Parenting is a difficult job at any time because of its immense responsibility. It is even more difficult now.
In addition to supporting children and teaching them all they need to know to grow up to be loving family members and contributing citizens, moms and dads have to prepare them to be “safe” physically and mentally. Those lessons are complicated by the chaotic nature of our world today.
Parents have been tasked with additional chores in recent months as our health, society and economy have been threatened by COVID-19 and the social unrest following the murder of George Floyd. They have been required to assume virtual school teaching roles and, since churches have also been closed, they have once again become the foundation of religious instruction.
They have done all this while being bombarded with statistics of disease, death, brutality, injustice and the cultural wrongs of the past. The news hammers these issues home 24/7. It’s a wonder that any of us, much less our children, feel safe.
Televised reports rarely concentrate on the tales of recovery and endurance but rather on the suffering and the opportunists who lie, loot and vandalize. That has not been true of life here in Miami County, and we need to remind ourselves of that.
Our disease rate has been low. To date, we have had no virus-related deaths. Our public safety forces continue to “protect and serve” our populace. These are the things our children need to know. We need to stress the positive.
That positive can sometimes be difficult to find, but is always there. I have sought it all my adult life even when violence and mayhem appeared to be in charge. It was easier in the past before television and the internet brought horrors into our homes. It became more difficult in the 1960s and sometimes seems impossible now.
But we can and we must inoculate our children against the infection of the coronavirus and the prejudice, ignorance, anger and fear that complicate the lives of many, especially those threatened by loss of jobs and uncertainty about the future.
I tell our grandchildren that I continue to believe that humans are complicated but also brave, long-suffering and often heroic. I add that we can’t really judge others. We can never completely understand others, no matter our relationships with them.
People are as they are and act as they do for reasons we are not always able to grasp. We don’t have to be concerned with “whys” as much as “how.” “How” have we helped foster this behavior? Too often, that has been by turning our backs and choosing not to see what’s happening.
We cannot continue to do that. We have to help our moms and dads assure their children that everyone has those unalienable rights of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” Those rights, of course, have to be assured within the parameters of law and not of individual judgement. That, too, is complicated.