97. Adult Crises

No matter what your job is, it’s probably not the only thing you think about when you do it. Depending on the job, the other things you think about affect your performance to varying degrees. If your life is in order, and everything is going well (but not so well that you can’t think about your job), your work is usually done better. If there have been bumps in your road, your work is usually affected.
In some workplaces, in response to some kinds of crises, there is a supportive atmosphere. People know something’s wrong, either because you’ve told them, or because they know you, and you don’t have to tell them. They say and do what they can to let you know they care about you. The fact that people work in the same place may start out as a casual coincidence, but people do have a strong tendency to care about each other.
Adults who are having hard times have to be very careful about what they say to children, how they behave when they’re with children. There are normal, everyday ups and downs, and children can often tell whether an adult is having a good or bad day. But when something is really wrong, children may or may not know, and if they do know, they may be curious about what it is.
I’m not a psychologist, and I think I’d better watch what I say on this subject. I’ve been able to write authoritatively on some subjects, be opinionated on some, and sometimes write for fun, using humor when I think it’s called for. But this subject is heavy, and the most I’ll do with it is ask some questions. If there are right answers, I don’t have them. The questions are for you to think about.
When an adult is having personal problems, how much, if anything, should children know about the problems? A teacher who is ill is supposed to stay home. What about a teacher who is going through a personal crisis? What about a parent who is having trouble? Who will mind the children?
I know that the serious personal problems adults have are not for children to deal with. Children may be precocious. They may be unusually perceptive, thoughtful, sensitive. But they are children, and it’s important, in times of crisis, to remember that they are children. There are adults to talk to. If you’re alone, and there are no friends to talk to, there are professionals. If you can’t afford professionals, there are people in religious organizations, or other community service organizations. But children, however much they care about you, need to be children.

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