Sunday, December 16, 2012

Life Lessons: It takes a village to raise a child

Yesterday morning, I woke up to the news of the Sandy Hook school shooting. My heart sank.

Being a mother myself, I can't even begin to imagine what those children's parents are feeling, and I'm talking about both victims and survivors parents. How do you accept the loss of your child who might have not even mastered his or her multiplication tables, was probably still learning how to read, who thought McDonald's was gourmet food and who still walks to your room in the middle of the night to snuggle in bed with you?

As a parent, how do you explain to your child who survived that her friends are dead? How do you remove that incident from their minds, how do you even begin to explain it to them? How do you bring back their shattered innocence? How do you get them to sleep alone at night, want to go back to school, or even trust anyone again? How do you keep fear from invading their hearts at such a young age?

It's really a different world they are living in now and my only fear is that it hardens them, that they become jaded and think this is normal.

As for the shooter, so many are quick to judge him and call him a pathetic psychopath. Yes, what he did was horrific, unforgivable and evil. But the thing is, he was 20 years old. TWENTY-still practically a child himself. At 20, you are still in school, probably not working and going through the changes that separate your childhood from becoming an adult. What I want to know is what could have possibly happened to a person that young to make him feel like this was his only resort? That doing that made sense and was ok? That he had no other options? I have conflicting feelings of anger and wondering if anyone could have helped him early enough so this might have not have had to happen.

Parents, spend time with your children, not only when things like this happen, but regularly, because only when you spend time with them can you observe them, and a lot of the time, they won't tell us if there is anything wrong. My daughter for instance, will fight to the death to pretend that situations don't faze her. She is 8 and already feels like she has to put up a front that she is strong and that she doesn't care, but if I press her to, and explain to her that her opinion really matters to me, that what she thinks is important and part of my decision making, she will eventually break down and show emotion. She'll cry and tell me how she really feels. Use your instincts. Observe. Get to know your kids, so you can tell when there is something off. Monitor what they watch and read. Check on what music they listen to. Although I am a firm believer that you can't fully blame media for your children's bad habits and actions, there is such a thing as being too young to understand and process certain things, so keeping things age appropriate is indeed the parents' job. Explaining what they hear and see is a parent's job.

Our children are thinking, feeling human beings, only they haven't fully learned how to process things, how to understand and how to be discerning about what they see and hear. They might learn the basics of wrong and right at home, but throw the rest of the world outside your small bubble in the mix and that's when things get complicated.

Sandy Hook is just one and the most recent in a string of school shootings in the past decade. Not all the gunmen have been young but a good amount have been school age or just slightly older-basically all still "kids" mentally and emotionally. It's hard to be a kid nowadays. Heck, it's hard to be an adult. Mix that with media telling you violence is cool, unavailable parents and the access to weapons, and well, we may have a problem. But who am I to say that these are the reasons? I am an anonymous single mother from a small country in the other side of the world.

All I know is this: It takes a village to raise a child. We are all responsible for our own children, and everybody else's. It's a joint effort. If nobody cares, then we are to be blamed for how our children think, act and speak as they grow up.

Again, I may not know what the hell I'm talking about. I'm an imperfect parent in an imperfect world. I guess all we can really do is try our best.

Charlotte Bacon, 6, Daniel Barden, 7, Olivia Engel, 6, Josephine Gay, 7, Ana M. Marquez-Greene, 6, Dylan Hockley, 6, Madeleine F. Hsu, 6, Catherine V. Hubbard, 6, Chase Kowalski, 7, Jesse Lewis, 6, James Mattioli, 6, Grace McDonnell, 7, Anne Marie Murphy, 52, Emilie Parker, 6, Jack Pinto, 6, Noah Pozner, 6, Caroline Previdi, 6, Jessica Rekos, 6, Avielle Richman, 6, Benjamin Wheeler, 6, Allison N. Wyatt, 6
Rest in Peace little ones.

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