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Trust Your Children
It takes a village to raise a child. A community.
One day I was talking to my neighbor in Yorktown, VA. We were the only people in the complex who were younger than 60 years old...much less in their late 20's-early 30's. I loved living here! I was on the second floor and in both apartments on the first floor were retired women. These women watched our world. No-one could come into our parking lot without being seen, recorded, and catalogued.
Life is a funny thing. When you are a Mom, and you have to watch your own kids...and any extras that are around. That day, as she and I spoke, our children played near-by. Suddenly we both realized that there was no more squealing, poking or running going on. There one second, in sight, now both had disappeared.
We were not worried initially. It was a safe place, far from the main roads. As we called their names we walked through 2 of the buildings toward the front lawn. Then it hit...NO CHILDREN! We called louder. I ran down an embankment to see if they were on the other side. NO CHILDREN!
We started a search of the perimeter. No cars had passed that we knew of...but then again, the kids here a moment ago had now disappeared. Walking and calling we went around the buildings the long way.
The longer no answering cries came, the more our anxiety flared. We were now officially worried. WHERE could they have gone?!! "You didn't see a car, right?", we asked each other, both with negative replies. It seemed Scotty had beamed them up and we were on the verge of panic.
hehehe...hahaha....hehehe...hahah...We heard a slight sound coming from behind the door to the dumpsters. hehehe...shhhhh...hahaha....shhhhh...The sound became louder as we approached the enclosure. Hearing our approach, the sounds fell silent.
Later the kids told us they were just playing hide-go-seek with us. At first, not realizing the wrath of Mom, our children thought they had played the greatest joke in the world. Giggles, poking elbows and outright laughter exited the enclosure. With-in seconds us Moms were able to turn this into scared cries of, "We'll never do it again!"
Tales of children being stolen into slavery erupted from our lips. Intimidations of serial killers, rapists and pedophiles crossed the lines from our mind's eye to theirs...scarring them to strangers forever...just as we subconsciously hoped.
This story is to illustrate how we allow our fears of the world (as seen on TV) to contaminate our children. It is a sad commentary to society that this has now become commonplace. Don't let your children out alone...someone will steal them. There are several ways that we, and the media, teach our children to be scared in our society.
Is this right? This living in fear of our fellow man? We try to teach our children to love their neighbors, while in the same breath teaching them to fear adults (pedophiles), fear life (natural disasters) and to fear their friends (Columbine). Don't get me wrong, fear is a very useful human emotion. It keeps us safe at times. However, fear of the rest of the world is wrong!
Our children are being consumed by a world lost in itself. Consumed by the newspapers, television and radio of distrust and disinterest. Why be interested in a world that is only there to harm you? Why trust politicians and celebrities who only think to forward themselves.
My father often told me that "life is not fair". It wasn't fair then and it's not fair now. But, community seemed stronger back then. Community watched your children when they were out of your sight. Community made sure they were safe and did not harm each other. Now it seems, community has become blind.
I remember playing outside everyday with other children in the neighborhood. We knew everyone on the block and they knew us. Even if it was only to yell at us to get off their yard, we knew each other. And if we were doing something we shouldn't have been we could be sure someone would phone or come by to tell our parents.
Who remembers when our parents shielded us from all that was wrong with the world? Who remembers when life was as simple as living up to the Jones'? What happened that we now need to fear all these social deviants? Is that the reality we want our children growing up in?!! One of fear and hate for their fellow man?
We still want our children to feel loved and safe. We still want them to live up to their individual potentials. However, we inhibit this by allowing ourselves to be sucked into the common fear of mankind.
The pendulum seems to be swinging again. With the recent fall of the economy, I see society being a community again. To loving each other as a community. A community family that will look out for all children, even when we have none of ourselves. A community that realizes that children are our greatest national resource. A resource that needs to be nurtured and grown...not stifled and stilled.
I remember when my parents did not let me go anywhere or do anything without knowing who I would be with and where I would be. I could rot at home if I was unwilling to tell them the answers to these simple questions. Do you know who your kids hang out with? Have you at least met the parents?
Do you listen to your children's music? Do you watch their favorite TV shows? Do you see who they follow on YouTube? Do you you know who they e-mail? There are so many ways for others to subvert our kids. Who is safe?
I firmly believe we are all as safe as we see ourselves. Do not raise your children to be victims. The easiest victims are the ones who do not believe in the boogeyman. Tell your children of the boogeyman. He has existed since the beginning of time.
It's been the war cry of Moms for centuries. "You better listen or the boogeyman will get you!"
We all knew of the boogeyman. He was out there and he was NOT NICE! And even worse, he could be anywhere. He may be under the bed right now. What was that noise in the closet?! We knew instinctively it was safer to go in pairs and to stay out of the dark. But, did we learn to fear our fellow-man?
We would still talk to the new neighbors, asking them if they had kids or dogs. The only thing we feared being answered "No" to both questions. That usually meant one less yard of freedom.
Discuss the dangers in life with them and explain that although not every one is this way they need to be aware. Reassure them as you caution them. Yes we need to be wary at times and keep our wits about us, but we do not need to fear.
Raise them to ask questions. Teach them to judge situations and people for themselves, and not to blindly follow where led. Help them to think for themselves. Give them the freedom to explore on their own and learn self-reliance. Teach them to hold their heads high and walk with pride. The greatest gift we can give our children is the power to think for themselves.
We need to trust our children. Even though we know we cannot trust the whole world, we need to trust our children. We taught them how to think, how to feel. Society can only build on what we've taught.
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