Lately, it’s a constant cycle of heartbreak. How many more cities do we have to pray for? How many more donations can we make? How many more tragic events can our country endure before real change happens?
It’s no longer enough to feel sorry, sad, depressed for our hurting world. It’s no longer enough to try to explain a never-ending string of horrific acts to our children. Empathetic parenting is not enough anymore.
I am a parent basically screaming at the top of my lungs: “What else can I do?!”
We, as parents, can’t sit on the sidelines if we expect tragedy to stop. Ending world tragedy begins at home — now, right now. Here’s what I’m doing to break the cycle. Here’s what you can do too.
Let me start by saying, I’m not here to get on my political soapbox. I’m not here to start an argument or try to fuel the fire. It’s tense right now: emotions flaring, words spewing too fast for our brains to catch up, people forcing divisions and lines and sides. We are on the edge of losing it. Instead, I hope you’ll read this with reflection as you picture the most important people in your world — your family, your kids — standing right in front of you. That’s where the heart-wrenching pull, that motivation to change is going to occur. That’s what writing this post has done for me. Ready now? Deep breath.
Love so hard, it hurts.
Parents, we all know that love is the essential foundation of our very being. We love our kids; I don’t deny that. But we also get angry. We lose our tempers often. We neglect needs. We are broken, imperfect people. I’m tired; I know you are too. But I’m also tired of seeing so much violence, hate, and anger in the world.
What if we, as parents, could love just a little more, hug just a little more often (yes, even in public), kiss our kids longer, tell them that love is the answer and conquers all? What if we show our kids how to love just a little better? What if we love our kids so hard that it hurts, as in hurts to do anything else? What if we loved our kids so hard, hate never even crossed their minds? With so much love in our lives, there’s no room for hate. I imagine a world such as this.
Never stop the conversation.
We have this tendency of pushing our kids in front of technology when we’re tired and burned-out. We are missing opportunities to talk to our kids about real issues. Pain, grief, depression, sorrow — these are real and can happen to us and our kids at any time. But internalizing these feelings isn’t enough. Shielding our kids from this part of the world isn’t enough. Empathizing isn’t enough. Allow your kids to express their feelings and keep them from bottling up inside. Don’t let that inner turmoil and anger boil over. We need to let our kids know that they are not alone. Talk to your kids — and never stop the open conversations with them.
Self-absorbed. Entitled. Full of judgement. Thriving on negativity. In love with tragedy. I don’t know about you, but when I scroll social media these days, all I see is unhappiness. Pictures of kids growing up and families having fun are being replaced with hot-headed rants and political warfare. A place where I used to come to escape my own little world for a dose of happy updates is now a place that I dread — people against people. What happened to us, parents?
We are programmed now to live in a world that’s hurting. And we love to feel hurt and take things personally. But if we get at the core of you and me, we are people desperate for community, friendship, and love. I know that I have to fix me. I can’t let the world suck me in, but I need to lead with the heart to change and be changed. Lead, parents.
We need to lead with a different mindset. We need to hit the switch and change the way we react to situations. We need to change the way we respond to people. We need to know that deep inside every single one of us is a soul, a person who is in desperate need of love. We are human — full of mistakes, broken and desperate — but we are beautiful and adaptable to change. I am working desperately to fix me — by getting off social media, by interacting with real people, by loving even when it seems unlovable. I don’t need to be like the world. I need to be better for my family.
Be their heroes.
Action, parents. It’s more than talking. It’s more than hoping. It’s doing. It’s being. It is. Those values we want our kids to hold? Those central core morals we want to pass down? Those beliefs that grip our hearts? What if we as parents were shining examples of the people we want our kids to be? Our kids follow by example. Our kids imitate their heroes. We need to be those heroes. No more complaining, bashing, gossiping, judging, angering — you get the picture. Parents, we need to be our kids’ superheroes.
Start a chain reaction.
Maybe these endless chains of horrific events won’t end in this generation, but maybe it will with our next generation. Regardless, it’s our job as parents to be there for our kids. Change begins right here, right now at home. It begins with us, and it ends with them. Start that chain reaction with us being the heroes we need to be for our kids, with our kids imitating our good examples, with our kids shining love and light into the world instead of hate.
I won’t stop praying for our cities and our country and our world. I won’t stop hoping for a better tomorrow. I won’t stop empathizing with the world filled with hurting people. I won’t stop donating, giving, and trying to make the world a better place. But I do believe that if we can get to the very core of violence and make an impact on the direct humans in our lives — our kids — that’s when the shootings will stop, terrorism will end, racism will cease, and love with overpower everything. I believe that ending world tragedy begins right here in our homes, in our hearts. But we need to be willing to do something about it.