Caring for ourselves helps us to better care for our families, especially during times of extreme stress. This post is being written during the time of the Covid pandemic: children are learning from home, grownups are struggling with work, people are scared, and stress is running high. It is In these times, more than ever, that parents and caregivers need to take care of their needs, to fill themselves up so they have enough care, patience and time to share with their families.  The Child Mind Institute has put together a wonderful article for caregivers on prioritizing their own well-being in order to benefit the whole family. Here are the main takeaways:

  1. Make time for yourself
  2. Prioritize healthy choices
  3. Be realistic (my favorite!)
  4. Set boundaries
  5. Reconnect with things you enjoy

We know it's easy to say, but not always easy to do. The library is here to help:

  1. If it would help to have the kids entertained so you can have quiet time, check out our storytimes and events for kids! These are always changing, so check back often.
  2. If you are looking for healthy recipes or exercises, we have thousands to choose from!
  3. We have books to help you set boundaries, help you set realistic expectations, and to give yourself a break
  4. If one of your favorite activities is sitting down with a good book, or watching a fun show, or listening to some beautiful music, we can help recommend any of those things for you. Check out the My Librarian group for a great suggestion (or 20!).
  5. If you want to learn something new or get back into an old hobby, we have lots of ways to help you get started. Just connect with us.

We are here to help, so please let us know what we can do for you, and for your family! You can leave a comment below, or email us directly at learning@multcolib.org. Also consider signing up for our monthly Family Newsletter. Take care!

sign that says, "my pronouns are ____/ _____"
Youth who identify as LGBTQ+* benefit from a supportive network of family, friends, and peers, especially during times of stress and isolation.  Here are some organizations and resources that can help provide that support.

Local Resources for LGBTQ+ youth

  • Sexual & Gender Minority Youth Resource Center (SMYRC) has served local youth since 1998.  They provide empowerment, community building, education and direct services. 
  • Oregon Youthline is a local 24-hour youth crisis and support service.  Help is available via phone, text, email, or chat.  Youthline is staffed by trained teen volunteers from 4-10 pm daily.
  • GSA Network supports Gender & Sexualities Alliance (GSA)  groups that unite LGBTQ+ youth and their peers.  They also provide tips on how to run virtual GSAs.
  • Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) Oregon chapter of the national organization that supports every student’s right to a safe, supportive education. 
  • Pride Northwest has a mission: to encourage and celebrate the positive diversity of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans communities, and to assist in the education of all people through the development of activities that showcase the history, accomplishments, and talents of these communities.

 

neon rainbow with "Love is Love" signs in the background
Virtual Resources for LGBTQ+ youth and those who support them

  • Gender Spectrum free online support groups for LGBTQ+ youth, parents and caregivers.  Groups also offered for parents/caregivers in Spanish.
  • Q Chat Space a safe space for LGBTQ+ teens to connect
  • Trevor Support Center provides resources and counseling via phone and chat. TrevorSpace is an international community for LGBTQ+ young people. 
  • PFLAG is the nation's largest family and ally organization, founded in 1973 after the simple act of a mother publicly supporting her gay son.
  • It Gets Better Project over 60,000 diverse video stories, all on a single theme.
  • Trans 101: Gender Diversity Crash Course helps people better understand what it means to be trans, and how we make the world a safer and happier place for trans and gender diverse people.  Available as a video series or booklet.
  • An age-by-age guide to talking to your kids about gender from Today's Parent.  No matter your kid's age, it's not too early (or late!) to talk to them about gender. Here's how to start the discussion, and keep it going as they grow.  

 

LGBTQ+ Booklists

Support can also come in the form of reading books and watching media with LGBTQ+ representation.   Your library is full of books for kids and teens that feature LGBTQ+ characters.  Explore the reading lists below, or ask us for a recommendation

*LGBTQ+ stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer or Questioning.  The + is meant to include all gender identities and sexual orientations not covered by the other letters.  Read What Does LGBTQ+ Mean? for more information.

“Enjoy the little things. For one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.” – Robert Brault

Life is full of unknowns and uncertainties. Children of all ages are sensitive to stress in their families' lives. Children feel emotions very strongly, but they don't always have the words to describe how they're feeling. Talking with even very small children about fears and sadness can help them feel more secure. And talking to them about gratitude can help as well!

Take time to pause and notice aloud the people and things you are thankful for every day. Kids are always listening and they pick up on our moods - negative and positive. Gratitude, or thankfulness, feels good! And it is really good for us, too! Scientists who study the brain tell us that positive emotions like appreciation and gratitude are good for our brains, our minds and even our bodies.     

Being thankful lets us balance out the negative emotions like fear, anger and anxiety that creep in. The incredible thing about gratitude is that it grows and increases the more we practice it. One positive thought can lead to dozens more. This type of positive thinking decreases stress and anxiety in people of all ages. 

It's been said that gratitude is like taking a U-turn on complaining and negative thinking. A game my family sometimes plays is "Unfortunately, Fortunately." It's fun for road trips or even when sitting around the dinner table. "Unfortunately, all my soccer games have been canceled, but, fortunately, we have had extra time to play lots of games together." 

It's about focusing on what's good in our lives and being thankful for the things we have. "Unfortunately, Poppy can't come and visit us on Sundays now, but, fortunately, we can draw pictures to send to him! And we get to walk to the mailbox!"

Teaching children an attitude of gratitude is as simple as helping them look at different situations from a positive point of view. It’s about focusing on what’s good in our lives, noticing the small things, appreciating and being thankful. We can model gratitude and appreciation for our children. We all take things for granted, but taking time to name those things reinforces trust, calm and joy.

Here are some things you can try with your family:

  1. Keep a running gratitude list on the refrigerator. Bigger kids can write the words and little ones can draw. Each day the list can be revisited. What makes you happy? Watching a puppy play,  helping dad cook? Add what makes you grateful? A sky full of stars,  the hummingbird at the window, a hug? 
  2. Try the Gratitude ABCs. Go through your ABCs and take turns coming up with something you are grateful for, for each letter. I am grateful for Apple pie, and Basketball, and Cats… This also works as a great tool for helping someone fall asleep. Get comfortable and concentrate on your Gratitude ABCs. The next day you can think about what letter you fell asleep on. 
  3. Practice sharing and giving. Share first within the family and then spread to the wider community. An older child can pass on treasured toys or collections to a younger sibling. Have a basket or bag for items that can be donated to those who may need them. Clothing, toys, food for a food bank. Go together to deliver them when the basket is full.
  4. Express gratitude with acts of kindness. “We have so many tomatoes. Let's bring some over to our neighbor. Maybe she would like some of these flowers, too.” “ Let’s ask Mr Jones if he needs anything when we go to the store. And I know he loves your drawings.”
  5. Gratitude can start right now. I bet we can think of three things right now that make us feel thankful. Maybe you'd like to send a note to someone showing your gratitude!

And of course, there are always books! The titles below can help you start conversations about gratitude with the young folks in your life.

Want to learn more tips on talking with kids, please sign up for our Family Newsletter.  And we are always available to help support families, especially through Home Learning. Connect with us at learning@multcolib.org

Did you know that young children begin to notice and point out the differences they see in people as early as six months? This ability to put things into categories like "safe to eat" and "hungry animal to run away from" has helped humans survive over hundreds of thousands of years. But if we aren't paying attention, it can also lead to making oversimplified generalizations about people, and those stereotypes can be harmful. 

Because even babies are starting to sort people into categories, it's never too early to start talking with children about the stereotyping they will observe in the world around them, and help them question and push back against it. Here are some ideas for talking about stereotypes in a very kid-friendly way:

  • Ask your child to draw or describe someone from a specific category, such as "girl" or "boy". Chances are you'll hear things like, "girls have long hair" or "boys are messy" which gives you an opportunity to talk about people you know who may not fit those stereotypes. For example in my family, mom is a messy woman with short hair! 
  • Children's books can be a great way to start conversations, so as a family, do a "diversity audit" on books in your own home! Look for stereotypes and bias in your own books, or books you have checked out from the library, using some of these criteria. Be sure to talk about it as you go. You can use words like “fair/unfair” when talking about stereotypes you find in your books. For instance, “Wow, this picture book only included white male inventors. That’s unfair. Black women invented lots of things, too. Let’s read about some African American women inventors.” I guarantee you will learn a lot from the experience!
  • Look for books specifically written to talk with young children about stereotypes and how to celebrate differences: Here is a book list to help get those conversations started. 

These activities can be done any time of year. Here in the U.S, November is a time when we celebrate Native American Heritage Month and Thanksgiving, which gives extra opportunities for non-Native families to talk about stereotypes specific to Native Americans and Indigenous people. For example, ask your child to draw a Native American dwelling or home. Talk about how most Native and Indigenous families live in houses and apartments. They are modern, vital people in our society, not just historical figures. 

For some additional resources, I recommend this article about teaching preschool and kindergartners about Native and Indigenous peoples. You can also find info in this A Racial Justice Guide to Thanksgiving to help you tell the factual story of the holiday. We also have more book lists in this post Celebrating Native American Heritage month!

Like language, stereotyping is learned over time. It is never too early - or too late - to talk with children about kindness and fairness and diversity, and to demonstrate the many ways we can treat all people with respect and dignity.

This post is part of our "Talking with kids" series, and was featured in our monthly Family Newsletter. Sign up for the newsletter here, and email us at learning@multcolib.org if you have any questions.

Did you know that the Indigenous peoples in Multnomah County are descended from over 380 different tribes? Nearly 70,000 strong, Portland has one of the highest urban Native populations in the country. In November, we celebrate the rich and diverse cultures, traditions and histories of Native peoples, and honor the many important contributions they make to our communities. Here are some ways to celebrate and learn with the young people in your life!   

Attend a program, class, or visit a museum exhibit. Many cultural events normally held in person have moved online.    

Share stories and explore history and culture with your children all year long.

Adults and teens may enjoy the materials featured on the lists below:

Feel free to let us know if you need help placing holds or accessing your account. Subscribe to our Family Newsletter in English and Spanish for more on how the library can support home learning. We're here for you!

Multnomah County is sited upon the ancestral homelands of the Multnomah, Mollala, Kathlamet, Chinook, Clackamas, Tualatin Kalapuya and many other Indigenous Nations. These Nations have become the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde, the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians, as well as the Chinook Nation and Cowlitz Nation in Washington State. Land acknowledgements recognize and respect the enduring relationship that Indigenous People have with their traditional homelands. The effects of colonization can still be felt today and land acknowledgements are a small step down the path of repair, reconciliation and cultural revitalization.  Land Acknowledgement, courtesy of Melanie Fey, Central Library Access Services Assistant

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