Endangered Childhood: Growing Up Shouldn't be Dangerous!

by Cyndi Paxton Johnson

broken bike by ~droplet86I can't turn around without finding yet another example of endangered childhood - online or in my own community. It's reaching epidemic proportions - and I'm terrified of what will become of these once innocent children. I've been insulated by the homeschooling community and the parenting blogs that were my lifeline - though they made me feel like a bad mom for not buying natural peanut butter and not getting my brood to eat sprouts. But my gang's finishing their first year in public school (and loving it), and I've gotten to know a lot of kids who have more to deal with than JIF peanut butter. 

There's the teenage boy who was kept confined in his sparse bedroom and allowed to do nothing outside of watching his spoiled little sister. Or the sisters who are tossed between homes like a volleyball, occasionally landing back with their abusive mother. Or the girl who witnessed a fatal shooting in her home - by her father. 

Childhood shouldn't be this traumatic.

On a positive note - I am so impressed by these children. By their resiliency, by their courage, by their spirit. I worry about them, though. They cannot be unaffected by their circumstances. I feel helpless - my verbal support and encouragement doesn't accomplish much compared to their daily reality. Once, when I was worried that some texts to my daughter seemed suicidal, I contacted the school's guidance counselor to make sure he talked to the child. But it never feels like enough.

There has been an unexpected benefit to having my kids exposed to "real life". They really do seem to appreciate me more. They still get mad at me - let's not be crazy - but once they've calmed down they realize I'm not "Mommy Dearest".

Last week I pulled into a parking space and turned off the car just in time to hear the woman next to me scream, "I'm gonna bust your ass!" to her unfortunate progeny. As we walked into the store I put an arm around both of my tall, beautiful daughters and pulled them close to me. I kissed each head then asked, laughingly, "So....how do you like me NOW?"

Turns out....they DO!

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