Our Children, Our World, Our Responsibility
My heart is broken. I’ve lost a child to stillbirth and many more to miscarriage, so I know loss all too well, and yet I have a six-year-old and can’t even imagine what the parents of the twenty precious children slain in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting are going through. The stray toys and shoes left in mute remembrance of the last moments before their little ones left for school, the empty bedrooms sitting in silent mourning through the long nights, the endless reminders that must steal their breath away at every turn.
I want to be angry, but I won’t waste my time and energy focusing on evil. Instead, I will pour my prayers out for the families and friends and communities so devastated, and I will do everything I possibly can in every way I possibly can for as long as I possibly can to change the world into a safer, more peaceful place for all of our children.
Change, the real, lasting, world-revolutionizing kind, starts in the home. It starts with sowing peace into our children’s hearts from the moment they are born. It starts with modeling kindness, respect, and self-control to our children, not only in how we treat others in front of them, but in how we treat our children themselves. And it starts in our own hearts, in our own choices, in our own lives.
While human idiosyncrasies and weaknesses make a world completely devoid of violence and tragedy impossible, there is so much that can and should be different, better, safer. We may never know if the devastation of the recent elementary school shooting, or others like it, could have been prevented by different gun laws, security measures in schools, etc. But there is no doubt that the humans carrying out these senseless acts didn’t come into the world as violent killers. Something or someone, somewhere in their lives, broke the innocent children they once were and set off a series of events that led to horrific tragedy.
That is not to say that the individuals who committed these heinous acts aren’t to blame. They are. We are, each of us, responsible for our own choices, and, regardless of what previous life events, hurts, or tragedies we suffer, we have within us the ability to make the right choices, period. But, by the same token, if the hurts or tragedies that broke these individuals in the first place were caused by human violence, excesses, or failures, then those humans, as well, must bear their own responsibility.
The truth is that ‘hurting people hurt people.’ But if we raise confident, kind, heart-whole humans who can withstand the inevitable trials and troubles of life, if we ferociously guard our children’s innocence, if we model the kind of compassionate, forgiving, loving adults we want our children to become, then we truly can ‘be the change we want to see in the world.’
Let’s change the way we raise our children from the present mindset of external control through punishment, threats, and intimidation and instead instill internal controls through guidance, understanding, and empathy. Let’s encourage cooperation instead of demanding obedience. Let’s model self-control to our children instead of inflicting our anger on our children. Let’s share our lives, hearts, hopes, and dreams with them instead of distancing ourselves with our electronic devices, heavy workloads, over-scheduling, and with parenting practices that promote isolation such as sleep training and negative, punitive behavioral modification such as spanking, public humiliation, and withholding our presence, support, and affection as a ransom for good behavior.
We may not be able to significantly change this present world for our children, but if we change the way we raise our children, we can change the future world through our children.
Will you join me?
L.R.Knost is a best-selling parenting and children’s book author and founder and director of Little Hearts/Gentle Parenting Resources, an online resource for gentle parenting education, articles, and research. Books by L.R.Knost include Whispers Through Time: Communication Through the Ages and Stages of Childhood ; Two Thousand Kisses a Day: Gentle Parenting Through the Ages and Stages ; The Gentle Parent: Positive, Practical, Effective Discipline ; and Jesus, the Gentle Parent: Gentle Christian Parenting (Release date: May 2014) the first four books in the Little Hearts Handbook gentle parenting series, as well as her children’s picture books Petey’s Listening Ears and the soon-to-be-released Grumpykins series available from Amazon and other major retailers.