But in the midst of us are these children of ours who are like sponges and we can help them soak up so much good: intelligence and compassion, responsibility and humor, critical thinking and good listening.
Which is why it pains me to see parents who don’t engage with their youngsters much, or too quickly hand over an iPhone or other gadget to entertain them, or snap at them with disgust, or overreact to some minor inconvenience.
I cringe because these kids are the sponges who will someday be our community leaders.
If we want real change in this world, it should start with our parenting, because raising children to be responsible and compassionate adults is the only way for us to see healthier communities and a happier world.
With that utopian goal in mind, I offer some kudos to some parenting heroes I know.
“Heather” is recognizing some early onset anxiety in her 6-year-old, and in addition to getting some education and professional guidance, is also instilling in her little girl the notion that it is absolutely okay to share anything and all her feelings with her parents, and receive complete safety and support.
“Ann” is balancing a parent’s natural desire to hold on, with a teen’s natural desire to get away. It’s delicate – and scary – but she respects her teen’s individuality while also continuing to instill the kind of wisdom only a parent can really offer.
“Jim” is always able to put fun in the day even when the stress from a demanding job and challenges from some devastating circumstances that could make him an uptight and angry dad. He’s never too busy for bike ride to the pastry shop for a few unnecessary grams of sugar that grant him a sweet moment with his son.
“Lynn” puts up with continual bullying from her ex and his new wife and rather than giving in, finds the strength to continue fighting for the best options for her daughter.
“Barb” is the strongest child advocate I’ve ever known. She always puts her kids’ needs before her own—which seems contrary to this growing trend of parents thinking their time sipping lattes should have first priority. Her kids’ needs are particularly demanding, but she doesn’t complain about devoting all her energy to fulfilling them.
There are so many others. So many moms who are showing their kids what is right, noble, true and praise-worthy. So many dads demonstrating that their kids are more important than their paycheck … or football. So many parents coming to school to be present in the classroom, organizing activities and buying cheap crap from fundraisers to show their children that education is an important investment.
And so the hope—not the fanciful-wish-kind-of-hope, but the expectant-watching-kind-of-hope—of a bright, pleasant future is here in these parents’ kids.
Here’s to tomorrow. Now let’s go fill those sponges with something rich and wonderful.