Everyday we read about an outrageous thing a child or teenager has done, from having affairs with their teachers to hitting their parents with shovels when asked to remove snow from the driveway. It’s gotten so crazy that the regular stuff our kids do seem minor in comparison. But most of the time, we aren’t comparing what our kids do to the over-the-top antics of the children who make the headlines.
This morning, producer Erica Taylor wants to know what your kids have done to make you panic.
Every parent with teens knows what it feels like when they miss curfew, and every mother or father of young children has had to face the moment when they get lost at an amusement park, the mall or a grocery store. I don’t think you’re a real parent if you haven’t uttered the phrase, “If they’re alive, I’m going to kill them.” We love them so much that when they do things to put themselves in danger, we want do something that will assure us that they will never do it again.
Our thinking is that we have the power to protect our kids from danger, if only they would listen to us. But in reality, we can do everything in our power to make certain that our children know the rules and follow them – and things can still go terribly wrong. I started the week talking about accountability, so I may as well end it the same way. We spend a lot of time protecting, nurturing and educating what belongs to us and thinking that that’s enough to make the world better. But our children and teens don’t live in a protective bubble. At some point, they will run into someone who hasn’t been protected, nurtured or educated, and that’s a situation we cannot control.
So, instead of only being concerned about what we have and what we’re doing, we have to make sure that others who are less fortunate have a chance for a better life. As the economy worsens, so does our ability and sometimes even our desire to reach out. If you are giving less money to your church, a youth program, or your HBCU, remember that there other meaningful things you can contribute, like your time and talent. But whatever you do, give something back and teach your kids to do the same.
The world is smaller than we think, so it makes sense for us to make sure our neighbors — whether they live next door or on the other side of town — have a decent quality of life. Because even though your child may remember to buckle his seat belt, drive the speed limit, honor his curfew and respect his elders, it is becoming more and more likely that his world will collide with one of the thousands of young people out there with no attachments, no education, no hope and nothing to lose.