Non-Violence Is Simply Not Enough
By Roxanne Baker
In the wake of the recent Marysville, Washington shooting, I can’t help but think of how non-violent our world could be if:
Parents cared about their children’s feelings the majority of the time. Walk in any airport, store, or restaurant right now and you’ll hear a child wailing and see a parent ignoring him or her. A parent’s role is to care for the needs of their children AND guide them to see what true needs are. To be clear, it’s not a parent’s role to buy their children unnecessary toys or candy, BUT it is crucial to explain to a child why it is that having everything is not an option and to provide them with an experience, a hug aka the positive attention that means more than any toy. This explanation can and needs to be done without berating the child.
If a child is simply too tired to be dragged along to a shopping or dining experience, the child shouldn’t then be ignored or screamed at, but rather considerations before taking subsequent excursions should be made. Because parents, the same rule applies to you as well as your child: you can’t have everything you want all the time either, especially if you commit to having a child. Parenting takes sacrifice.
Mind you, the young man’s parents from Maryville may have been the most empathic people on Earth. I have no idea. Yet parents need to be in tune with their child’s needs and emotions, not just when they are small, but even as adolescents. Brain development studies show that teens enter a new toddler stage as hormonal influences spike, and their ability to make wise choices is limited. They may look grown up, but their brains are not fully developed until their early 20’s.
So parents need to be intuitive, not so busy with their work or so wired to their technology that they’re parenting is now on auto-pilot.
We don’t need more studies to figure this out. We need people to seriously consider whether they have the empathy and attention span to devote to a 20+ year commitment of having a child, and we need more resources to help counsel the kids that don’t have caring parents.
Until we fill the emotional holes existing in our homes, the physical wounds will continue multiplying.
(Roxanne Baker has been a middle and high school educator and counselor for 29 years.)