Back in the day, growing up was a much simpler time, although I didn’t realize it at the time. Watching today’s teens and young adults shaping their lives is sometimes heart-wrenching, sometimes wonderful, depending on those you’re looking at. Some are given the tools needed to survive and some are left to find their own way, not always strong enough to make wise choices. Kids have always picked on each other. Teasing, name-calling, those “sticks & stones can break my bones, but names will never hurt me” things that were just a part of growing up. It’s not that simple anymore, technology has allowed this to become life-changing. Kids can take this to a whole new level now, with the information super-highway. They can “post” things into cyberspace. Sometimes, these things can destroy a child. Sometimes, these things can deplete an innocent and send them into hopelessness. Technology can be good, when used properly. Sadly, it can also take things not-so-good to a whole new plane.
Back then, Art & Music were valued in our schools. We had classes like Home Economics, Wood Shop and Mechanics to give us the skills needed for life. We were encouraged to follow our dreams. “What do you want to be when you grow up?” was always an interesting conversation around the dinner table. Nowadays, our youth is being told they must go to college and obtain degrees or they won’t have the “value” necessary to survive today’s world.
Let’s take a very serious look around us, shall we? Never once did I lose a childhood friend to heroin. Never once did the thought ever enter my mind that a classmate would enter our cafeteria with an assault weapon. Teasing has now become bullying, driving way too many to suicide because of the level the playing field is now at. This is a cost that our world cannot allow. “What the world needs now, is Love” was on the radio and in the air then. Not as many people really thought so easily about taking their life. I never lost a friend, neighbor or classmate to suicide.
As a mother, I knew no college or university would ever teach my children the most important tools to survive, happily, in today’s world. I taught my children how to make choices. Being who I am, I knew teaching my children to have a sense of self-respect, self-worth and self-esteem from the beginning, were some of the most important tools I could give them. Teaching them that mistakes are okay, provided you learn something from them is priceless. Be smart, keep your eyes open and learn from the mistakes of others too, this can save you a lot of grief along the way. Always remembering that while you’re climbing the ladder of success in your life, if you degrade, belittle or hurt others along the way to get what you want, those below you holding the ladder still, are not the “losers” in that journey. I taught my children compassion, I taught them respect, for themselves as much as others. I taught them how to make choices in life. I taught them courage and how to stand for those things they truly believe in, no matter what the opinions of others to be. As the Mom, I’d appreciate you listening to what I have to say, but no one’s opinion will ultimately be more important than your own, is what I taught them. I will always love you for who you are, but if you choose and do wrong, I promise I will come and visit. I will not “bail” you out, I will not cover for you, but I swear I will be waiting for you when your payment is done to society.
Having been involved in the evolution of my children’s lives to the extent that I was, also blessed me with the opportunity to become a part of the lives of those they called friends. It is for some of those lost souls that I am writing this, with tears in my eyes. My children learned about “loss” early on. They learned about the beauty and value of life. Yes, it is what you make it. They were taught to love themselves just the way they are, no plastic surgery needed. They learned the most valuable things in life are those things within your heart. My heart goes out to all those who have lost an innocent to the hands of that hopelessness. My heart goes out to all those friends, those youth’s, that we have lost. My heart goes out to those that are not given the most important tools needed, the tools of strength, dignity and worth to survive in the world. This is the most important part of parenting. This is what truly “being” a parent is, and should always be, about. If you bear a child, this should remain your most important challenge, your most important focus, giving them the tools necessary to survive as a truly happy individual.
Merry Christmas to all those Angels we now have watching over us. Peace on Earth and, most certainly, good will toward man.