Breaking Hearts, Broken Children

The shootings here in the Springs, and then yesterday again, in a Virginia Walmart…So many families and communities torn open, devastated because of insanity with a gun in hand.

The guns are a problem, but insanity is the bigger one. Sane people can manage their guns with safety and good sense. The biggest problem here is how easily the insane can acquire guns, can walk around with them unchallenged in many states. Could it be we need to address the insanity that is a product of a terribly dysfunctional society, even more than the prevalence of guns?

How would we even begin?

Honestly, I think we have begun already. Parenting is changing to more wholesome models in many places, and that’s the first step. So many of the people I know who are having kids in these past several years are bringing new awareness to the emotional needs of children, the developmental stages, the ways kids perceive and collect knowledge, learn empathy and understanding. It’s nothing like 100%, and never will be. Maybe it’s more like 20%. But in the ways of societal change, that’s a great start!

Traditions of punishment and belittlement will hang on a long time, because so many generations have deep roots in that model of childhood–that children are essentially bad; that children are blank slates to be written over by authority’s plans and desires; that children are worth nothing in themselves and are no more autonomous than barnyard animals or other chattels.

The other end of that spectrum, of course, is that children are special to the point of being royalty, and accorded the privileges of princes and tyrants. 

As I see it, children are born savage in terms of society’s needs and expectations. Raising them is all about teaching them the benefits of civility.

Children come as whole people into the world, nothing like a blank slate, and they need to be understood as such, respected for their own personalities that they exhibit from as early as the hour of their birth. They are for a time their parents’ responsibilities, but not their possessions. 

They need to learn that their choices lead to consequences, very often unforeseen and startling and even sometimes very unpleasant. Kids need to learn how to foresee, how to manage consequences through their choosing strategies: to control impulse and emotional reacting. 

Of that supposed 20%, well-parented children will become better parents to their own children, and the of unbroken children will rise. That’s how societies evolve, by generations rather than by terms of office, or by laws coming and going. It’s how society grows from its own infancy through the tumult of adolescence to finally achieving maturity. 

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