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Parenting In Today's World PT II (Column Related)

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This Photo should have a sad face but it represents 1 pt V-Day, 1 pt child...and maybe a sliver of hope.

If you are visiting for the first time, this is Part II of a very emotionally motivated column. I don’t often write out of my flared emotions. I tend to instead, write out of logic, common sense, education and experience. I write about what readers might want to hear and need to feel (comfort, suggestion). Instead, this time my writing is based off of raw emotion; I did not write this quickly or without thought though.

After you’re done reading this, I invite you to please come back later, even if this wasn’t your favorite publication from us. Family Matters with Amber strives to be a super positive, uplifting, happy, friendly funny place to go. Our goal is to encourage readers and their families. We still will, through thick and thin, through heartbreak and tragedy, try to inspire, but we’re just not feelin’ super happy lately. No surprise, right? Kinda hard after what’s happened.

If you are visiting us from our News-Herald Ohio newspaper publication Pt. I of this story, thank you. You are affected too and we know this. We know you want better, and however we get there, we want to prove to our children that they are safe…we want to also believe that ourselves when we say it. We want help doing this…I get it, I understand…

For County Kids March issue I wrote a fun column about being a mom and how I know my kids love me, even through my misforgivings and after all the years of imperfection. It was a great column! Sadly, it meant nothing after February 14th.

PT I: . It started out as a typical day…except it wouldn’t end that way. I arrived home after work to greet my kids wanting to catch up with them. All the while I knew there might be an elephant in the room but hoped they were lucky enough to have gone through their whole day not knowing yet. (How naive was I?) I vowed to keep quiet about the news headlines and the reality of another school shooting. I just couldn’t bring myself to admit such a horrific event once again…or make them fearful. I don’t know if I was right to avoid the conversation or not, but I just wasn’t capable of going there again. It was short lived. My son greeted me, remote in hand (usually he’s reading a book after school, but not that day). He casually but solemnly pointed towards the tv, announcing, “I wanted to see which events were on the Olympics tonight…and well…I saw this…”. My heart stopped (and it actually ached). His thirteen-year-old innocent (but not so innocent) face stared at me…in disbelief, but not shock. Me. The same. But add a feeling of defeat. We aren’t surprised!? This is my reality as a parent in America, and this…is just…another commonplace conversation at home with my kids. I’m sickened. I’m P!$$&@!

Pt II: 
In theory we are supposed to be the ’land of the free, home of the brave’. On one hand, it’s liberating for my children. But not. It’s joyful for America, but not. Celebratory for our advancements, but not. It just seems that we are constantly fighting this battle to actually be free and brave. It’s more like terrorized and angry. We are parenting in a different time from when we grew up and it’s extremely confusing (and enraging). Times have changed…

Oh they’ve changed all right. We need cell phones to stay connected, but rarely use them to talk on… We worry about what we say to others and then in emotional moments we don’t give a hoot about what we say (or how the other feels). We care about our people, but people in power won’t face our problems (which could save people). We want peace, so we strike out bullying, but heads of our nation cannot get along for even a second to prove how important human life really is, never mind compromise. What has happened to our America? With power comes responsibility. Who has the power, and who wants the responsibility? I can’t tell. All I know is this…No matter what is going on in the world, I have a job to do, and it’s to focus on my children and their health and well-being…and I’m going to still do it, no matter what it takes.

Thinking back to times when I was little, there were problems then too. My grandmother was sure to give me the talk on the way out the door every morning before school. You see, I was a ‘walker’ and she always worried about child molesters and kidnappers (one in the same I’d come to realize as an adult): “Don’t stop, don’t talk to strangers, don’t walk too close to parked vehicles; they could steal you”. As I parent now I tell my kids to yell loudly “you aren’t my mom, what’s the password” and run like hell”. My dad gave me the drugs talk as preteen, “Just because your friends are doing it, doesn’t mean you have to”…got it, thanks Dad, I’m not that type of person, but thanks. There were thefts, arsonists and there were murders, and it was sometimes close to home. My best friend lived a quarter mile from where Michael Ross dumped one of his victim’s bodies; I lived about 2 miles from there. I think Jeffery Dahmer killed someone one just a town away from my current home. Times are different, aren’t they… No, actually they aren’t.  There are still cops, robbers, car chases, drugs, child molesters...I can’t recall there ever being a perfect time or era in the world when there was ever a lack of crime or violence or war. Was there ever world peace? Every president so far, to my knowledge, has failed to be successful in some way, or at least has been ridiculed and blamed for everything that has happened negatively in his term.

As I mentioned the fun upbeat column I had prepared,  I had to immediately contemplate changing the topic for March, even though I was all prepared and ready for submission. I decided to ask my kids their opinion. I sort of tried to avoid the conversation of Miami initially, but not because I don’t care, but because it’s an every week occurrence now that we hear of these awful acts of violence. I just feel like if it’s depressing to me as a parent, how do they feel as a kid? I will tell you that they weren’t 100% sold on my topic switch. When I asked why, one of them said society might be turned off and tired of it if I was to revisit the Miami school shooting. I mean it’s everywhere, all over radio, tv, news especially, now inside homes, hearts and classrooms. I asked if they thought that some people are desensitized or maybe they felt like they learned from this type of devastation already and wouldn’t want to hear it again. They said they both were possibly true. I agree with them. If I don’t talk about it, I’m avoiding it. If we look at the grandma down south who stopped her grandson from murdering schoolmates after the Valentine’s Day murders, then we can see we are learning.
While I (and many parents I bet) would like to side with my kids “This is out of control”. That’s the thing. We haven’t done it since Columbine, but we have to believe we can! Like many dysfunctions at home, in society and around the world, talking about it is where it starts. I’m feeling that this most recent intended-act-of-violence in Miami shows us that we have reached a point, a point where we are going to need many, many more people involved to fix things in America. Our problems are never going to be about one person, political figure or party, or perpetrator... as we are seeing…it’s going to be about the village.

In the face of times like these, we must keep moving on with the goal of parenting; working to make the world a better place for our children in our own homes first, and do our best to care for, nurture and encourage the children of society. The truth is, if we give up, they’ll give up. Crime will always will out there, drugs will always exist. But no matter what is happening in the world, we must not quit doing our best to learn from everything…from mistakes, from loss, and keep seeking solutions.
As I was winding down this piece the week I originally wrote it, I was watching the 2018 Winter Olympics and was hearing the song “Imagine” by John Lennon begin. It brought tears to my eyes, it’s one of my favorites, but it also brought a deeply embedded passion to help make a difference. And that feeling is when we don’t close our doors on the violence, fear, hurt and tragedy, but we actually walk out there and face it with our children and be the change we want to see in the world. Those students in Miami are the example.

Please pray with Family Matters with Amber for a positive revelation and movement in America going forward…and for strength, healing and hope for those affected in Miami and the rest of the nation.  

I found this recent article helpful when trying to figure out how and what to say to your kids after something like this happens:

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