Please promise me that you won’t be the parent that chooses to not see what’s really going on with their kids.
Please promise me that you won’t be scared to ask tough questions when something doesn’t appear right.
Please promise me that you will take what they tell you seriously, no matter how weird or crazy it sounds or looks.
Please promise me that you will not become oblivious to what’s going on around you.
We’re in the middle of dealing with some pretty serious stuff with kids right now. It’s heartbreaking, terrifying and maddening all at the same time. I would love to just brush it all off as attention seeking or bad behaviour, but I can’t. I would love to just be able to close my eyes and pretend like it’s not happening, but it is. I want to stop thinking about it but I need to fix it. I want my kids to just be kids.
So many parents choose to not believe that their children would do something really bad or illegal even. They refuse to believe that their 12 year olds are drinking, using drugs and having sex. They’ve never even heard of cutting, asphyxiation games or rainbow parties. I’m telling you these things are very real, and your children can and will hide them from you.
Kids today are dealing with things at 11 & 12 that I didn’t even learn about until I was an adult. They’re “leaving” rehab 5 years before they’re old enough to even drink. They’re pregnant within months of getting their period. They are desperately seeking love and attention from anything and anyone. Things that would terrify you and I are normal daily occurrences for them.
Watch for changes in your children or your children’s friends. Big swings in moods or attitude, change in appetite or weird sleep patterns are quite often signs that something is wrong. Wearing long sleeves all the time, even when it’s +30 or lots of bracelets, could mean that they’re covering something up. Does your kid that loves to hang out with Mom, suddenly never leave his bedroom? All of these things could mean something or they could mean nothing. Just pay attention to your kids, and watch for changes. If something doesn’t feel right to you, test it. A Mother’s intuition is an amazing thing … listen to it.
I know that not all kids are dealing with this stuff, but I do know that there’s a lot more than you would think. I’m one of those parents that reads everything that their children write on the internet. Facebook. Twitter, Textplus, imessage … nothing is safe from my eyes. My children all know that, so they’ve had fair warning. Do I think I’m imposing on their rights? Nope, they’re children that quite often need to be protected from themselves. Because of that, I’ve seen and heard many things and can say without question that my children are not alone in their battles. And frankly, if you haven’t checked in on what your kid is saying or doing online because “they’re good kids and you trust them”, go now and read. I will hope and pray that you find nothing.
What I’m asking you to do as adults, is to step up and mentor our youth. Be an example of what they could be. Show them that it’s okay to be smart, and funny, and to just be themselves. Become a “safe” adult in their lives and give them the opportunity to share without judgement. Don’t treat them like they’re a nuisance or a waste of space. Listen when they speak and then respond in terms that they will understand. When you learn something a bit scary, don’t freak out. You’re going to want to, but don’t. If they’re sharing, let them keep going. If they need more help than you can give, get them the help they need.
Be a strong presence in their lives and never assume that your child is perfect. Your kids need you to “see them”. Please, please do not be oblivious.
*Again this is 13 years of foster parent speaking. I’m not painting all kids or even my kids with the same brush. I just desperately want people to open their eyes and see things that they may have never seen before. I want kids to get the help they need before it’s too late. I want to make a difference in someone’s life.
This post is Day 17 of the Summer Blog Challenge – 31 posts in 31 Days
Please visit my fellow challenge bloggers and read their stories.