Dear Parents, Wake Up!

  Today I am angry. Angry because I feel like parents are letting their kids down and have little care or concern about it. When really they should be angry too, and then they should do something to change it. You see, life really threw us a curve last May when our oldest daughter went into sudden liver failure. Within the month of May she became ill, hospitalized, air lifted, and transplanted. There wasn’t time to understand what was happening. But my husband and I did everything we could to keep our cool, explain what we could to the hundreds of questions coming our way, and make sure the end of the school year was still a good one for our other two children.

  Through it all we were hurting. We prayed. We thanked our well wishers and did our best to put on a brave face for our dying 8 year old daughter. We were blessed at the end of that long month by another families selfless choice to donate their 6 year old daughter’s organs. They saved our daughter and our entire family will forever be thankful. We still struggle, the immunosuppressants she must take for the rest of her life are expensive, she isn’t able to eat for two hours twice a day at pill time. She is experiencing headaches, hair loss and cannot attend school full time during the flu season, which here in Oregon is a good chunk of the school year. But still we do what we can to keep life as normal as possible. Most of all we are thankful to still have her here to love and enjoy everyday.

The blessings came pouring in. We had members of our church, family and friends reach out to us, donating to a special account to help pay the the exorbitant medical costs, or by putting cash in our private account so we could eat, while we were fourteen hours away from home. A local high school did a fundraising campaign and donated $5,000 to help us catch up on the medical bills. Every time we turned around we were being offered help and love. She was even granted a wish by the Make A Wish Foundation in which we all spent six days in New York enjoying everything New York.

We have done our best to return that kindness as we can. For our daughter’s 9th birthday she decided to throw a party to collect toys for the local children’s hospital. Her face was beaming when she delivered over 70 presents last January. A few months ago a young boy was in the same hospital and ended up staying for much longer than expected. Our kids decided to gather up some treats and toys and took them up for the little guy to enjoy as he recuperated. We are proud of our kids and everything all three have had to deal with and how they are becoming caring, loving children.

So why am I angry? I’m angry because when someone is going through extreme situations and experiencing roller-coaster emotions and another person comes into the picture and makes empty promises it hurts. When parents don’t put their children first it hurts. When mankind forgets that golden rule it hurts, and all that hurt leads to anger. Anger can lead to anything.

My anger is parent centered. I watch families at our school drop their kids off in the morning and pick them up at the end of the day, never stepping foot into the classroom the entire year, but they are the first to complain when something doesn’t happen for their kid. I see them on social media bashing the school and teachers. I hear the gossip and it really hurts. I see kids show up unbathed for days in the same clothing they wore the day before. There are children eating off a special lunch card a group provides so that any student in need can have a hot lunch, because their parents for whatever reason don’t make sure they have one or don’t fill out the free lunch paperwork. The card is a secret resource so kids don’t have to be shamed with the “free lunch option”. Their parents never call and ask who is paying for their child’s food. They never send a check in to replace what their child has charged on it, they just ignore the gift and assume it will be there tomorrow.

Just as I was entering the school yesterday a young spunky Kindergartner with a huge smile was being taken away by social workers. That child’s life changed yesterday. I go to kids sporting events and I see half of the crowd with their smartphones out. Some are taking pictures, but others are ignoring the game and selfishly reading or scrolling through social media. At the end of the game there are always kids standing and waiting long after the crowd is gone because their parents didn’t feel like watching the game. It all makes me want to yell and scream “Wake up!”

All of this bad stuff that is happening with our young adults, the deaths, the struggle with mental illness, suicide. It has increased all while parent involvement has seemingly decreased. And by parent involvement I mean active involvement. I challenge you right now to ask yourself three questions, What did my kid eat for lunch yesterday? Who is their best friend? When did I last tell them I loved them? If you can’t answer these three simple questions then take today to fix that. Put your life on hold for ten minutes or an hour or a whole day and take the time to be with your child. Play catch, bake cookies, go for a walk. If you have multiple children set up date nights with each one, leave your phone in your pocket and give your child your undivided attention. I promise it will be worth it. You don’t have to do anything costly, it could be a picnic in the park, a coupon meal, or driving down to a favorite high school hangout to share memories from your youth.

  Don’t take for granted what could be gone in an instant. Don’t leave opportunity for regret later on. Volunteering even once a month makes a difference. Having an uninterrupted conversation with your child will make a difference. Doing your best makes a difference. Taking responsibility for the life you helped create makes a difference. Tonight when your head finally hits the pillow ask yourself did I do my best to put my kid first today? If the answer isn’t an immediate yes get angry, then try harder tomorrow. Do everything you can to make your child’s life full of love. Model by example and be kind and considerate, put others first and give your time selflessly to your family. I bet if you do this life will get better, your bond with your child will get stronger and he or she will grow to be more amazing than you ever expected. If you can do this I promise the world will be a little less angry.

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