''This is another wake-up call. If you don't wake up now, it's going to get worse and worse. We are in trouble; we are in trouble. God is trying to get us to understand that we're in trouble. We're in trouble as a country, we are in trouble as a city, and we're in trouble in our neighborhoods. Our families are in trouble because they are under attack, and God is trying to tell us that it is time for us to get our act together. We are in trouble because of the breakdown of the family. We are in trouble because we've stopped parenting our children. We're in trouble because we're busy trying to be our children's friends and not their parents . . . We're in trouble because we stopped coming to church, we stopped bringing our children to church.''
These are the words of Elder Phillip W. Shealey, pastor of the Greater Apostolic Church at the funeral of 15-year-old Daylan T. Ray, one of the six young people killed in the March 10 crash. And I say, ''Amen, Elder Shealey!''
This tragedy should be a wake-up call to all of us who are parents. The events in Steubenville should also be a wake-up call to us as parents. What values are we instilling in our children if they think that the behavior exhibited by the students in that case is acceptable?
Another lesser-known, recent case involved an adult man who was convicted of having sex with an under-aged girl. The girl in this case was 13, and the man was 21 when the incident occurred. When reading this story, the reaction of the man's mother stood out to me. She was adamant that this was not her son's fault - asking if men should have to check IDs. I have a feeling that this mom has excused everything her son has ever done through the years. This is not parenting. It is enabling.
We as parents need to understand that parenthood is an important responsibility, and it isn't just about providing food and shelter to our children until they turn 18. In Elder Healy's quote he said that we are in trouble as a country, a city and in our neighborhoods. We are in trouble in all these places because our families are in trouble, and our families are in trouble for exactly the reason Elder Healey stated. Somewhere along the way it's become acceptable for parents to not parent.
I know that parenting is tough. I struggle every day with being the parent I should be to my teenage son, but I know that I have to resist the urge to give him everything, to try to be his friend, to loosen the reigns too much. In my case, it has become more difficult because my husband has Parkinson's. I am not only bearing more of the burden, but also have to fight the temptation to become more lenient because I feel sorry for my son as he deals with my husband's illness. I realize, though, especially in the aftermath of these recent events, that in the long run, being indulgent is not the best path.
Elder Healey talked about going to church and bringing our children to church. He's right about that as well. Not only can giving our children a faith-based upbringing help to give them a moral compass, I've experienced first-hand the support that a church can give to those families who face extra struggles. One thing, though, about church involvement is that we can't expect the church to put values in our children that we don't live out at home. The church should just reinforce what we're already teaching our children.
We also need to reach out to those children whose parents can't or won't do the job of parenting. We need to try to help them find their way in this world. The behavior of the Chardon shooter at his sentencing was both infuriating and sad. While I think that he has to take responsibility for his actions, I know that this young man was pretty much abandoned by his parents early on. I have to wonder if someone had reached out to him long ago, if this tragedy could have been prevented.
My son gave me a lesson in this a few years ago. My son raises turkeys and participates in 4H at the Geauga Fair. One year at the fair, we met a little boy who also raised turkeys. He was a bit younger than my son, and he attached himself to us, following us around. He was a sunny little guy, but I honestly thought he was a bit of a nuisance. My son, on the other hand, thought he was a nice little kid and didn't seem to mind the intrusion.
At some point late in the fair, I had a conversation with the woman the little boy called Grandma who told me his story. His father thought he was his own personal punching bag; and had, among other things, ruptured this little guy's spleen. My son had seen what I was too busy and self absorbed to see: a young man who just needed some kindness and attention. I am still ashamed of my attitude, but it taught me a lesson that I won't forget.
We all need to realize that children require our love, attention, nurture and discipline. We can succeed in every other area of our lives; but if we fail our children, we fail miserably.
Yoder is a West Farmington resident. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org