How parents can find peace following Sandy Hook shootings

By Chastity Harris

For the Deseret News

Published: Wednesday, Dec. 19 2012 1:04 p.m. MST

In light of recent events in Connecticut, many of us have lost our Christmas spirit. Some of us even feel like skipping the celebrations altogether.

However, we need to embrace the Christmas spirit like never before.

When my oldest child boarded the school bus on his first day of kindergarten, I smiled and waved like a perky pageant queen. As soon as that four-wheel, sunshine-yellow child thief lumbered off, I burst into tears.

It had nothing to do with my baby growing up but everything to do with losing control.

For the first time I would not know what or how my child was doing all day. I was leaving him to his own devices and the care of strangers.

Even as a working mother I’d been able to call the babysitter, who was also a family member, at any time for updates. I could find out what they were doing, hear his voice or even stop by if I was so inclined.

The beginning of public school changed all that.

Losing control meant gaining fear and anxiety as a parent.

As the world becomes increasingly chaotic and self-destructive, it's easy to feel overwhelmed by despair or even hopelessness. Every newscast seems more tragic than the last.

I can’t control what is happening in our nation or across the world. I can’t turn around the economy. I can’t stop senseless violence. I can’t put an end to hate.

But I can control my little piece of this world.

This holiday season I can celebrate peace, charity and love. I can make my home a place of comfort and joy and teach my children how to spread goodness in their little part of the world.

If many of us choose to act in this way all of our little pieces could add up to something really wonderful.

Darkness and tragedy may be thrust upon us, but it is our choice as to how we react.

What support will we give? What strength will we gain?

I adapted to having children in school as all parents do. The teachers and staff who were “strangers” are now treasured friends. In a school of 1,200 students the phenomenal ladies in the office call me and my children by our first names.

How did I go from terror to trust? I chose to embrace the new environment — jumping in with both feet. Cupcakes for a party? Sign me up. Parent-teacher conferences? Never missed one. Kindergarten Career Day? Who knew you could hold 5-year-olds spell bound with a model of a clogged artery?

By being a positive presence, I have felt more in control of my children’s environment.

This Christmas I’m choosing to make my part of the world as bright as I can, for the sake of my family and my fellow man. Maybe no one else will notice, but I think just making that choice will give me a little more control over the fear and horror that has been reigning unchecked lately.

I will choose where I stand and I will not be moved.

What are you going to choose to do with your part of the world?

Chastity Harris and her husband live in Virginia where they juggle their three beautiful children, a chaotic life and yard full of chickens. You can contact Chastity at chastityh16@gmail.com

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