Family separation policy: How do you explain it to your kids?

Different symptoms of trauma can still occur as an observer

Hadas Kuznits
June 20, 2018 - 3:17 pm
Protester Melissa Houtte holds her sign while Sen. Bill Nelson and Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz address the media after being denied access to visit the Homestead Temporary Shelter for Unaccompanied Children on June 19, 2018 in Homestead, Fla.

Susan Stocker/Sun SEntinel/TNS/Sipa USA

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — With all the news surrounding the Trump administration's immigration policies, how do you explain to your children deportation and family separation?  

Therapist Shadeen Francis with Council for Relationships said when speaking to children, it's important to be honest with them about the news in ways that are developmentally appropriate — and it's also important to be honest about your own feelings.

"Your self-care comes first, and I know that's a hard thing for parents to hear," she said, "but anyone who's flown knows that you have to put your own oxygen mask on first."

RELATED: Local trauma doctor weighs in on Trump administration's separation policy

Francis noted if you're feeling uneasy about the current immigration crisis, you could be experiencing trauma yourself as a witness to all that's happening in the country.

"Vicarious trauma can show up in a lot of different ways. Most commonly, it starts to look like actual trauma symptoms," Francis explained. "So maybe it's intrusive thought, maybe it's sleep disturbances, appetite changes are common."

One method of self-care is to participate in social change, which Francis said is perhaps why we are seeing so many children participate in protests alongside their parents nowadays.

"When we look at most of these social movements that are happening now," Francis continued, "there are young people that are getting involved."