As it happens quite frequently these days, in conversation with guests someone invariably says, “We got this great [movie, documentary, BBC television show, etc] on Netflix–have you seen it?”
Last evening, in a spirited conversation between eight F/friends, we began the lobbying efforts to have others watch whatever we found interesting, stimulating, romantic, educational, etc. Yes, even Quakers watch movies that have to do with war, greed, sex (oh my gosh), art, food, slapstick comedy (yikes), travel, history, mystery, etc.
As with most lively conversation, we suddenly found ourselves discussing a particular piece of film that had found controversial responses within our group. The film that resonated was “Angels in America.” But there was no real comments about subject of the film, but rather on the acting in the film. Yes, yes, we all love Meryl. What started as a give and take on the Al Pacino’s overbearing and demonstrative acting became a personal reflection on how “regular people” respond to emotional pain/fear/loss/etc.
And then I found myself being quite passionate about how “Hollywood Gets It Wrong”– in regards to the displaying of emotional pain by children and adolescents. Hollywood has taught us that we are to be aware and respond to those who are LOUD, “testing,” “naughty,” “in your face,” “threatening,” “drinking and drugging,” and etc.
But my experience is that many children and adolescents who are in a place of hopelessness with their beliefs and emotional responses are QUIET. Inward. Trudging through their lives. Trying to “just get by.” These children and adolescents have usually tried to get someone’s (typically a parent’s) attention that their needs for safety, security, trust, and worthiness (having value) are not being met. After several QUIET attempts to elicit a positive response from the loved one, and not getting anything changed in their lives—these children and adolescents often GIVE UP. Some do get LOUD and have to be attended to (because their behavior SCARED an adult)—but many grow in their sense of hopelessness that anything will actually change.
Depression can be displayed in a variety of outwardly LOUD and potentially harmful manifestations. But that six-year-old can be as potentially harmful in his or her quietness–BUT it will take much longer for someone to recognize the dept of emotional pain as long as the outward behavior is NOT expressive and yes, scary to a caring adult who intervenes to help the child.
We all have our moments/days of emotional upheaval, but when it lasts for more than a few days with a young child or a week with an older child or a couple of weeks with a teenager, they each need help with finding their way back in hopefulness and positive expectation.
Come on Hollywood—help our QUIET children and adolescents have a VOICE–increased media that helps adults understand “THE QUIET MAN (child, teenager)” that surround us, but are not seen or heard for much too long.