As a parent of a teenage girl, I cannot begin to imagine the pain felt by the parents of the Steubenville victims. Just this afternoon I read a similar story about a 17 year old girl from Ottawa, Canada, named Rehtaeh Parsons. She, however, was driven to suicide. Such a pretty young lady and a tragic story.
We try to so hard to teach our kids, guide them, and help them understand right from wrong. We want them to understand that when we say “choose your friends wisely”, we are not trying to run their lives. Literally, in this day, we are trying to save their lives.
The people our teens choose to spend time with, and the way they choose to spend their time, is no longer a simple decision to make. The availability of drugs, alcohol, and even entire homes is so much greater than it used to be. Being a parent these days is more challenging than ever. It is a scary world to raise kids in. So many of us without even realizing it – are enabling our kids. We buy them cars, and smartphones. We give them money instead of making them earn it. We do what we can to keep them happy, but at what cost?
I am not saying that tragedies such as the steubenville rape case could have been avoided by proper parenting. This is a terrible tragedy that breaks my heart. What I am saying though, is as parents, we have to be so very careful. I am far from the perfect parent. My daughter has had her share of trouble including being a victim of sexual assault herself. Could I have made her stay home that day? Sure I could have, but I know she would have found a way to get into trouble anyways. She is strong-willed and probably would have snuck out to get her way. Letting her go spend time with her friends that summer day was a small step in letting go. That’s what we have to do as parents. We let go and hope they make wise choices. Unfortunately it sometimes doesn’t turn out so great.
Do you ever just wish you could crawl inside their brains and force them to make the right choice? Choose the right response? What a difference our kids could make if when they are chosen as team captain, they pick the one that is always picked last first? What an impact that could have! Why can’t our kids see that? It would be such a simple thing to do!
Referring back to the young girl from Canada, I wonder what it would have taken for her to find value in herself? I wonder if it would have been that hard to do. A kind word, a smile, an invitation to sit at a lunch table. When you think back on your own middle school and high school years, do you remember a time when someone went out of their way to be nice to you or help you? If you do, it was probably a simple gesture on their part, but you never forgot it.
If we could just get our kids to grasp that concept. Sadly , it isn’t possible. So here we are. The best we can do is do our best to help them understand how easy it can be to make a difference. Be it a negative difference, or a positive one, our words and our actions are more powerful than any double edged sword.
What ways have you used to teach your kids the value of simply being nice? Please share your thoughts with me in the comments section.
It’s one of the hardest things I have ever done; but I swallowed hard and just did it – I prayed for her. She was causing a lot of stress in my life – and I had to deal with it daily. There was no way to get away from it. So I prayed for her. I asked God to bless her in her life; and I asked God to help me be Jesus to her. I didn’t want to – I wanted to choke her actually. But we all know that would not be the best way to handle it – so I prayed. And when I did – something really cool happened. My heart changed. I felt more compassion for her. I felt more patient and merciful towards her. God gave me the tools I needed to be the Godly woman He calls me to be. He lifted the burden of handling this all on my own.
My daughter, Ashley, was being bullied – pretty severely. She was in the 6th grade. There was this group of 3 or 4 girls that took every opportunity they could to call her names and corner her. One time she was in the school bathroom – minding her own business. This group of girls came in and cornered her. She could not get away. They begun to push her and say hurtful things to her. When she did manage to get away – she was so upset that we wound up at the police department that evening. Turns out if the girls would have moved her 5′ or more while she was cornered – we could have charged them for kidnapping. That didn’t happen of course – but it had to stop nonetheless. So we filed our report and went home.
That evening as I was tucking my daughter into bed – we started talking about prayer. I asked her if she had ever prayed for these girls. One of them in particular (we will call her Kathy) was the instigator. If she wasn’t at school – the bullying didn’t happen. So I asked her; “Ashley – have you ever thought about praying for Kathy? You should have seen the look she gave me. It was as if I had asked her if I had 5 eyes. I explained to her that Jesus tells us to pray for our enemies. (Matthew 5:44) It was a hard concept for her to grasp; And understandably so….so I prayed with her. We prayed for Kathy. We prayed for her almost every night for several months.
The school year came to an end and summer was here. She didn’t have any run ins with Kathy and her gang thankfully.
When the school year started back up – Ashley decided to join cross country. Guess who else was on the team. Yep – Kathy was on her team. We encouraged Ashley to stick with it and we made sure we kept an eye on the situation. Then something really cool happened. Ashley and Kathy began to talk. They began to run together. They got to really know each other Before we knew it – Ashley was asking if she could invite Kathy over to stay the night. While her dad and I were apprehensive, we consented. We were pleasantly surprised. Kathy turned out to be a fun girl and we enjoyed having her around.
Ashley and Kathy remain friends. They have different goals in life and do not hang out anymore. But when they pass in the hall – Ashley gets a high five instead of a low blow.
Mercy. Love. Grace. Forgiveness. Friendship. A Life Lesson. All of these and more were gained by following one simple teaching in the bible. Imagine what we could accomplish if we followed all of them.
Seriously – what’s YOUR excuse?
Because my heart over flows with love and throat closes up, I am calling out. I am calling out to my Jesus and to all of you. The words, they just hurt so much. We often take them far too lightly.
If you follow my blog, you have seen this picture of my Ashley….the most precious thing to me. She has had some really low lows in her life. Most of them typical life lessons, some of them very personal life lessons. Some of them self-inflicted, some of them not. Some of them with emotional scars, some of them with physical scars.
When Ashley was born, doctors could not explain how she survived my pregnancy. My placenta was severely malnourished, my umbilical chord was paper thin, and it was wrapped around her neck. With my very first contraction her heart rate plummeted. In a matter of literally minutes I was prepped and wheeled into surgery. When she was delivered, she was covered in stool. This was an indication that she was in distress. That alone could have suffocated her. She was a healthy 6# 2oz, 21″long baby. Her only challenge within the first week was jaundice. I remember hearing the surgeon say “I don’t know how she survived this pregnancy”. And I remember thinking to myself, I do! I know why!
Or I should say I know how, the why is in the works. I can’t wait to see what it is…..just what the Lord has in store for this amazing young lady.
I am asking you to pray with me. Not just for Ashley, but for all the teens that hurt. For all the teens that think they are alone. For the ones that feel as if no one understands. Pray with me
You created us in your image, all of us! You never intended for any of us to feel alone.
Father I pray in Jesus name that you would put people in the lives of hurting teens. People that they will listen to, and who will lift them up. Help this generation of young people to see that they are so very valued. Whatever it takes Lord, for each individual heart, you know what they need. Lead them into arms that will love them. Most of all Lord, lead them to people that will help them find you. And father because she is my child, and you have allowed me the privilege of raising her to love you and trust you, please Jesus, touch Ashley right where she is. Give her peace and wisdom. Help her make you a priority.
In Jesus precious name,