One Wish, Please
We watch as suffering comes over the world. A mother cries for her lost child. A father mourns the death of his son, who was sent off to fight a war that should have never been. A parent mourns the loss of the son or daughter they believed they had in order to discover the new trans child they will get to love. A child endures bullying at home, while another child becomes the bully at school. Somewhere in a police station, a human being’s rights are violated. Marchers descend on a capitol in hopes of bringing a message of solidarity with those on the margins. A young boy witnesses the death of his friend on the streets of the inner city. We become one of six. There is trauma in all of this.
It seems that the cycle never ends, despite the cries of the injured and the questioning of parents, and others who care about the victims of what can’t be stopped. If only the emotional pain would end. Life doesn’t offer that. We protest the needless suffering, bigotry, senseless acts of violence, and raise the question of where and how it all began. Ultimately it begins in the home.
If I could wish one thing for the world we inhabit, it would be to have functional homes, where each human being is loved, honored, respected, and has a recognized voice. A home where each child is raised to enter the world as a functional adult who is ready to take their place in society and contribute to making the world a better place. What a wish! I’m not wishing for utopia. I’m wishing for something better: a healthy peace for all. It starts in homes. Oh, I want to see this happen!
A home with a loving parent(s) who offers up a platter of love, protection, and acceptance to a child so that they can become who they were born to be. I salute the courageous! I honor those who try to learn and understand what might be different to them. I honor the parent who says “I don’t understand, and I’m committed to learning” when their LGBTQ2s child comes to them with fear of the consequences of coming out: first to themselves, and then to others.
I applaud the enabled person who struggles to meet daily challenges in an abled world. The parent who shepherds the child in the hard times as well as the good times. Homes need to be safe havens for all of us.
I’m not building to a kumbaya moment here—that takes a great deal of work. I’m building to something else: peace. The peace-filled home that spills over into the neighborhood, then the city, and spreads out to all corners of all nations: it begins within our homes.
Saying it is one thing, and implementing it is quite another process. My husband’s psychiatrist once made the point that all voices in a family need to be heard, acknowledged, and respected. Parenting isn’t about giving orders; it’s about guiding, setting boundaries, and being willing to have hard conversations with growing children of all ages. Parents create a micro-community in their homes when they commit to bring tiny humans to dwell with them.
It’s about accepting your child for who they are, and where they are, offering a safe space to explore their identity, speak their point of view, and explore their own values. Eventually, children need to make their way out of the home and into the world. Happy, healthy adults have experienced many of these things.
Mentoring begins from birth. Mentoring is about parents doing things with kids, making it fun, teaching them the value of working for something, and waiting for results. It’s about offering children healthy choices so that as they grow, they develop empathy, social skills, insight, and inner strength.
Boomers were raised by parents who dealt with the Depression and WWII. Their children faced the 60s and 70s and began to question the culture of parents and grandparents who came out of a more authoritarian view. And then, things started moving faster. I believe that with Gen X and beyond, we’ve never quite caught up. Time has sped up, society has changed radically, and with it, the home has been rocked on its foundation. There is a real need to re-examine relationships and to have hard conversations about what works and doesn’t work.
One of the consequences of this radical shift is that parents say “yes” when they need to say “no.” Yes and no have to do with setting a healthy boundary. It is about helping a developing child understand long-term choices and offering the mentoring to enable them to think it through for themselves. Now more than ever, children need the skill of thinking it out for themselves! The thinking starts when parents offer up limits such as a healthy diet that incorporates varied food choices, or reading to children daily and offering up experiences that teach the young child to choose good and age-appropriate things. It’s a confidence builder. It continues as the child matures and is able to make task-appropriate choices that will enable them to learn and grow. When a child experiences failure, with a parent encouraging them to give it another go around, they will! I also understand that some parents are faced with needing the village to step in while they work three jobs. Who we put in our villages can enable parents to have that needed assistance to raise the child to healthy adulthood. Successful single parents and two-parent families have a village to back them up.
I acknowledge that I’m speaking from a point of privilege. I grew up within a home where there were two parents, and they were able to provide the basics but not the luxuries. Money was tight and there was a village of extended family and community.
With the way things have sped up, it is essential to cultivate relationships that include extended family, friends, community members, schools, and charitable organizations. A parent may not know their village until a crisis happens.
My wish includes people sharing a meal and coming together to learn from one another: people who discover that in diversity, there are both differences and sameness. The sameness begins with recognizing that we are all humans residing on this pale blue dot. The diversity offers up the gift of human understanding, culture, and a differing world view that teaches us to learn, listen, and understand. In table fellowship, we offer up the gift of being heard. It is listening that bridges gaps, strengthens the person, enters the home, and moves forward to influence the neighborhood, the community, and eventually the world.