By KRISTINA MCGOVERN, Special to the Bulletin | Published December 9, 2022
My dad used to tell me, “Children are resilient.” I always wanted to believe him, but could never forget the sinking feeling that when something bad happens to children, it affects them during their formative years and remains with them for life.
Knowing that, I feel especially convicted to try to protect, encourage and support any and all children. I can show even the smallest amount of love and respect to a child that may not have ever received it. This is where we plant the seeds that Christ will sow.
I read the book “It Takes a Village” by Jane Cowen-Fletcher in elementary school. I didn’t think twice about how important it was until I became an adult and had kids of my own. The moral of the story was that it should be everyone’s responsibility to help raise the next generation.
“Parents have the first responsibility for the education of their children” (CCC 2223). Whether they take this responsibility seriously depends on the disposition of the parent. Parents are supposed to teach their children the things that aren’t necessarily taught in school, such as faith, the difference between right and wrong and being polite, respectful and honest. What happens if a parent does not teach these things? Or worse—what happens if a parent is doing the opposite of these things?
We want children to learn from our mistakes, not replicate them. But how do they know what behavior is good to imitate and what is not, if they are constantly exposed to bad behavior and not exposed to and shrouded in the good? How do they know the difference between right and wrong if they are not taught? And more importantly, who is going to teach them, if their parents don’t?
Being the village that is raising the next generation means that we all have to look out for other people’s kids. I know; sometimes it’s hard just to look after our own kids (I have six) or manage our own responsibilities. How can I possibly expect you to take on the rest of the world? But we won’t be doing it alone.
Everyone in the village can be more involved with the younger members by simply smiling, saying something, pushing a swing on the playground, calling someone else to help or becoming more involved in a child’s life. Each situation may call for only one of these or all of the above.
Being the village that is raising the next generation also means that we have to be good examples. We cannot say one thing and do another. We have to “walk the walk and talk the talk.” We have to apologize to children when we do something wrong so children see what they are supposed to do. We should also use edifying language, because children are like parrots.
When I play volleyball in recreational adult leagues, sometimes I bring my kids with me. It is in the presence of children that adults start apologizing for their language and are more careful with what they say. What if adults trained themselves to improve their language by acting like kids are present all the time?
‘Being the village’ means not being afraid to help other people’s children. It means we are all working toward the same goal. It starts inside yourself with having courage and setting the example. Let us all be the village by creating an atmosphere that everyone wants to live in and is safe and nurturing. If we can’t save the world, let’s adequately prepare the ones who will.
The Young Adult Angle of The Georgia Bulletin features news by and for young adults. It appears quarterly in the print edition.