Why do ‘I Worry About the Kids?’ As parents, teachers, and mentors we can save lives!

“I Worry About the Kids” by Steve Sparks is written for parents, teachers, and mentors…


Following is an excerpt from Chapter 1, I Worry About the Kids, a workbook for parents, teachers, and mentors, by Steve Sparks.  Anticipated publish date September 2016.

“Although children are resilient and adapt to their immediate surroundings and their broader environment—good, bad, indifferent, and ugly as it might be—kids inhale the pain of loved ones, especially parents they look to for love, support, and security. Parents don’t always see or even think that toxic behaviors in the home, school, and neighborhood will have long-term implications on the healthy growth of their children. Parents who suffer from severe post trauma stress are fully engaged in their own world of emotional pain, a private agony that can strike at any moment by haunting triggers from the past. Outbursts of anger, panic attacks, and irrational behaviors represent a trauma-affected adult who is expressing grieving emotions from past traumatic events. When these scary events occur in the home, kids become frightened for their safety. Children are often silent and try to stay clear of threatening violent behaviors, but they never forget. They live and cope with whatever happens around them just like adults.

I’m often asked why I worry so much about babies and young children when thinking and writing about post-traumatic stress and the toxic circumstances that surround a family when a parent suffers from it. I worry because even unborn babies can be damaged from post-trauma family dynamics. And I worry about the kids because the longer the delay in paying attention to them, the more permanent the damage.

Where do I find these children? The terrible answer is I find them in every social strata, every economic level, in every neighborhood, everywhere. Children exhibiting the signs of post-traumatic stress often live in military families that include a parent who served in hard combat but came home fueled by anxiety, depression, and anger. They are children of first responders whose work places them in the midst of terrible violence and chaos, and they can’t help but bring some of their despair back home. They are homeless kids sleeping wherever they can lay their head for the night. Sometimes their parents are with them, sometimes not. They are the children of alcoholics and drug users. They are kids living among convicted criminals who need supervision of their own. They are the children of chronically depressed parents. They are undernourished kids living in poverty. They are kids with limited access to education—for whatever reason. They are children who have witnessed a murder, or a gun accident, or pulled the trigger themselves—you read about these stories in the newspapers way too often. They are children who found a parent dead of suicide. Or who was in the room when their mother was raped. They are foster children taken from parents who abused or neglected them, only to end up in another abusive situation. They are kids whose father or mother skipped out one day, never to return. They are children living with their grandparents because their own parents are dysfunctional or violent. They are children at the mercy of adults—stepfathers, pastors, relatives, neighbors—with sexually deviant personalities. Our society is experiencing an epidemic of children suffering from post-traumatic stress right this minute.

Why do I worry about the little kids? Because I see their anxiety, pain, and distress. I watch how they flinch, how they become mute, how they retreat from tender touch. These little kids often arrive hungry at school and nap too long, or not enough. I worry about the kids because, for the most part, they are invisible. They fall through the cracks. When nobody pays attention to them, they grow up damaged. Their antisocial behavior and learning deficiencies escalate. They mimic the toxic behavior of their caretakers by bullying classmates, by lying and stealing, by becoming defiant. They learn to manipulate people and manipulate the system. They are angry. They live in a state of panic. If they get in trouble in school often enough, they are expelled. Pretty soon, they take to living on the street because their home is more dangerous than interactions with strangers.”


My goal with this latest project is to make the current e-book, My Journey of Healing in Life After Trauma, Part 2, a paperback workbook.  Most parents and teachers I talk to are interested in the views and solutions that come to us directly from survivors who thrive in life after trauma.  Post-trauma stress is often a life time challenge if not caught early while the young brain is developing.  After age 5 or 6, it becomes increasingly difficult to change the behaviors connected with post-trauma stress symptoms.  Our best hope for the irradication of post-trauma stress is to start very early from birth to age 5.   Quoting from, Bright from the Start, by Jill Stamm, P.h.D.

  • Spending one-on-one time loving your child
  • Playing with your child
  • Responding quickly and predictably to your child
  • Touching and cuddling with your child
  • Reading and singing to your child

Of course, the above is just a small example of the huge responsibility that comes with being a parent.  Most of us struggle with parenting, and need a good partner to be supportive.  It takes a village, they say.  And for me, I knew none of this very well until reaching the later years of my life.  The often unintentional consequences are enormous!  It is up to parents, teachers, and mentors to become trauma informed so that we are able to do our part in building healthy minds and bodies of the children in our lives…

Steve Sparks, Author, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story and My Journey of Healing in Life After Trauma, Part 1&2.  Click the highlighted text for my author page…

Steve Sparks, Author, Blogger, Child Advocate




Prevent Domestic Violence in Life After War…Kids Become Collateral Damage…


sparks kickstarter1
survivethriveptsd.com A work in progress, anticipated publish date September 2016.


Treatment Interventions for Veterans with PTSD  by Mike Willbur, M.S., LMHC and Susanne Ruiz Rodriguez, Esq, M.S.

“If there is violence and/or abuse in the home, recognize it for what it really is – violence and abuse. Violence and/or abuse are present in a place that is supposed to be a sanctuary. Does everyone under the roof where you live feel safe? Does your partner feel self-empowered? Is there mutual respect in the home? When you feel irritable, are you able to talk about it with your partner? These are just a few questions that should be asked and if not answered appropriately, then it’s time to seek help.”


When loved ones return home following deployment in hard combat, the risk of domestic violence resulting from post-trauma stress is much higher without proactive treatment.  The stigma of mental health challenges takes a toll on the entire family, especially children, because those who suffer from the horrific memories of war are often in denial  for many reasons and refuse treatment.  I know this to be true as a post WWII child who carries the emotional baggage of domestic violence to this day. My research shows evidence of an epidemic of generational post-trauma stress in literally thousands of families who live with emotional pain and toxic family relationships from one generation to the next.  How can we break the cycle of abuse and emotional pain that seems to stick like bad genes in families who must learn to love all over again?

I so wish and pray that healing from post-traumatic stress (PTS) could be as simple and easy as treating a case of the measles or the flu, or even taking clear steps to avoid or cure more serious physical health challenges.  But in treating PTS,  it is clearly very complicated and often a life long process or journey of healing…

We know so much more and have a high level of awareness of post-traumatic stress circumstances in the 21st Century.  It is up to families to break the cycle of pain by seeking pre-deployment preparation and education as a first step.  Do not wait! Build a proactive plan as a family.  There are excellent resources at your fingertips just by doing a search with the words “post-trauma stress.”  My website includes archives of over 800 posts, articles and links, books to purchase and download to your ebook reader.

Steve Sparks, Author, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story and My Journey of Healing in Life After Trauma Part 1&2…  Click the highlighted text to order books and other stuff…from Amazon…

Steve Sparks, Author, Blogger, Child Advocate


Steve Sparks Amazon.com

Child Abuse Primes the Brain for the Future… Saving our kids from the baggage of post-trauma stress!

Child Abuse and Maltreatment Affects Brain Development in Early Childhood…

Child Abuse Primes the Brain…, TIME

“Child maltreatment has been called the tobacco industry of mental health. Much the way smoking directly causes or triggers predispositions for physical disease, early abuse may contribute to virtually all types of mental illness.”


My latest book project “I Worry About the Kids,” gives this topic significant attention in a workbook format to help parents, teachers, and mentors become far more aware and effective in working with the symptoms of child abuse.  My first edition of this book, “My Journey of Healing in Life After Trauma, Part 2,” is published as a robust ebook on the Amazon KDP platform.  Stay tuned for more…

Steve Sparks, Author, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story and My Journey of Healing in Life After Trauma, Part 1&2… Click the highlighted text for my author page, and to order books, etc.

Steve Sparks, Author, Blogger, Child Advocate
Saving your children from the emotional baggage of early childhood trauma…

When Gun Violence is Personal… “Leave a stronger, safer country to our children.”


Barack Obama: Guns Are Our Shared Responsibility… January 7, 2016 New York Times

Guns, Our Shared Responsibility… Quote from New York Times article by Barack Obama

Gun violence in a dysfunctional home with a parent who suffers from post-trauma stress

“Nearly 800 children under 14 were killed in gun accidents from 1999 to 2010, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Nearly one in five injury-related deaths in children and adolescents involve firearms.”

I have an old boomer friend, Dave, who grew up in a home where the father suffered from severe post-traumatic stress while serving in hard combat during WWII. When his father retired from the US Navy, he started a second career as a 1st responder and carried a gun. The first gun violence and safety incident happened when the father came home from work and left his gun lying on the bed. The youngest son and brother, Skip, a toddler at the time, got on the bed and accidently pulled the trigger…the bullet fortunately penetrated the mattress and the child was not hurt. Later the same father came home angry with my friend, Dave, and his brother, Jim, who were teens at the time, and threatened the two of them by shaking his gun and pointing it at the two teen boys. Their mother pulled the father away and may have saved her sons from death or injury. To this day, my friend fears guns and is triggered by memories of these incidents during his young adult life so very long ago. Can’t we do more?

Steve Sparks, Author, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story and My Journey of Healing in Life After Trauma, Part 1&2… Click the highlighted text for my author page.

Steve Sparks, Author, Blogger, Child Advocate