It’s Time for a Hero Story

While it is true life has been disrupted, how do we make sense of it for our kids?  Their routines are changed; relationships are now managed with social distancing and pods.  We told them tech has its place and now it is where they are getting their schooling.  Social unrest is challenging the questions of right, wrong, what is fair and what is just.  We can’t even answer with assuredness the most fearful questions of Will I be OK? Will you die?

We have never really been able to guarantee the future.  While there have been times of greater predictability, this is not one of them.  Instead, the sense of uncertainty is high and its presence is felt by us individuals and in our relationships.  As adults we can reach out to others and share our concerns, give and receive support and make contingency plans.  When it comes to our kids however, we are their support.  This opens a greater challenge, possibly one of the greatest challenges we will face, as we feel the responsibility of caring for our children physically and emotionally.

It is at a moment like this that my mind turns to the brilliance of comic book heroes.  Each hero has an origin story. Their greatness comes with the humanity of struggles.  In real life, one can look at those who made a difference in history, whether it is Mala, Nelson Mandela, or the Dali Lama.  Our character is forged in how we face adversity.  There have been times of adversity and unpredictability in other generations, whether it was a World War, a plague, oppression, or a natural disaster.  We cannot deny the many challenges of which our children are aware.  We also can’t get paralyzed by them.  Enter the role of the super hero.

Help your child consider the struggles they face.  School, friendships, sports and other activities have all been impacted.  Bruce Wayne witnessed the murder of his parents and later became Batman.  Clark Kent was of a different culture, raised by adoptive parent who supported his difference. Helen Keller, deaf and blind, made great contributions.  A hero is someone who achieves in the face of adversity.  COVID has presented our children with many challenges.  The other side of that adversity is the opportunity to learn something new about themselves.  Digging deep into the moment helps us move from the anger, sadness, loneliness, and frustration to resilience, creativity, and innovation.  We love a hero because they are sources of inspiration.  Perhaps, in this time of adversity, we are being given the opportunity to become inspired.  What internal resource, drive, or passion can be fostered?  This time can open the door to discover the hero within each of us.

What is their challenge?  If it is managing their emotions, they can discover more about themselves.  Why are they so passionate?  While they struggle, it means they have the gift of energy to drive them towards their goals.  How do they learn to tame their emotions so their drive can help them succeed?  This journey will grow their understanding of themselves and others to lead or advocate.  If it is boredom, what is it that they seek and how can they create for themselves things that will intrigue them?  Boredom is the soil of creativity from which they may discover a talent or passion (art, music, cooking, gardening, innovation, etc.).  It may open the door to looking to care for others or helping neighbors impacted by COVID.   The question can be asked, what can I do to contribute, or aid others?  Each of these avenues are doors from fear, hopelessness, helplessness, and powerlessness to self-direction, efficacy, and vitality.  Each step, as small as it may seem, is an act of heroism; not allowing defeat, and carving a new direction.  There are many stories that will be told of this challenging time in our history.  As our children are living it they are writing their personal story of struggle, survival, and heroism.

About the Author

Debra Kessler, Psy.D. Debra Kessler, Psy.D. is a licensed clinical psychologist who specializes in the care of children and their families. Dr. Kessler was awarded her Bachelor of Science in Nursing, graduating Magna Cum Laude from Vanderbilt University. While working as an RN in Pediatric Intensive Care, she pursued a Masters Degree in Pediatrics from UCLA to further her skills in caring for children. After a career in nursing that included bedside nursing, Kessler chose to focus her attention on addressing the emotional needs of children and their families by obtaining a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology at California School of Professional Psychology. Her post-doctorate work was done with Child Development Institute treating autistic and developmentally challenged preschool and young children and at Reiss-Davis Child Study center addressing the needs of school children, adolescents and their families. She has contributed to Infant/Child Mental Health, Early Intervention, and Relationship-Based Therapies: A Neurorelational Framework for Interdisciplinary Practice (Lillas &Turnbull 2009). Dr. Kessler has an active practice in Montrose, California. In a family centered manner, she treats a range of developmental and emotional issues including adoption/attachment difficulties, bipolar disorder, anxiety, depression, autism/Asperger’s syndrome, ADHD, learning challenges, regulatory difficulties and other issues that interfere with children reaching their potential.

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