Confronting Reality While Planting Hope
A workshop for parents in the asylum seeker community: A collaboration between the Educational Psychological Service and the Jerusalem African Community Center
In the middle of March, a workshop for parents in the asylum-seeker community was held thanks to a collaboration between the Educational Psychological Service and the Jerusalem African Community Center.
The purpose was to focus on parenting in light of the difficult situation faced by the community, and the dilemma what to expose children to vs how much to shield them from.
Approximately ten mothers and one father participated, most of whom have one to three children between the ages of one to seven. One mother who translated to the group.
The workshop was an opportunity for parents to share their tensions and fears. The discussion included descriptions of fear of imprisonment, drowning, forced labor in Rwanda and even from ISIS. They expressed sorrow for being distant from their extended families. Most of these stories they have chosen not to share with their children due to concern about confusion and fear.
The discussion also included talk of taking action and fighting back, and figuring out a solution. Everyone agreed on the importance of being together with family and friends, prayer, touch and hugs, calming activities such as walking in nature, and laughing.
The second part of the workshop was a chance to talk more about parenting dilemmas such as exposure to media and participation in demonstrations.
There was a distinction made between young children and older ones who can read, hear and comprehend, and all agreed that there is a need to try and regulate exposure to media based on age. It was also agreed that because young children can’t be completely shielded from harsh realities, it’s important to be truthful but hopeful.
It was also pointed out that that even if a child doesn't ask questions or speak, it’s important to notice any changes in behavior such as nightmares, trouble sleeping, or difficulty in school.
The discussion moved onto the normalization of fear, and that it’s completely normal for parents to be afraid.
The workshop ended with the acknowledgement that everyone has their own way of coping.
There is one message that every parent needs to hear, which is that they are all heroes.