The above quote was sent to me in a text from my young teenage son. This is where his head was as he rode the bus home from school. What’s it like for a mother to read something like this from their child? It’s heartbreaking, bordering on devastating.
I have been trying to explain to my own father for a long time how today’s world is impacting our youth. I tell him that they are feeling disillusioned and scared. They are angry at the “adults” who have overlooked their futures and are dismissing their current day concerns. Parents are afraid too, and they often deal with this problem by trying to act like everything is okay or that everything will be okay. Denial. Out of sight out of mind. I understand that they want to protect their kids. They want to keep the external peace as long as they can. But in the midst of this, know that the inner turmoil of your children rages on.
I am far from a perfect parent. Far. Far. Far. However, I try to be as humble as possible, and to adjust my sails when I see that I am heading down the wrong course. I grew up in a very traditional home where you didn’t argue or disagree with the “adults”. As a result I felt unheard, disregarded, and unimportant. That caused a lot of angst and rebellion from me as I desperately tried to be seen. But, I learned from my experiences and decided that when I had kids I would do it differently.
It’s not that my parents didn’t love me. They did. They do…very, very much. However, they were the products of their own upbringings. They were strict, afraid, and Catholic. They held a tight reign. My choice has been to raise my children along side of me. This started with the decision to have a family bed when they were babies. They have been raised to believe that they are an intrinsic part of this family. Their thoughts and dreams matter to me. They may have flowed through me, but I know that they do not belong to me. It is my “duty” here on this earth to make sure that I guide them to adulthood with honesty and as much love as possible.
The world has taken a turn for the worse in the last few years. My children are no longer babes, they are young adults with BIG ideas and passions. They are watching the world become more unstable and chaotic. They don’t trust our leaders and they are pissed that the “adults” in the room cannot get it together. The Earth is not-so-slowly dying and people’s lives are being turned upside down as a result. What will become of our world they ask? I was certainly not prepared by my parents for this future that we have arrived at. Why didn’t they understand that by polluting the earth at every turn we would be killing it? Who knew that there would be an expiration date in our lifetime?
I listen to the conversations of the kids who roam in and out of my home on the daily. I hear things like, “I am never having children.” Or “The end of the world is upon us so what is the point with school?” And, “Why should we try when it’s already too late?” How does one effectively parent in today’s world? I have no idea. I just try to listen. I allow them to emote and express themselves verbally. I am not going to lie and say it’s easy because it isn’t. It’s exhausting work trying to appear like you’ve got it together, day in and day out for your kids. They are not the only ones feeling cheated. I really want to be a grandmother one day.
I know that it’s not always easy when you’re a kid to see the big picture. It’s not always easy as an adult, but I believe it is our “duty” as parents to guide our children the best we can until they are capable of seeing it for themselves. The days are coming at us faster and harder. And I am not here to give answers. I am attempting to let others know that this is how things are right now. This is a window into our youth at the moment, and the world needs to be aware of it. There are children growing up all around the world in much more dire situations than my own. Where war is the norm what does the future look like?
The looming question that I try to answer daily is how do we instill a sense of hope and calm in our children while living in the midst of what feels like a cyclone? I want to help them see that peace is within reach, it is within them, at the very center of the storm. I remind them that while this world is seemingly unstable, they are not of this world. They are destined for far better things. I want them to understand that right here and now is of the utmost importance. That having HOPE in the midst of dire circumstances is possible. At the moment they don’t understand how I am continually looking for silver linings, because they have a hard time seeing them. I tell them that gratitude allows for a special type of endurance. When they fully can understand that they are divine beings having a human experience they will know that their time here is means to have a greater purpose. That they are here to help others understand that we are so much more than we appear to be on the surface. That time is not linear, and that our spirits will continue no matter what shall befall us.
I don’t have all the answers and to be honest, I am really scared myself. I have days that are riddled with anxiety and then depression as a result of my overbearing dread at the state of current affairs. It’s hard to watch the suffering of this world rolling by on its 24/7 media loop. So, when my child tells me that it’s hard growing up in a world that is coming to an end, I will always take a deep breath and listen. I won’t try to solve unsolvable problems. I will just listen to them, love them unconditionally, and hope for the best.