It has been a rough year, folks. Parents out there are likely all feeling the same way – we spend our days sheltering our children from the ugly truth about our society, our country and our world. We are constantly feeling the pressure of how much to allow our children in when it comes to current events:
- What should they know?
- At what age are they old enough to understand what’s going on?
- Are we sheltering them too much or not enough?
- How do we broach the tough subjects of war, violence, immigration or mass murders?
- Do we explain racism, injustice and why people protest?
It seems that all the more frequently we are having to ask ourselves these questions as parents and making tough decisions. No matter where we turn there is something happening somewhere that seriously begs the notion of World Peace ever being a possibility. From airports to sports stadiums, these seemingly “adult” issues are literally becoming the face of our country each and every day.
As we ring in the New Year, every person, every individual, needs to decide how he or she will face the upcoming obstacles. All of us come from different walks of life with different backgrounds, different experiences and different childhoods. We are raising our children together yet differently from one another and that’s what makes us a great nation. Our differences are our strengths…we need to get back to seeing that as such rather than drawing enemy lines.
- Will you be one of the negative populace out there declaring war on any one with a different skin tone, agenda or outlook?
- Or will you be one to open your mind to positivity and possibilities with this new beginning?
As parents, as citizens, as human beings we must all rise up, join in and pledge to do more and do better for the future of our children. We cannot give in to the negativity that our daily news feeds have become. The attacks on social media must stop, the “trolls” must stop trolling, and the nationwide education of our children AND our adults must increase so we can embark upon a brighter tomorrow.
Take your hands off the keyboard! Do not become one of the frenzied followers of every crazy social media post out there. As we tell our children, think before you speak. Is your like, share or comment really going to make a difference in a positive way? If not, stop. We all have opinions, but if we would accept that and stop subjecting everyone to our own as though it were the gospel truth many fights would be forsaken and the negative influences and negative media would not be fed.
We have been living in the dark. Rather than the notions of peace and prosperity that founded our great nation, we are dead-set on destroying one another and we have allowed evil to succeed. From college campuses to country music festivals, no where is safe.
As parents we must change that; we must believe in these idealistic ideas and get out and work for them! We must get involved in our communities, in our schools and in our local governments to impact positive change. Feed the homeless, clothe the less-fortunate and help those who need it with your strength and your time. We don’t have a choice because we were given the greatest responsibility – to raise our children and to give them the best environment possible. Right now, this CANNOT be it.
Treat every person you meet with love and respect, teach your children to do the same, and this will make a difference. It may not happen immediately, there may not be the instant gratification we Americans are so accustomed to, however, every little action matters. A handshake, a hug, or a kind word will make a difference in a person’s day and might just be the small change we need.
Meet with your enemy, love your enemy, accept that you cannot change your enemy, but only your own way of looking at things. Do not look at people with judgment upon your face, rather ask what you can do to help them. Imagine, if every person exercised kindness, tolerance and understanding we may just be able to improve our worldly relations.
From kneeling athletes to the removal of monuments, try and understand both sides. Do not close your mind to what the other person is thinking, seeing or feeling. This does not mean that you must agree with the person, but that you must accept and allow him or her to have an opinion. And educate each other in a respectful way. Just as you may inform your children as to why these groups are fighting or why it even matters, educate one another about your thoughts or feelings, but realize you may not get agreement or approval and that is okay.
Explain to your children in an age appropriate way what is happening in our world today. As parents this is our duty. Many of us may wish to keep our little ones sheltered from the frightening world around us, but they deserve to know the truth. Believe it or not, your child hears much more than you say…from the news on TV while you cook dinner, to chatter on a playground or in a classroom, the information is being imparted so make sure you are involved.
So often I hear children making comments about President Trump, athletes or people of other cultures that were not possibly contrived in their own minds. Our children are like blank slates. They are canvases awaiting the information, morals, values, beliefs and ideals that will one day not only define who they are, but their participation in this world. Be honest, be truthful, be kind and be careful. Your children will remember what you say and if you want him or her to be open-minded and accepting of others, make sure your own words and actions reflect this.
As a mother, as a Christian and as a believer in humankind, I plan to face the new year with a better attitude, a better outlook and a stronger belief that good will win out in the long run. I MUST for the sake of my children. Just like everyone else, I have the tendency to fall prey to the negativity surrounding us, however with a little effort I plan to make a positive change. Love your neighbor, accept his differences and work toward making this new year a positive, peaceful time and place to raise our children together.
Photo Credits: Kristin dePaula, Every Avenue Girl, Kristen Lee Creative