It's no question that watching the news, especially this year, is difficult. There seems to be nothing but racism and sexism and death and terrorism and bigotry and hate and violence, perpetually discussed on a never-ending news cycle that can evoke an immense amount of fear. I also think, especially this year, that it's important to continue watching the news and to remain informed. However, finding a way to do so without feeling overwhelmed is difficult. Surprisingly, I've found so many reasons why having a kid makes it easier to watch the news; reasons that I didn't think would exist, as my son is easily the main reason why the news is so terrifying.
I want this world to be better for my son, and my son better for this world. I want him to walk into a society that is diverse and tolerant and accepting and safe, and I'd venture to guess most parents want the exact same for their children. When we see the world evolving into something else, something terrifying, we can't help but hold our kid tight and strain through a labored breath and think of the absolute worst case scenario that may or may not come to fruition. We can't help but, you know, panic. These inevitable feelings seem inescapable, especially when you watch the news. It can make tuning into your local television station or a national news network not only exhausting, but an exercise in what can only be described as masochism. I don't blame anyone for choosing not to watch the news, because self-care is important and the news can be devastating and it's affects can be, well, devastating too.
I've learned, though, that my son helps me continue to watch the news in a way that is both beneficial and healthy. I don't fall into a sea of despair and fear, at least not as often as I did before I became a mother. Here are just a few ways having a kid can help you watch the news, and actually make the overall experience somewhat easier.
Your Need To Stay Informed Is More Important Than Your Fear...
Sadly, the first time I really got involved in local, sate, national and world news, was when my younger brother joined the military. I was 20 years old and, suddenly, I needed to know absolutely everything that was going on in the world. The same thing happened when I became a mother. My need to be informed and involved seemed to double, and I realized that part of preparing my son for the world was realizing what kind of world he would eventually be stepping into. If I was going to get him ready, and try to make sure the world was safe(er) for him, I had to stay informed and get involved and do what I could to make it a better world for him and, in turn, make him better for the world. When there's a purpose behind watching news that is otherwise depressing, you can get through it much easier.
...Because You Want To Give Your Kid Answers
I want to know the answers to every question my son inevitably asks me. I want him to care about this community (both big and small) and I want him to be involved and ask questions and see what he can do to make the world better. That means I have to be as informed as possible, so I can help guide him (or at least let him know where he can go for the answers that I won't have).
You Have This Incredible Ability To Look For Any And All Good...
Becoming a mother turned me into a more optimistic person. Before my son was born, I was almost pathologically pessimistic; I thought of very few situations as "glass half full," and was constantly expecting the worst (and, honestly, I was rarely wrong). However, my son is a palpable reminder that there is so much good in the world. Now, when I watch the news, I look for and hold onto that good, because it is there.
...Even If It's Difficult To Find
Of course, sometimes finding the "good" can be difficult, if not seemingly impossible. I've had my fair share of moments when it seemed like the world was an absolute dumpster fire and there was nothing redeeming about the people inhabiting our planet. But then I look at my son, and I realize that just isn't true. He is my constant reminder that there is always good, even when the bad seems to overwhelm it, and if you don't find it at first glance, you just have to keep looking or, better yet, be that "good" you're searching for.
Your Ache And Compassion Reminds You That You're A Great Mother
My heart has softened since becoming a mother, and sometimes I let the message our patriarchal society inundates us with, affect how I view that softness. In other words, I start to think of myself as "weak" or "incapable" or "emotional," when really, it just means that I'm a caring and compassionate individual. When my heart aches for those affected by the latest mass shooting or the latest tragedy discussed ad nauseam via the media cycle that is the news, I remember that I am simultaneously teaching my son to be caring and compassionate, too. I am not weak, and my son won't be either; I am a human, caring about other humans. Is it easy to care? Not always. I'm sure it would be far less painful if I didn't feel solidarity or sympathy or empathy for others, but that is not what I want my son to learn.
Your Kid Reminds You That There's Hope
No matter what is going on in the world, all I have to do is look at my son and realize that things will get better. They have to get better. I will fight for them to get better, because my son (and the sons and daughters of countless others) deserve better. He is my reminder that there is hope, and it's worth holding onto and fighting for and things won't always feel as heartbreaking as they do in any one particular moment.
If It Becomes Too Overwhelming, You Can Simply Stop And Play With Your Kid...
When the news becomes too heavy and I feel an intense need to focus on my self-care instead of the latest headline, I have my son to turn to. I can turn off the television and go outside; watching as my son blissfully (albeit awkwardly) runs around our local park or makes friends so easily with another child. I can read him a book or dance around our living room or snuggle with him and watch Sesame Street. I can turn off the news and focus on him and eventually, when I'm feeling like another news cycle won't leave me too sad to function, turn it back on again.
...And Suddenly Your Fears Seem Far Away...
While I fear for my son's future, sometimes he is able to take those fears away. I see how resilient he is; how strong he his; how confident he is, even as a toddler; how kind he is; how capable he is, and I remember that the fears I have are the fears every parent, during every generation, have also felt. When I can stop and put my (valid) feelings into perspective, my fear feels manageable.
...Because Your Kid Doesn't Care What's On The News
My son also reminds me that while it is important to be informed and to watch the news and to try and do my part, it is also important to stop and focus on the little things; the things that truly matter; the things that I can have a direct impact on, right now. Things like my family and my son learning his colors and letters and going to work to financially provide for my family and reading that one book my son just cannot stop listening to me read. He is my balance when I want to fall down the rabbit hole that is the constant, never-ending news cycle. He is my reminder that there is a way to remain vigilant and informed, without feeling too overwhelmed and taxed.