My sister asked me to talk about the youth because she and I are both concerned about what it is we can do to encourage the next generation. Coming from a town in New York, and working for the school system there, I had front row seats to what was good and bad about our youth. Every person, as well as every child, comes from varied backgrounds. However, I think that Oprah Winfrey said it best when she said,”We all just want to be validated.” So if this is true, then how can we as parents not only validate our own children but those that we see every day in our own communities.You may be thinking that It seems like such a gigantic task and you are but one person. How can I make a difference? We are so busy these days after all, caring for our own families. If you think big it seems like an enormous task but if you think small it may be something you can accomplish on a monthly, weekly, or maybe a daily basis. By small I mean, how many times have you driven your child anywhere? Well, without you even knowing it, you probably have taken on the task of driving your child’s friend or friends to a game, practice, to or from work. Most of the time it goes something like this: “Mom this is my friend, he or she needs a ride, and can you take him or her there?” To your surprise you say “Yes”, almost every time. You can’t let him or her walk so far…….and it’s late at night…..and what if it were your child.” “Well, okay,” you say to yourself, “just this time.” You end up doing it over and over again. Since you are going to do it anyway, why not do it on a regular basis. If you have to pick your son up from practice, from a game or from work; picking up or dropping off one or two more people won’t be so bad.
How many times have you heard a knock at the door. It’s your child and he or she has brought along a friend, unannounced. Instead of getting too angry, when they do it time and time again, think of it as “supplying a place for young people to gather that is safe.” Think of how happy their parents will be and think of how relieved you will be, in getting to know who your children’s friends are. Granted, if the size of the crowd gets too big; in the summer time when the basketball court in the back yard begins to look like the school yard, you can narrow it down to just a few good friends.
Another way we can be of service is if we, on a daily basis, transport our children to or from school, another child tagging along will not complicate things too much. Then if you are dropping off and picking up, you might as well assist in monitoring the activity in the morning and the afternoon. No one has to know what you are doing. If you see anything, you can bring it to the attention of school staff or police control.
Now, if you put it all together, you are now chauffeur, safety monitor, “recreation center”, and “car pool” and you have not done anything different then you usually do. Well, maybe just a little. We can make a difference in the education, safety, and well being of other children, just by simply being there. Think about it.