Before our babies are born, we agonize over what to eat and what not to eat. We spend days pondering over what crib is safest and what kind of swaddle will prevent SIDS. We then feed our children pesticide-free food and surround them with things labeled “organic” because we only want the best for them. We spend the majority of our time making sure our children are safe in the car, at daycare, at school, in our homes with high end car seats and well-researched schools and gates to keep them away from stairs. These pure little beings are our world and they depend on us to protect them. All we want is create a beautiful life for our families in this usually beautiful world.
The Sandy Hook parents sent their children to school in December last year in mittens and hats to keep them warm. They fed them breakfast and packed lunches for them. They made sure they got enough sleep the night before. Yet, they couldn’t keep their babies safe.
The day of the marathon here in Boston, people unknowingly gathered to watch loved ones with excitement. Husbands waited for wives, friends waited for friends, and children cheered their parents on during the last stretch of the race. The parents with children in tow made sure they had snacks packed and water on hand while not letting them out of their sight in a such a large crowd. All I can think about is the little boy, Martin, who ran out to hug his dad and died soon after. Yet, with all of the consideration of what the kids would need that day, these parents couldn’t keep their babies safe.
From the 3 month old injured in the shooting at the Aurora movie theatre in July and all of the many tragedies we’ve seen in the past few years, we parents have a lot to think about.
How do we do it? How do we raise our children? How do we keep them safe?
It is something I’ve been obsessing about all week. It makes me want to homeschool and live off the grid at moments. However, we can’t live like that. We can’t think that everything we do and every place we go, we’ll encounter some sort of evil lurking around every corner. It feels like that right now, but I’m going to quote one of my favorite characters on one of my favorite TV shows. On an episode of SVU, while discussing whether or not an 8 year old boy should have walked to the store alone for Pokeman cards, Munch said something like, “If we don’t let them have any independence, we’ll end up with safe little neurotics.” For some reason, that stuck with me. So, I suppose we have to find the balance of keeping them safe while letting them live and learn and feel like they can stand on their own two feet.
What we can do is raise our children with a ton of love. We can teach them tolerance of other people that may be different from them: different skin color, different religion, different language, different sexual-orientation, etc. We can raise them to love themselves and love other people. We can make sure they always know that we love them and build a strong foundation with affection, trust, stability, discipline, structure, and acceptance, which I can only hope will result in confidence, a positive outlook, the ability to stand up for what they believe in, a caring nature towards other people and creatures, and a sensitivity required simply to care and not become desensitized and apathetic.
I think every generation has said they have a far bigger challenge raising children than the one before. We have media overload to think about. We have to consider the amount of violence we allow into our children’s lives through the TV screen and video games. We have online bullying and online sexual predators to deal with. These are things our parents didn’t have to think about when we were children and now we have to make the rules; find balance. We have to figure out where to draw the line.
We can do this, fellow parents. We can create a generation of loving, caring children if we really put the time and effort into it. I don’t know how, but this will be what I aim for as a mom. I can’t always keep my child safe and I won’t live in fear, but I will do everything I can as a parent to make sure he has the strength, knowledge, and compassion to make a difference in this world.
Personally, I will try find a way to stop obsessing about the recent tragedies. I haven’t been able to quiet my mind while falling asleep or driving yet. I find myself imagining what those parents and families went/are going through and I let it break my heart again and again. We in Boston, New England, this country, and the globe have to find a way to not let it eat away at us, no matter how hard it may be and no matter how much we want to find a way to understand the violence, but can’t. Please feel free to share your own struggles and thoughts in the comments section below. I know we all have something to say.