In the 1998 film "Life is Beautiful," an Italian Jewish father is sent to a concentration camp along with his young son just before World War II ends. His desire to shield his son from the horrors all around sparked an unusual creativity in him that resulted in a continual stream of ways to keep his son from fully understanding the weight of the danger he was in. In the end, he saves not only his son's life, but his tender mind and heart as well.
The movie, critically acclaimed, is a celebration of perspective and resilience. How can life be beautiful in the midst of war, racial genocide, and great loss and destruction? Yet, the movie stands as a testament to parents' great love for their children and desire to see them come through life's difficult seasons with as few scars as possible.
Helping children mend after a great trauma is generally at the forefront of a parent's mind after an event like the one we've recently undergone. The tornado swarm that whipped through the South on April 27 devastated homes and livelihoods, but it also affected many of us emotionally.
We know that post-traumatic stress is associated with the length of a life-threatening and frightening event, the degree of its severity and the losses it causes. Helping children manage their own sense of helplessness, sadness or fear is essential to helping them overcome their emotions and move forward.
Here are some tips from the experts for parents of those affected deeply by the storms:
Tabi Upton, MA-lpc is a therapist at CBI-Richmont Counseling Center and founder of www.chattanoogacounselor.com, an online resource site. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.