Children and the Safe Place

I just watched the movie Lifted, starring a young man named Uriah Shelton and Ruben Studdard (yes the winner of American Idol).  The movie is about a young boy named Henry whose father is a Marine, and whose mother is recovering drug addict.  The story chronicles a period of about 1 year.  Henry’s dad is deployed to Afghanistan and Henry has a very hard time handling the transition.  He also saw changes while he was gone that challenged is sense of “home.”  What makes this story even more interesting is Henry is an incredibly talented singer.  He and his dad had a bond over their love of music.  This is a must watch movie, so I will not spoil the plot for you.

The movie leaves me thinking about children, their safe place, and their parents’ role in creating that place.  I also watched a segment of 20/20 tonight.  It was about troubled teens.  These teenagers struggle with everything from drugs, suicide attempts, rejection, and a host of other issues.  There are over 2 million teenagers who are independently homeless throughout the United States.  Many of them end up in some of the worst situations.   The common theme between the teens who were interviewed was the need to have a home.  Not so much just the physical home, but a safe environment where they can be secure.  The reasonable parent thinks about this from the moment they conceive or bring their child home for the first time.  I cannot begin to understand the parents who decide not to keep or look for their runaway children, and I will not assume they are bad people, because I do not know the specific circumstances surrounding their choices.  Both the movie and 20/20 gave me pause to think about the type of environment I have created for my own children.

I am not the most organized, health-conscious, or perfect mom in the world.  I leave a whole lot to be desired in the parenting department.  I do however think about my children at each stage they are at.  My husband and I agree wholeheartedly about making sure our children are children first.  This is always a juggle because you want to teach them responsibility along the way, without making them adults too quickly (as both of us were).  It also means we have to be the safe place they can come to.  Raw rejection should not come from their home.

I have thought about what will happen if my son or daughter had certain inner issues, from self-esteem, sexuality, and faith.  My children are both young, so these issues are not something I have to worry about yet.   I know my personal position on each of these things, but as a parent who wants stable children, I have to also consider their position may not jell with mine.  I have to be mindful that they may struggle with feelings that I have to help them work through, without making them feel inadequate.  Already, my 5 year-old and I are at odds about clothing, hair and toys.  I expect our feud to flow right into middle school, and high school, just like mine and my mother’s did.  What do intend to do is be a sounding board for my children.  I would never want either of them to think running away is the answer to solving a problem.  It would kill me to imagine my children sleeping in a tree or with strangers just because they did not feel physically or emotionally safe at home.  I know I will not always be the “go to” person, but as long as they know push come to shove I am there, that is alright with me.

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