As I was grading papers this past weekend something was sadly brought to my attention. If it wasn't for a decade now in the classroom, I think I would still be naïve to this as an actual problem. I look around at my friends now as parents, my coworkers who are balancing parenthood with me, and the moms I've met in this virtual world we now live in, and I see the love and enjoyment they have in their children. I delight in seeing their pictures and hearing their stories of the time they've spent with their children whether it's now or memories of the past. This is the world I grew up in; it's the only kind of world I know how to raise my own children in. I surround myself with people that only know the same thing. We see our children as gifts from God, as something to treasure and mold with our love. Our love and the childhoods we give them is what molds them into the adults they become.
But there's another world teaching has opened my eyes to. It's a world where a child grows up feeling unloved because they're different, unloved because their parents love material objects more, unloved because their parent has an addiction they love more than their own child. it's a world where a child feels unloved because their father abandoned their family for another woman and her children, they feel unloved because they remind their mother of the man that she despises. I'm beginning to think I've read it all. It breaks my heart. Teaching gives me a window into others' lives and stories in a way I never imagined possible. Unfortunately, I've encountered more that break my heart than fill it with wonder. Their heartache and disappointment is so raw and real on the paper in which they write their stories. I often wonder do their parents know? Do they care?
Childhood is what shapes our hope, our perception of the world, our own visions for family and happiness. Imagine robbing that hope and magic from your childhood.
Unfortunately, the parents that need to read or hear this don't read this blog or probably any parenting blog for that matter. If they did, here is what I would say to them. Play with your child. Build something with blocks with them, roll around in the grass or snow with them, bake together, color together, play catch and go for walks together, cuddle with them even when they're too old, play hide and seek, make dinner together. Just be there for them. Encourage them in the things they do. Love them for who they are. Love them when they upset you. Help them understand it's okay to make mistakes and that there's beauty in their imperfections. Parenting is hard and we all make mistakes but all that is okay if we give them our unconditional love and time. So to those parents, I would say give your child the gift of a childhood worth remembering.
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