This is for you, the parents and the families. Now, of course, if you have been following me, I understand some of the information might seem repetitive. However, if you read along, perhaps this text might be useful in future interactions between you and your family.
This is also for the “Not in my backyard,” fanatics, who seem to believe this is a fact (until they see that it’s not) and they learn their lessons too late.
So to them, I say this. I have news for you.
It is in your backyard. And it’s in mine too.
This is not to be written as accusatory or point fingers in any direction. Instead, this is written as an introduction of techniques, which I have seen proven to be useful and more importantly, I have seen these techniques become not only helpful but lifesaving as well.
Before anything, I think it is important that we dispel the myths of our society, which are several. In order to improve and to cut down on the loss of young lives, or any life for that matter; I think we need to realize the commonality and similarities, which are real between us all. We are all still common in spite of our differences. We might process information differently and live differently, but we all still feel, we all live and we have a lot to learn. Rather than point out our differences, regardless to them, and regardless to special (or racial) privilege or having none whatsoever, in the end, loss of life equals loss of life. So, put simply, we need to settle this matter instead of argue more of the problems and complicate this worse.
The main initiatives in our school system plague us all. One can argue some are helped more than others; however, I offer you this. Help is most helpful at home, which is what I will be explaining shortly. We come before our schools and learning institutions. We are the roots of our children. It is more useful to realize this than trying to find fault.
I believe in removing excuses and assumptions that effect our wellness as a whole. I am not writing this to help anyone. As a matter of fact; I am writing this to challenge assumptions. I am writing this to sew discourse in our communities. I am writing this to offer a shield—and if you will forgive the bible assimilation, I come to offer you a sword, which is the information.
I have yet to meet a parent that claims to be uneducated. More often, I have met parents that believe, wholeheartedly, they know everything about their children, and that they would recognize the problems before a real problem occurred.
No parent excepts their child to be “bad” so to speak.
More often than not, I have come in contact with parents that claim, “This sort of thing would never happen in my home.”
But it does.
I hear them say, “I raised my children to be better than this,” which I agree with this and offer no argument because for the most part, no parent (or should I say, no real parent) would ever raise their child with poor values. As a rebuttal though, there are still the astounding numbers of kids dying in every community. Look at the age of our kids and see what they are doing now? Most will cringe when they learn the age of kids when they begin vaping, sexting and even entertaining the drug culture.
First, let’s talk about the drug culture. Let’s talk about the desensitization of overdoses and the normalcy or commonality in which, literally everyone knows someone that has been affected by an overdose. I have been in large classrooms and auditoriums where students watch films on the tragedies of death as a result of the so-called “Thug life,” and drug world. They have been flooded with information, which I agree, they need to know; however, where is the staying power. How do we get the meat of these lessons to stick to their ribs?
Much like the parents that say this will never happen in my home, there are students that say, “That will never happen to me!”
No one thinks this will ever happen to them. No one does!
I know I never thought I would be where I was.
Fortunately, however, I am not there anymore and I have not been there for a very long time. My goal is not to argue or compare or create a sense of romance to an already romanticized life. Instead, we need to understand why this life is attractive. Why would kids choose a reckless life?
Let’s face it. We are in the middle of an epidemic, which is attributed to 72,000 deaths last year. And here we are, pointing fingers. We are placing blame to find accountability. Either way, no matter whose fault, whether it’s me, you or Big Pharma, we still have the same epidemic. Whether this is in a black or white community; whether this is in the Latino community, or Asian, or in the middle of the country, and whether this is happening in the popular states or the small towns, rich neighborhoods or poor; there is one inescapable fact, which is there are no common faces anymore.
There is only a common problem—and rather than try and find fault or place blame; instead of pointing fingers while more people die and instead of preaching, now is the time for action.
I have news for you, 72,000 people died in 2018 from opiate deaths. However, 88,000 died from alcohol related deaths in the same year, but yet, why has this not received the same attention. Why isn’t suicide noticed as much?
Did you know that suicide is number ten in the top ten leading causes of death in our country?
By the way, alcohol and the epidemic is not even mentioned in the top ten; however, unintentional injuries list as number three. This means we need to pay attention to what happens when we live carelessly. The rest of the top ten causes are heart related, cancer related, repertory related and Alzheimer’s related—and then we have diabetes, flu, pneumonia related deaths and kidney disease.
What does this say about our focus? What are we focused on in our communities? One could argue that the topic of self-care and healthcare is blurred more than we care to admit. I say this means we need to take care of ourselves at all costs. But that’s just it, what if the cost is too high. So rather than argue over healthcare, I have one question….
Either way, where does self-care begin?
Self-care begins at home.
We need to take care of ourselves.
Now, this being mentioned, there are other initiatives that need to be noticed. We have kids vaping, and sexting, and underage drinking. We have drug use that ranges from simple recreational use to a more deliberate and dangerous proportions.
We have bullying, which has always been a problem. Only, now we have cyber-bullying, which is literally everywhere and any child can be globally humiliated in less than a second. All it takes now is a press of a button and slander becomes viral in a heartbeat.
It is important to mention anxiety here and depression. It is important to mention our scales of value and our emotional state. It is important to recognize that if parents do not take care of themselves, their children will follow along and do as they see. Self-care must be our top priority if we are looking to help our children. Of course, I have heard arguments on this. “I take care of myself,” is what I have been told. I was told this by a mother whose son was found unresponsive after taking too many of his mother’s pills.
The boy’s response: If it worked for her, why wouldn’t it work for me?
Mom had an issue with her depression and anxiety. She was medicated; however, perhaps her misuse or overuse showed a clear sign to her young teenage boy.
But who is to say?
I have come to either bridge the gap or separate it further. Whether or not this is received well or received at all, I am submitting this text for a reason.
More often than not, as kids, we used to hear our parents say, “You’re just a kid. You’re too young to understand,” or we heard, “You’re too young to know any better.”
Now, when we were kids, of course, we hated to hear this. This didn’t acknowledge us. Instead, this put us down. This degraded us. True or not, we still had thoughts and feelings that went without validation. I know I did. I know what my response was when people told me I was too young to understand. “You’re too old to know where I come from.”
I would say, “You’re too old to understand. . . . It’s been a long time since you were my age and things have changed since then.”
And I meant this too. As I saw it, no one cared to understand. Instead, people like to dictate facts. No one actively or empathetically listened.
Rather than point out our differences when discussing behavioral or substance and medicinal problems. It would be more helpful to find our likeness.
Relate instead of compare. Understand instead of dictate.
Believe me, this has proven to be successful!
I am preparing a course for parents and family members that will help them at home. Instead of nurturing and recognizing symptoms, we will create a plan and a strategy to attack problems at their root.
We need to solidify both the weakest and the strongest relationships because both weak and strong relationships have been rocked by tragedies and the loss of life. And make no mistake; there is nothing more unnatural than a parent burying their child, which is why I am partnering up with a few certified educators to create a new line of defense.
We need to outline our identities and understand our cultures and subcultures. We need to bridge the gap and understand more about the subconscious programs we learn as well as our personal and social biases.
We need to dispel the myths and challenge our inaccurate assumptions. We need to dismantle the attitudes and disarm the arguments. Otherwise, all we will do is just look to find who is to blame.
But to what avail?
We need to learn strategies and create logical plans and create “Positive detachment,” so we can hear our children instead of just listen. We need to learn “Encouraged acknowledgement” when they speak so that they will speak more instead of say less. More commonly, I see parents take their children’s behavior on as a personal attack on them and their parenting abilities. There is no need for an attack. This is not an accusation. This is an aim for our kids to have a better life.
Of all things I would like parents to understand is this: it is okay to have and seek help. This does not make you a villain or a horrible person or weak or uneducated. No, quite oppositely, this means you love your child enough to not only care for yourself to the best of your ability—but as well, you love them enough to have them be their best by any means necessary.
Ego has no place here.
A parent once told me, “I know everything about my daughter.”
The Mom told me, “My daughter tells me everything,” and she did tell her mother everything.
She told her everything Mom wanted to hear.
I know this because I had to help with her daughter’s navigation of care from one rehab and then placing her into another until the daughter ran away (again).
Mom argued she never raised her daughter to be this way. Of course she didn’t. No Mom raised their daughter to be homeless, or worse, no Mom encourages their child into prostitution.
But it happens.
Even in wealthy families like this one was, this happens.
This is why I am developing my program. It is not for the wealthy or the poor or the white or the black. No, this is to bridge the gap between us all. This is to find our commonality so that maybe, just maybe, the number of lives we lose can go down instead of up.
We need to improve our cognitive behavioral skills. Not just our kids, but all of us. We need to alter our communication and learn to remove the threats of our role as parents.
“Tell me the truth and you won’t get in trouble.”
“Okay, I did it.”
“Dammit, now you’re in trouble!”
We also need to listen to the unsaid things, which we think we hear, but in actuality, we don’t. We need to understand our resources. We need to learn active and empathetic listening. We have to make connections and level the playing field and put simply, we have to learn to meet our children not only halfway, but we need to meet them where they’re at. Otherwise, we run the risk of losing them more.
I have met parents that earn their living as therapists, which means they do this for a living, and yet still, addiction found its way into their homes. This is why we need to learn how to communicate, bridge the gap and create a plan towards better family wellness.
We are building this program now. This is being built by people on the front lines of the epidemic and the main problems that plague all of our communities. This program will be designed to educate parents and families, and perhaps teachers and learning facilities as well.
Who knows what will happen, but I do know this:
The child you save may be your own.
Oh, and don’t worry. I promise to keep you posted!