The Greatest Gift of All

Another variant, another winter lockdown?  Here’s hoping the virologists tell us that Omicron is not as lethal, transmissible or vaccine-resistant as our current fears would have it.

We may be exhausted by the constant stream calamitous events we learn about in daily news, but imagine the impact of this information on young people.  Those born since 9/11 have faced a threatening world filled with terrorists, wars, school shootings, newly discovered graves filled with young Indigenous children, a persistent pandemic and environmental disasters that threaten our very existence.  Instead of learning about these challenges on the evening news, our young people are exposed to them on social media, 24/7.  One twenty-year old suggested to a reporter than he has grown up in a world where disasters occur every twenty minutes.  It’s disheartening and often overwhelming.  How can we offer hope to young people in this kind of world?

The best gift we can give our youth are words of encouragement and empowerment, but we had better be genuine when we try it.  Children can sniff out a fake.  Many years ago I took a parenting course and one of the key takeaways from it was when you offer a compliment to your child, make it specific.  Instead of, “that’s a lovely picture you’ve made”, try identifying something specific in the picture, “I love the way you’ve drawn the sun in this drawing.”  Be real with them if you expect the same in return.

Another source of influence is streamed and traditional television programs.  If possible, watch a few of these shows with your children to better understand their impact.  The range of messages is astounding, and there are shows that build confidence and compassion and others that just don’t.  It’s not always obvious which shows are delivering which message.  There are many sites that can help navigate the vast selection available to find ones with messages you would encourage your children to receive.

Our granddaughter will find a book under the tree entitled “I Am One”, which will tell her that even young children can make an impact.  It says that making a difference starts with one: one word; one seed; one candle.  It encourages action, and is dedicated to Greta Thunberg, who has shown all of us the power of one.  It’s a hopeful and realistic message.

We will be depending on our youth to lead the way, sooner than we may care to admit.  Our job is to help them get ready and offer role models to encourage them. Sounds like a few New Year’s resolutions are in order.  Happy Holidays, KG

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