What Should Parents Tell Their Children?

Following the Tragedy at Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut
on December 14, 2012

It is so difficult to know the right thing to say. It depends on your child’s age, previous experiences, and temperament (some children are more sensitive than others),

Even though many of our children live far away from Newtown, they may have feelings of fear, anxiety, and confusion. They may ask questions, such as, “Why were the children killed and will this happen in our school?”

  • Answer questions honestly and directly based on your child’s age.
  • Don’t overwhelm young children with too much information.
  • You can assure them that they are safe. The killer is no longer alive.
  • Invite them to speak to you whenever they need to.

With reassurance and love, they should be able to get on with their lives. If not, you may want to seek professional help. At this time, it is also recommended that parents limit  exposure to watching the event on TV and seeing violent movies, and even video games.

Some children may have already experienced violence in their schools through bullying or may have been exposed to violence on their streets or in their homes. Some of these children may experience traumatic symptoms. For younger children, there may be more temper tantrums and nightmares. For older children, there might be sleep disturbances, appetite changes, and lack of participation at home and in school. They may need professional help. You can start with the guidance counselor, social worker, or school psychologist.

Don’t forget yourselves. You too, as parents, have been affected by this horrific crime and may worry about your child’s safety in school. Be sure to share your feelings and concerns with others. You need to take care of yourselves so you can help your children.


Ann Klein – Columbia Marriage and Relationship Counseling teaching couples effective communication skills to resolve conflicts, reestablish intimacy, and restore caring and connection in their relationships.

 

Update on Emotional Affairs

In my previous article (located on my website) on Why Men and Women Cheat, marital researcher Dr. Shirley Glass, author of Not Just Friends, wrote there has been a ‘crisis of infidelity’ in the workplace where both men and women work as peers. This can even occur when the coworkers are in good marriages. She further states that “this infidelity is between people who unwittingly form deep, passionate connections before realizing they’ve crossed the line from platonic friendships into romantic love.” This continues to happen. However, this phenomenon is also going on through the Internet; especially on Facebook. What does this mean?

Couples ask, “Well it’s on the Internet, how can it be an affair?” Even the partner on Facebook claims they have no intention of having an affair. They may say, “I’m just curious what happened to an old ‘love,’ especially my first one.” Do you need to worry?  In many cases, yes.

What is an ‘emotional affair?’ It involves secrecy from your spouse about another relationship; deception-being told ‘nothing is going on;’ when it is; and sharing personal, intimate information with another person instead of with your spouse or significant other. According to Peggy Vaughn, author of The Monogamy Myth and DearPeggy.com website, most people who get involved in an ’emotional affair’ were not looking for one and didn’t intend to have one. According to her research, an‘emotional affair’ between friends and in the workplace can move from emotional connection to a sexual one from six months to a year. Online, the intensity can escalate quickly in less than a week. Why is that?

Dr. Sherry Turkle, author of Life on the Screen: Identity In the Age of the Internet, wrote “It’s what’s withheld that makes these relationships so fantasy-rich and intense.” People are connecting in this fantasy world without really knowing each other. This can become even more intensified when you reconnect with a former love, who may have changed over the years and may not be the same person you met when you were younger. This fantasy can quickly turn to feelings of ‘romantic love,’ whereby each person can experience the ‘chemical high’ of falling in love. In Peggy Vaughn’s research, 79% of people she surveyed who had online affairs claimed they were not seeking an affair and 49% eventually developed into a physical sexual relationship. Dr. Janis Abrahms Spring, the author of After The Affair, wrote that some people compartmentalize the two relationships – they may not want to replace their partner, but may want the ‘extra high.’

So what should you do? Here are some suggestions:

  1. Be aware that many of us can be susceptible to ‘crossing the line’ from friendship to an emotional affair with no intentions of doing so. This is especially true in the workplace where colleagues are working closely.
  2. Be honest with your spouse. For example, if you are having coffee with a colleague every morning (which is not business) or if you bump into an old flame, share that information with your partner.
  3. Dr. Shirley Glass uses images of ‘windows and doors’ as boundaries to safe guard the relationship. Keep the ‘window’ open to your partner, sharing intimate details of your life and keep the ‘door’ closed about your personal life to colleagues or friends, especially those you find attractive.
  4. If you are curious about what happened to your friends from the past, find out together as a couple on Facebook without being secretive or deceptive.
  5. If there are problems in your relationship, find ways to sort them out. If you can’t do this by yourself, you may contact a specialist in couples counseling who can also guide you in bringing more ‘spice and aliveness’ into your sexual life.

Some Website Links for Your Convenience
Shirley Glass
Peggy Vaughn
Sherry Turtle
Janis Abrahms Spring

Ann Klein – Columbia Marriage and Relationship Counseling teaching couples effective communication skills to resolve conflicts, reestablish intimacy, and restore caring and connection in their relationships.