If you’re a parent or guardian and don’t feel emotionally and mentally overwhelmed on any given day raising children today, then I need some of what you have. And likely, so do 99.9% of other parents and guardians.
It seems you can’t turn on the news these days without hearing another disturbing story involving children. Sadness washes over me when I think about children being harmed, abused, or neglected.
Things seem to move to a whole other level, however, when there are crimes against children being committed by other children. Innocense is stripped of multiple lives in one fell swoop.
When I say children, it’s easy to picture a small child. However, I mean children of all ages.
I wish I knew.
I bet you wish, too.
As a parent in 2018, the future should look and feel bright. However, it’s difficult not to feel, instead, apprehension and maybe even an unsettled feeling in the pit of your stomach.
When we welcome our little bundles of joy into the world, we have the most happiness and joy we can possibly fit into one, life-changing moment.
We never imagine our children as victims – or criminals.
Even the most well-meaning parents or guardians can find themselves in a situation they never fathomed.
Parents today have social media to contend with, not to mention, what seems to me that our young are not staying young as long as they should be. I’m a child of the 80’s and can tell you, the things that kids talk about and do these days would have been foreign to me as a kid at the same age.
Despite not having an entirely joyful childhood, I think the fact I could escape my reality by living in a fantasy world in my mind, probably saved me in a lot of ways. I’ve always had a vivid imagination. Whether it was escaping a situation and crying myself to sleep under my bed or drawing and writing things that weren’t real (like hearts with wings), I believe now, it was my way of escaping reality.
What do children do now? They escape to social media. They escape to the arms of a boy or girl. They escape to self-destructive behavior.
I’m not suggesting things that kids do now aren’t things kids did back when. Life itself was different back then, though. We didn’t have social media and all the negative things that come with it. Game consoles were just coming out. Cell phones were bag phones and not everyone had one.
We have a big societal problem when 5th graders are having to be talked to about sexting. True story. FIFTH GRADERS!! Let me say that again in another way…11-year-olds being talked to in school about sexting. SEXTING!!
We have a big societal problem when there are news reports of alleged sexual assaults against junior high boys being committed by upper-classmen as some sort of “game.” Seriously. This is incredibly saddening. Where are our children safe anymore? I will add that if in some bizarre twist, this is false, the fact this is even something we need to think about is terribly disheartening.
Is there no longer a concept of right or wrong?
I am fully aware boys take longer to mature than girls. I am also fully aware that the frontal lobe of the brain (where reason and decision-making happen) isn’t fully developed until age 25.
So, what are we to do as parents to ensure our kids stay on a positive path? What are we to do to ensure our kids don’t fall prey to their influential peers, who themselves, are on a self-destructive path? What are we to do to ensure they can recognize when the adults in their lives they view as an authority/role model or someone they respect are using their position of power to manipulate or abuse (whether physically or emotionally)?
I know what it is like to be a victim. Stories like these enrage me. Crimes against kids by kids disturbs me.
What is happening?
Where are we failing these kids on both sides of the fence?
I had started this blog post the week before last. It’s a hot-button topic and I felt it would be wise to step away from it and come back to it again with fresh eyes. This way, I knew I was writing it with thoughtful intent.
Then Ash Wednesday/Valentine’s Day came, and I learned of another school shooting.
I am so sick of the talk, talk, talk and no action. I’m so sick of politics getting in the way of progress and change.
Here’s my .02 on guns. Guns don’t kill people, people kill people. Evil people kill people; whether it’s with a gun, knife, bomb, or a truck they decide to use as a weapon of mass destruction. That said, I am all for stiffer gun-obtaining laws. I would go as far as to even require some sort of gun permit class. Just as someone goes through a driver’s ed course, I feel it’s equally important (and responsible) for gun ownership to include the proper use, handling, carry procedures, and laws.
Fact: there will always be guns. And misguided/ill-intentioned people will always find a means to get a gun. Ever watch the documentary on the gun smuggling that happens right here in the U.S.? Eye-opening. Sometimes I wonder if those on Capitol Hill ever take the time to watch documentaries. They might learn something.
As I watched the updates following the school shooting, I heard the phrase, “see something, say something.” It’s a phrase I’ve said to my children many times. I got to thinking though, even if concerned citizens begin to take this to heart and do, in fact, say something, do the communities have the resources available to keep up with the uptick in demand for follow-up investigations?
In case you didn’t catch it on the news, there was actually a school shooting plot foiled by a grandmother in Washington. She found a journal in her grandson’s room this Tuesday that laid out his plot and she called 9-1-1, after which time, her grandson was arrested at school. In this case, “see something, say something” saved lives, but only because there was action taken and no time was wasted.
Parents need to know they have resources available when they notice changes in their children’s behavior and where to find them.
Mental illness is a real thing and requires much more than a diagnosis and a drug.
Mental illness aside, it’s time to WAKE UP PARENTS. As society’s first line of defense and creators of our future society, we need to ensure we are looking in the mirror and addressing our own pain, suffering, fears, and faults. At some point, we have to take responsibility for the little people we raise into young men and women.
Think about your answers to these questions: Do you turn a blind eye to your children’s problems because you feel shame, fear, lack of resources, etc.? Do you spoil, indulge, and befriend rather than parent and discipline for the same reasons? Be honest with yourself.
We all want what’s best for our kids. We all bring our babies into this world with the best of intentions. We may not have control over their psychological disposition, but that aside, what we can do is have the influence of the home be stronger than the influence of their peers.
We need to get back to the basics of parenting: values, morals, faith, personal accountability, and respect.
I have no idea what the Lord has in store for me as a parent. I have no control over the future and what it entails. All that I [and all of us] can do is ensure we are setting up our children for success in every way possible. And, from what I’ve learned thus far, doing that has required saying “no” – a lot.
This blog post is me thinking out loud. This parenting thing is a hard, hard gig. I can’t imagine doing this thing right at 16, 17, or 18. Heck, it’s hard enough at nearly 40. Ever hear that old saying, “it takes a village to raise a family?” I think we’ve lost that. We’ve lost our connection to each other, during a time we should feel more connected than ever. I know I, too, could soften up in regards to accepting, asking, and offering help. There are just too many fears to go around these days.
WAKE UP – before you receive a call you never imagined you’d get.