Raising kids is hard business and I am sure I have said it before and I will say it again….it takes all of us. I look at my position as a high school teacher as being a part of a child’s village. My own children need a village for all of us to realistically accomplish all that we intend to. But what happens when that support system breaks down? And let’s be realistic it does. I see it daily. I see kids whose hearts are broken by the people in their lives. Kids who are cruel because they have the ability to be cruel. Or parents who allow it to happen.
It is hard sometimes being the onlooker to this cruelty and not having the power or ability to do anything about it. There are quite a few things I know about myself and that is I am compassionate, empathetic and forgiving. I live this in my daily life.
I raise my daughters this way. I teach the children in my classroom these actions by showing them. We are all human and all our needs are so basic. We love. We need to know we are accepted for who we are and we need to feel supported in this life. But everyday I see this breakdown.
I see children who are forced to live in an adult world where they are forced to make adult decisions or are treated as mini versions of their adult selves and often times we excuse ourselves from this pressure we put on them with this ridiculous notion that, “They need to know” or “they have to learn.” And I call crap. I say no that is unacceptable.
Why do they need to learn that the world is cruel by those they are entrusted to? Their friends if they don’t act like real friends than how in the world should they expect those peers who are not their friends to treat them? The adults that are supposed to be their support system don’t support and say, “live with it” or “get over it”. And these are the people who care about them and are looking out for them. But are they?
The reality is that the world is cruel and kids are on a fast moving train to the cruel world where their “friends” aren’t real friends or the people that are responsible for their well being fall deafening short of the job that they are somehow entitled too.
But I make a conscious choice every single day to not live like that. I won’t contribute to the cruelty. You can teach your children/students/children entrusted in your circle about the world without adding to the cruelty despite the pressure to do such. Entrusted doesn’t mean the right to break them.
You do so by deciding everyday that when you go to bed at night no child will cry because of a decision you made that day. That you face everyday trying to be the best model adult of a non-cruel world you can be living and breathing the kindness and true guide they need. You do so by raising children under your steed to make that same choice. And you acknowledge when you fall short and you will. You don’t hide behind some self righteous belief it is good for them to experience the cruelty. What is good is for them to see the fall and your reaction to it.
And I say this not from a picture of a perfection. Sadly, I say it from experience of not living that world and reaping the consequences of that decision. For me, knowing that I made a decision in my day that took a little piece of the beautiful innocence that a child once possessed was too much. I can never operate from a place where shame is okay and hurt reigns supreme. It goes against every fiber of who I am and who I pray and hope I am raising my children to be. Unfortunately, it took time and hurts to get there.
It also requires me to be extremely cognizant of the words, actions and effort I put into the world. Remember the phrase, “people won’t remember what you said, but they will remember how you made them feel.” No truer statement can be spoken.
I work hard on my own personal social circle to be sure my own daughters have adults in their lives who believe and live the way we live and will care and love them like I do. That they have friends in their life that carry a similar kindness for them. Friends will hurt you, but never ever will it happen intentionally. If it is intentional it isn’t a friendship.
Those are all hard lessons and ones that have to be learned and relearned. Learn from your mistakes, apologize when you make a mistake. Let love win. It deserves to.