The Wellness Studio - April 2020

The Wellness Studio APR 2020


CHILDREN DESERVE TO PLAY Supporting Your Kids as They Grow

The following article contains a story that may be traumatic for victims of sexual assault or harassment.

I trusted, like relatives and mentors, I wanted to protect my children from those dangers and the pain they can cause.

Spring always reminds me of Easter, fresh flowers, and children playing. There’s something special about spring: Everything feels new and happy. This year’s change of seasons reminds me of an incident in my past and its influence on the rest of my life. I wanted to share this story and what I learned from my experience with you so that you can see how important it is to make sure children are fostering healthy relationships and enjoying their childhoods. When I was a preteen, I was friends with people who weren’t making great decisions, and I was starting to follow their lead. My dad asked the leaders at the local church to offer me guidance, and looking back, it was a thoughtful choice for any parent to make. My parents trusted them, and I trusted them, and the resulting experience was life-altering, but not in a way any of us could have anticipated. I was supposed to be receiving guidance from the church’s youth minister, but unfortunately, he instead took advantage of me for the next five years. Like any young child in that terrible situation, I was groomed to believe that we were in love. While I’m thankful that I was never physically injured, this experience has had a lasting impact. I was taught unhealthy relationship behaviors, and I can still feel the effects of this trauma today. Sadly, I also later discovered that the church knew about the abuse the whole time. Despite this happening in the church while I was growing up, I still clung to my faith. I still enjoyed my time at the church, made lasting friendships, and had fun. It was a social experience! And even today, when I feel stressed or worried, I turn on gospel music and wonder why I don’t do it more often because it has such a positive impact on me. But I believe this traumatic experience also prompted me to focus on my children very intently when they were growing up. Since I had seen that dangers can lurk even in people

I wasn’t a perfect parent, but my childhood taught me that it’s important for children to foster healthy relationships. Having tough conversations with your child can

be awkward, but they are so vital to your child and their growth. I also believe it’s important to let kids play outside and explore. Many parents — I know I’m guilty of having done this — let the television babysit. When this happens, kids sit inside even when there’s a gorgeous spring day just outside. It’s easy to go on autopilot, but as my children were growing up, and since I’ve become the mom of young adults, I really realize the value of letting kids be kids. And as a parent, I feel it’s important for us to be right by our kids' sides and encourage their curiosity. Today, there are many opportunities for kids to be involved in extracurricular events, and while these activities instill a sense of responsibility in kids, they can also be stifling. It’s important to let your kids know it’s okay to be carefree and that you will always be there to support them, regardless of what they are going through. Spring is all about new beginnings, and kids deserve to be excited about these beginnings! Childhood should be about wonder and exploration, not shame and fear. My hope is that all children are able to look back happily on their childhood once they’re grown. As an adult, I know what happened to me wasn’t my fault, but I do harbor a lot of guilt about it, and that’s not something any kid should experience. Instead, kids should be living carefree and playing outside! I hope you find time to turn off the TV and explore with your kids outside this spring. Get out there and enjoy their childhoods right alongside them!

Have a very happy Easter and spring,

—Denise Dial



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