By Cynthia Martin
It is easy to say that your children are grown and you are done with raising children. Actually, we all continue to raise children — all the children we come in contact with. Parents aren’t the only ones who have an impact on children.
It is easy to watch your neighbor struggle with raising her children and ignore the ways you might be able to help her. Even with your own grandchildren or nieces and neph-ews you might be able to help. You can make an impact if you reach out; you will be able to tell very quickly if you are helping or if you are interfering. Test it. Even without helping or with doing nothing, you are sending messages about raising children. Raising children is everyone’s responsibility whether they want it or not.
Sometimes the most help you can give others is just to listen. Having a friendly ear hear of your struggles really can be an asset.
When children of any age feel that people don’t like them, they stay away from them. Just a smile or a wave to the teen down the street or a friendly comment to the child whose ball went into your yard by mistake can send a message to young people that we don’t think they are all bad.
If we want our children to grow up with a healthy view of society, it begins with being friendly with the children in our neighborhood, even our own children. It is letting young people know that we value them.
It is complimenting them for things they do well. It is looking for the positives in young people. It is setting the stage for young people to strive to do what is right.
Think about ways you can convey to young people that you value them. One quick way is to ask for help on your computer. What is complex for you is something a young person has grown up with and it probably is easy for him to do. If you need some help, ask what he would charge to clean your carpet or mow your lawn. Even just with you asking for the help says you think it is something he can do and that is a compliment.
Ask yourself some important questions. Do you know the names of the children in your neighborhood? Do you ever talk with any of them? Do you smile or say hello to them? Do you approve of their behavior? Can you do something to improve your relationship with these young people? These are some good resolutions to begin this new year on a very positive note.
Cynthia Martin is the founder of the First Teacher program and now director of Parenting Matters Foundation. The foundation publishes newsletters for parents, caregivers and grandparents. Reach Martin at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 681-2250.