Saturday, June 8, 2013

Know Your Kids?


      Not sure how long this post will be.  It is something I have always felt strongly about, and today, as a parent, more than ever.
      How well do we know our kids?  Let's start with the light stuff.  Favorite color?  Favorite ice cream?  Favorite food? Favorite movie? Favorite TV show? Favorite sport? Favorite book? Favorite song?  Favorite thing to do rain or shine?  Now, a little heavier: favorite class? favorite teacher? Why? Do they have a best friend? Do you know who it is? Do you know their parents?  Heavier: What frightens them? Real and imaginary, example: being laughed at vs. vampires.  What makes them happy?  Do they have thoughts about what they want to be when they grow up?  Are there any kids that they don't get a long with?  Are they being bullied?  Are they bullying anyone?  How do they wish their life was different? Now for the difficult odd questions that we think are a given, but are they?  How do they regard killing? How do they think of death?  Do they understand that for all we know it is final?  How do they see themselves? When they think of you, what do they think of?  Your spouse? Other siblings, and other family members?  What do they think you expect of them?
You know as well as I this is only the tip of the iceberg.

     We live in a time where our children are exposed to so much.   Some of it obviously good or bad, but then, some doesn't fit into "good or bad";  some things we just don't know, and who knows how our kids are understanding it all?  They could be the victim, or they could also be the assailant.  Yesterday there was a shooting in Santa Monica.   Skylar Neese, a 16 year old from WV,  snuck out with two friends last summer, who later that night stabbed her to death.  One of the murderers feigned concern and tried to help the parents find their daughter, which was understandable to the parents since she had been inseparable with their daughter.  Months after the incident, she confessed to the murder along with another girl.  The reason?  They didn't want to be friends with her anymore.
 
     All of these are someones kids.   I know as parents we, as our parents did, and theirs before, are doing the best we can.   Every now and then though, I think we need to think about our relationships with our kids.   Ask ourselves the hard questions; then ask our kids the same questions.

My daughters are young, but I know, NOW is the time to start. 
 
HAVE LOTS AND LOTS OF DIFFICULT, AWKWARD CONVERSATIONS.  DIG DEEP.

REMEMBER- IT'S NOT ABOUT BEING RIGHT.

LISTEN.

REMEMBER THEY ARE KIDS.  THEY STILL HAVE STRESS.  DON'T PUT MORE ON THEM.

REMIND THEM THAT EVERY ACTION, AND CHOICE COMES WITH A CONSEQUENCE.

FIX YOUR PROBLEMS.  IT'S ONE THING FOR YOUR KIDS TO BE AWARE, IT'S ANOTHER FOR THEM TO BELIEVE IT'S UP TO THEM, TO FIX YOUR MARRIAGE, YOUR FINANCIAL PROBLEMS, ETC.  YOUR KIDS ARE NOT YOUR MOTHER, FATHER, SISTER, BROTHER. YOUR GIRLFRIENDS, BUDDIES  OR YOUR SHRINK.

Is this a lot?   Yup.   But I think we owe it to our children, ourselves, and our communities, to try and keep trying.

We can't fix it all by ourselves, but if we keep trying we can sure make it better.

YOU ARE A PARENT. GO THE DISTANCE.  THERE IS NO CONSOLATION FOR ANYTHING LESS.