We need to occupy the role of parenthood in an entirely different way. With a renewed curiosity, a heightened awareness, a transformed commitment. Because nothing like parenthood, needs to be at the forefront of our global consciousness. It is the call, the lynchpin, that affects how our children will thrive. Everything; how they will take care of themselves,each other, the Earth, show compassion, tolerate differences, handle their emotions, create, invent, innovate… It all starts with us and how we parent.
Charisse Nixon is a development psychologist who studies at risk behavior as well as protective factors among children and adolescents. According to Nixon, we know that kids and adults are suffering. In fact, some research studies have shown that rates of depression and anxiety have actually increased over the past 50 years. According to recent research, we know that approximately 1 in 5 youth will suffer from a major depressive episode by the time they leave high school. In the middle of our fast paced, technologically driven world, adolescents stand before you — searching for purpose… searching to fit in and belong. After decades of research of those who have studied this field, one thing is very clear: meaningful connections serve as protective factors in the lives of our youth. Nixon shares her ideas on how we can help our youth build those meaningful connections.
I’ll move on to taboo number two. You can’t talk about how lonely having a baby can be. I enjoyed being pregnant. I loved it. I felt incredibly connected to the community around me. I felt like everyone was participating in my pregnancy, all around me, tracking it down till the actual due-date. I felt like I was a vessel of the future of humanity. That continued into the the hospital. It was really exhilarating. I was shower with gifts and flowers and visitors. It was a really wonderful experience, but when I got home, I suddenly felt very disconnected and suddenly shut in and shut out, and I was really surprised by those feelings. I did expect it to be difficult, have sleepless nights, constant feedings, but I did not expect the feelings of isolation and loneliness that I experienced, and I was really surprised that no one had talked to me, that I was going to be feeling this way. And I called my sister whom I’m very close to — and had three children — and I asked her, “Why didn’t you tell me I was going to be feeling this way, that I was going to have these — feeling incredibly isolated?” And she said — I’ll never forget — “It’s just not something you want to say to a mother that’s having a baby for the first time.”
And I just remember feeling all these stories came out of the woodwork, and I felt like I happened upon this secret society of women that I now was a part of, which was reassuring and also really concerning. And I think, miscarriage is an invisible loss. There’s not really a lot of community support around it. There’s really no ceremony, rituals, or rites. And I think, with a death, you have a funeral, you celebrate the life, and there’s a lot of community support, and it’s something women don’t have with miscarriage.
The parenting section of the bookstore is overwhelming—it’s “a giant, candy-colored monument to our collective panic,” as writer Jennifer Senior puts it. Why is parenthood filled with so much anxiety? Because the goal of modern, middle-class parents—to raise happy children—is so elusive. In this honest talk, she offers some kinder and more achievable aims.