A is for addiction

One of my most vivid memories from kindergarten is sitting in a circle with my classmates and discussing what emotion we were feeling that day. Fast forward to my college career, and I can confidently tell you academics is just one of the many ways you learn in higher education.

For myself, learning how to make my health and wellness a priority – and realizing self-care isn’t selfish – has been one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned.

I guess kindergarten and college aren’t so different after all.

I am grateful to have had a mostly positive childhood, but unfortunately that is not the case for every kid. Many of the lessons I learned in kindergarten were outside of the classroom and often from watching shows on PBS after school. 

This includes “Sesame Street.”

The 50-year-old TV show has sparked some controversy within the past couple days by introducing a new character who sheds light on opioid addiction. The new Muppet, Karli, reveals to Elmo and other friends she has been living with a foster family while her mom deals with a “grown up problem.”

Many people are upset “Sesame Street” would expose children to such an issue.

I, myself, applaud their decision.

I think the way the show makes topics such as addiction, autism, and parents in prison palpable for their audience is admirable – and should be encouraged.

Yes, Karli’s mom is dealing with a “grown-up problem,” but we can’t ignore these problems affect children, too.

I feel being more honest with children is overall better for their development.

No, I’m not a psychologist. I’m also not a parent, I’ll admit, I’m not even an aunt – but I was a child not too many years ago.

Addiction is scary for everyone involved, and no matter the issue, it is important to support children and assure them they are not alone.

The more we normalize talking about our issues, the more acceptable it will be for people to reach out for help and support.

When I was younger, the only thing more frightening than a “grown-up problem” was feeling alone. Talking through our issues with our support systems, and sometimes fellow Muppets, is a much healthier way to cope with what we’re going through.

Children are no exception.

By no means am I telling anyone how to parent – I simply think it’s important to prepare children for life in a healthy way.

As my new favorite character Karli says, “If you’re going through a tough time, I’ve learned that it’s OK to be sad or mad or scared. It’s OK to talk about those things. It feels good to talk about those things.”

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