In Family Support, Locals Talk

Incredible Sadness – and the Powers We DO Have!

by Irene van der Zande, Kidpower Founder and Executive Director

Like countless others, I feel incredibly sad about the suffering and destruction caused by the war in Ukraine and wars anywhere; by this whole pandemic; by violence and abuse in families and in communities; by natural disasters; and by tragic accidents.

And I wish with all my heart that I could do more to help!!!

When I was a child, walking in the desert that was my home, I used to dream about saving the world, somehow having the magic power to make sure that no one was cruel to anyone and that everyone did the right things with each other, with every being, and with every part of our beautiful earth.

My little dog Bonnie chased jack rabbits bigger than she was, fortunately never catching any of them, and then ran panting back to me to be petted.

Instead of seeing the sand, rocks, sagebrush, nearby hills, and distant view of mountains around me, I imagined stopping all wars and any big earthquakes, bringing back my family members lost in the Holocaust, and making sure that people who were starving had plenty of delicious food to eat.

It sure felt good to believe for a little while that I had that kind of power!

And unfortunately, it almost certainly would NOT have gone well if I really did!

It took many hard experiences over many years before I was able to accept my limits and to figure out how to recognize and use fully and wisely the powers that I – and all of us – DO have.

We all have these powers:

  • to learn; to love; to be kind; to connect; to respect;
  • to speak up for ourselves and others; to ask; to write; to listen;
  • to try to understand; to give; to teach;
  • to notice and thank the helpers in our lives, even if they are not perfect;
  • to figure out and stay true to our own values;
  • to take good care of our loved ones and ourselves;
  • to advocate for what we believe is important;
  • to pick our battles; to stay aware; to recognize and move away from trouble;
  • to be strategic and reduce our risks if we cannot leave a dangerous situation or if we decide that we need to be there;
  • to manage our emotional triggers so we can think clearly and stay in charge of what we say and do;
  • to put safety ahead of fame and fortune and of uncomfortable feelings like fear of fear of bothering, annoying, or offending someone;
  • to be aware of potential emergencies and get prepared;
  • to accept disappointment and choose when to let go and when to not give up;
  • to persist in setting boundaries even if people don’t listen or get upset;
  • to be wise in how we use our time, energy, and resources;
  • to be careful about who we choose to trust and realistic about what they can and cannot be trusted for;
  • to find, cherish, celebrate, and support those who make our world a better place;
  • to ask for help and to keep asking until we get the help we need;
  • to pray if we believe in prayer;
  • to send and hold good thoughts whatever we believe;
  • to face with courage the hard and sad things we cannot change;
  • and to, when we decide that doing so is right for us, change the things we can.

These powers have their own kind of magic in helping us to enjoy and make the most of our lives.

Wishing each of you peace, hope, health, safety, love, and happiness, always.

– Irene, Kidpower Executive Director & Founder

Irene van der Zande, Kidpower Founder and Executive Director

Kidpower Founder and Executive Irene van der Zande is a master at teaching safety through stories and practices and at inspiring others to do the same. Her child protection and personal safety expertise has been featured by USA Today, CNN, Today Moms, the LA Times, and The Wall Street Journal. Publications include: cartoon-illustrated Kidpower Safety Comics and Kidpower Teaching Books curriculum; Bullying: What Adults Need to Know and Do to Keep Kids Safe; the Relationship Safety Skills Handbook for Teens and Adults; Earliest Teachable Moment: Personal Safety for Babies, Toddlers, and Preschoolers; The Kidpower Book for Caring Adults: Personal Safety, Self-Protection, Confidence, and Advocacy for Young People, and the Amazon Best Seller Doing Right by Our Kids: Protecting Child Safety at All Levels.

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