May is Children’s Mental Health Awareness Month. All children deserve role models to show them positive ways of living all year round, not just during the one month designated for mental health awareness.
On the Rez there’s always an abundance of unhealthy role models for our children to imitate. Alcohol, drug, gambling and violence addictions are witnessed by our young people more often than healthy life paths are.
Social networking websites which exist today give even more opportunities for people who lack integrity to influence young people. There is a lot of online bullying happening on the Rez. Bullying even happens through text messages. When someone suffers from bullying, it affects their mental health.
People tend to be very bold online. Many who won’t look us in the eye in person have no problem typing hateful words aimed at us in cyberspace. But it may not be disrespect – the person could actually be suffering from mental illness. Consequently, I equate mental illness as disease of the mind.
When our young people go online to visit social networking sites, I am sure they are regularly disrespected by both their peers and mentally ill adults. Parents have a huge influence in their children’s lives. Parents also have the power to ensure their children grow into mentally healthy adults.
This week I was thinking about the phenomenon on the Rez in which adults will teach their children how to carry a generational grudge. That is, many families have been at war for generations over nothing. Now these grudges will happen for a number of reasons and I am sure you can think of many examples without me listing all the scenarios here. In any case, it is not good for the mental health of anyone to go through life carrying a grudge.
It’s even worse when you make your children to carry that grudge for you. For instance, say your mom had a disagreement with your friend’s mom. They are good friends but they have that falling out. You always play with the children of your moms’ friends. Now you are forced to carry their falling out and give up your friends.
Also, the children, pre-teens, teenagers and young adults in the family of the person your mom had the disagreement are either totally ignoring you or else they glare at you when you see them. It’s very unhealthy for mentally ill moms, dads, aunties, uncles, grandpas or grandmas to coach their younger family members to ignore or glare at people.
The falling out we have with another person should be between us as individuals. It’s an extreme example of disease of the mind – which is the exact opposite of mental health – when you force your children to hold grudges against the adults you are pissed at.
It’s terrible when little children grow up to be just as vindictive as their parents or extended family members. This is not a Lakota virtue. It’s up to us to heal our disease of the mind.