Times have changed drastically since I was young. Kids today have way too many outside influences. When I was young, I played out in the neighborhood, played with my dolls, and maybe watched some TV with only a few channels. Today, there are hundreds of TV channels with hundreds of TV shows and movies, there are drugs, alcohol, sexual promiscuity, video games, computers, cell-phones, and the like. Sure, there were drugs, alcohol, and sexual promiscuity in my generation, but they weren’t in your face. You had a hint of who was partaking, but unless you ran in those circles (which I didn’t), they didn’t affect you.
Divorce rates are said to be as high as 50 to 80%, and not many are amicable. What is sad is that the children get caught in the middle. Too many children are being raised in one-parent families, and many are being raised by their grandparents. There is nothing wrong with that in itself, but children are affected by divorces and not having their parents around.
Then there are the children who are homeless, involved in prostitution, gangs, slave labor, being abused…. My heart aches for each and every one of them. Children are desperate to feel accepted and to have a sense of belonging.
I want to mention something when it comes to abuse and spanking…. Many years ago, I was at work when a co-worker asked me out of the blue if I believed in spanking. I started to answer “sure,” as I was spanked as a child and turned out okay. All of a sudden, it was as if the Universe bopped me on top of the head with her wisdom wand, and I thought, “no, it isn’t all right to spank a child.” If it’s not okay for an adult to hit an adult, then why is it okay to hit a child? If a husband hits his wife, it’s spousal abuse. If an adult hits another adult, it’s called assault. Both can be punishable with jail time. So, why is it okay to hit a child? (If you are interested in researching better ways to discipline children without hitting them, please go to http://www.montyroberts.com/shop_equine_interest.html#HorseSense . )
After I had this aha moment, I became dead-set against hitting any child for any reason. I won’t even hit my pets. Tapping without pain to get their attention is one thing, but to hit to cause pain is a whole other ballgame. Why would you physically want to hurt your child or an animal?
We need to honor our children. Respect their rights as people no matter what their age. Love them. Care for them. And it doesn’t matter if it’s your child or someone else’s. We all know children who do not have a good home life. Take them under your wing. Invite them to dinner and to outings with your family. Spend some quality time with them (as well as with your own children). Mentor them.
Get them involved with volunteering in your community, or even helping out a neighbor in need. Show them that there are always people worse off. Teach them compassion. Give them a sense of responsibility. Allow them to feel needed.
When was the last time you told your child that you loved them? That you’re proud of them? Many children will go through their whole lives just waiting to hear those words from a parent. Or anyone for that matter. (This goes for anyone we love; not just our children. We ALL need to hear these words. Even if you know they know it, it still makes a huge difference to hear it.)
Also, respect a child’s right to be who they want to be when they grow up, even if it is not something you may want for them. (As long as they are not hurting anyone.) How many adults have gone into a field or profession just because it was what their parents wanted them to do, and then they go through life unhappy and unfulfilled with regrets of things they didn’t do? If you want your child to be happy, let them choose their own life. They alone have to live with the results of their choices.
Children today are crying out for love and attention. They are growing up with so much self-hate, low self-esteem, and just literally feeling lost and alone. I know that there are many exceptions; children who are growing up well-adjusted. But many are not. They don’t know that they have a choice. This is where mentoring comes in. Sometimes it only takes one person to make a difference in a child’s life. That person could be you. Remember….Our children are our future.