had for accessing safe-harbor energy so that I could give that back to him in my next text. That safe-harbor text was met with appreciation.
Which brings me back to the question:
How much would you give to have a safe harbor for your children?
And, I add:
How empowering is it that you need look no further than yourself?
That you have it in you to be the very safe harbor you want for your children?
You can do it. One. Present. Moment. At. A. Time.
I started writing this with no intention other than encouraging you to be your children’s visceral experience of safety, of having a safe harbor. In editing this email, however, I realize that my next offering does provide ways to clear a path for you to be the safe harbor you desire for your children.
I will be facilitating discussion groups for internalizing the messages of the book, “The Awakened Family” by Dr. Shefali Tsabary. Her messages include the message I’ve shared here.
If you’d like to be notified about the final details, please write
“Interested in ‘Awakened Family’” in the subject line at this email address.
With love and hope,