As the earthquake shook, shuddered and lurched, I held my son tightly. Gripped by primal fear, I had the horrific realisation I might fail, as a mother, to protect my children. Glass smashed, wood splintered, and brick chimneys crashed through roofing iron. Our fragility was in stark contrast against this monstrous force of nature.
In the following months, I guided my children through the trauma and the changes caused by that experience. They became my greatest teachers. They were unflinchingly vulnerable, honest and questioning as they reconciled their feelings, memories and physical bodily responses. They taught me, unfiltered, what it looks like to take on trauma and to release it. During times they needed my presence and attention, I learnt more patience. I developed more compassion, not just for them, but also for myself in appreciating how time and expression play an unavoidable role in healing.
Young children make no excuse for the journey of their healing process; unlike us, they haven’t been conditioned to ‘put on a brave face’. For my own healing to occur, they taught me to surrender to the nature of that journey. I noticed that, as long as we provided love and continuity, they’d easily adapt to the changes around them. We had to move house four times in two years. They showed me that home is not a ‘what’ or a ‘where’, home is a ‘who’. In material terms, the earthquake took a great deal, but what it gave us were the seeds from which our resilience grew.
As parents, we’re all just ‘winging it’ Added to the mentally, physically and emotionally demanding nature of parenting itself, the pressure to get it right for our kids is all too real. Not to mention, juggling life’s other responsibilities. It’s no wonder our anxiety is skyrocketing. Being a primary caregiver, especially when children are very young, can bring feelings of isolation, inadequacy and overwhelm. This was certainly my experience and a sentiment shared by my peers. I felt what many other parents must feel— through the most defining moments of our children’s lives, it seems like we’re just ‘winging it’, making it up as we go along. For a child, every new milestone or event has magnitude; their frame of reference for life’s experience is limited to the few years they’ve spent living it. While it’s almost impossible for us to relate to, it’s these experiences that are shaping their lives. I no longer wanted to feel I was ‘winging it’, I wanted to have the right words at the right moment.
Making parenting a little bit easier
Discussing this with friend, and now business partner, Flicka Williams, we talked about how we could make the tricky job of parenting a little bit easier. We had the idea to create personalised children’s books that would foster resilience, confidence and adaptability through big events in kids’ lives. Underpinning each book concept would be consultation with child development, neuroscience and play therapy experts, so parents could feel confident in the credibility of the ideas and techniques interwoven throughout the stories. Research studies have found personalisation to be an effective way to inform, engage and enchant children, helping them to absorb and recall information encountered through storytelling. Thinking innovatively, we decided to make use of the latest digital and print technologies.
How to raise resilient kids
Resiliency in kids is primarily determined by strong emotional connections with parents and caregivers in an environment that feels safe and secure. That quiet story time, when parent and child sit together, creates the perfect situation for building those strong, secure connections. By exploring the story’s ideas and discussing how to handle their own situations, kids learn that when they need somewhere reliable to go to for help and support, they will find that with their parents. Reading a My Big Moments book creates a powerful dynamic for supporting children’s development. Through engaging storytelling, well-researched concepts, and encouraging one-on-one time for parent and child, the books are an effective but playful way for kids to approach big moments in life with curiosity and confidence.
Hannah Davison is the author and co-founder of the award-winning initiative, My Big Moments, a series of personalised kids books designed to help children cope with challenges, changes and milestones they face. There are currently five titles in the My Big Moments book range:
- Ready for School
- The Hospital Visit
- Goodbye Comet
- Baby on the Way
- That’s Not the Plan
Find out more at mybigmoments.com