This morning we woke up to a new normal, which includes a stark awareness about the level of bifurcation in our country. Some folks are celebrating the prospect of change — some are very afraid about what this change might mean for their future. There is no question that we face an enormous task in figuring out how to work for the common good when many of us have differing views of what that good should look like.
I believe that Child Life Specialists are uniquely poised to address this rift. We reach out from a strength-based, cooperative front, moving forward from a place of deep inquiry, witnessing and advocacy for those in our care. No matter what our political beliefs, we know the value of the developmental interaction approach. We meet the needs of children and families first by asking what their needs are, then by listening and validating, and then by empowering them to find expressive outlets and coping strategies to address these needs. We facilitate children’s inner abilities to make meaning out of their individual path to healing, whatever that may look like. We do all of this while taking into account the child’s developmental needs and the family’s resources and cultural beliefs. These beliefs often conflict with our own, but we consciously choose to serve our patients with kindness and respect, despite our differences. We seek the common denominator of humanity to find common ground to work from.
We also do this, side by side with medical staff, who often see things very differently than we do. We work in an interdisciplinary fashion to cooperate within the system, being positive members of the team while we gently, firmly advocate for some approaches that may be outside the present medical culture. We make mistakes. We stumble and fall. But we learn from them, reflect upon them with bravery, and get up and try again.
So, let us remind ourselves of the tool kit we have right at hand. Our training. Our leadership skills. Our humanity. Our deep desire to serve and make the world better. Let’s make sure that every staff member we work with, every child in our care, every family member, feels safe and respected within the healthcare environment. Let us ask how they feel, listen to what they tell us, and provide witnessing and reassurance that we will do whatever possible to ensure that their safety and comfort, no matter their color, socioeconomic status, country of origin, religion, gender, sexual orientation or family makeup.
A resource: What do we tell the children?
We can do this.
“Peace in my heart brings peace to my family. Peace in my family brings peace to my community. Peace in my community brings peace to my nation. Peace in my nation brings peace to my world. Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me.” (As Spoken at the Sacred Center- Manhattan, NY)
And listen to this: