Preparing Our Children for a Different World
I live in rural Iowa where people still hold the door open for you, strangers wave from their passing car, and there is a sense of peace in the Heartland. When a college girl gets kidnapped and killed in a rural town only minutes away, and then a twelve-year-old boy pulls a gun in our own Jr. High classroom – your whole sense of security disappears.
What to Expect When You’re Expecting never mentioned that delivering a baby was the easy part, and the hard part was keeping them safe and happy. My first parental response to recent events was to run away with my family. I planned our life on the side of a mountain, off the grid, and told my daughter to brush up on her archery skills to hunt game. I would research which berries we could eat and how to purify the water so we didn’t die of diarrhea. I would do this for my family, but that’s not realistic.
How do I tell my daughters that they are safe when they walk out the door? How can I possibly say “it’ll be okay” without doubt in my mind? I can’t. BUT I will to find more ways to show them they are important, and love them. Things on my list that are important:
- Return to the dinner table as a family. No TV or devices allowed. Learn to communicate and show our kids that we care about their lives.
- Listen. Something trivial in a youngsters life can blossom into unfathomable proportions in an immature brain. Listen, acknowledge their fear or worries, and troubleshoot a remedy.
- Pry into their lives. Talking to a teenager can be similar to chatting with a brick wall. But that doesn’t mean I stop asking questions as to who their friends are, where are they going, and is everything okay at school. Showing that I care, may chip away at the brick wall and let my kids know that I am available if the wall starts to crumble.
- Spend family time together. All kids need a support structure – be one.
- Be proactive. My daughters will not run or walk alone anymore, I am looking into self-defense classes, and we’ve discussed the need to be on guard. An eye-ball poke or kick to the nuts could save your life.
- Parental happiness. Kids are smart and aware of what is happening in their household. In a time when cutbacks force adults to work more for less pay, the daily news resembles an apocalypse, and life is simply hard. Shelter your children from your anger, and make it a priority to find your own happiness. It’s hard to be present for your kids if you are miserable.
- 7. SHOW your love. Even if your teenager does not want kissed because you will smudge her makeup, or pushes away your hug because they are busy playing Fortnite – Do it anyway.
This post was not meant to be preachy or judgmental, because I need to work on everything in this list myself. Being a parent is the most important job I have, and it didn’t come with job-site training videos.
“The most precious gift we can offer anyone is our attention. When mindfulness embraces those we love, they will bloom like flowers.” ― Thich Nhat Hanh
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