Another mass murder in a church. Another terrorist running over and killing innocent people riding bikes in New York. Another cowardly taking of lives at a concert.
What is the answer? Is there an answer? Listening to politicians address these issues we pretty much get the same rhetoric we’ve heard over the past several years. If you listen carefully what you will hear when political leaders are asked what “to do” about the problem, they will just continue to talk about the problem and then pivot to say the same things we’ve heard over and over again: “we’ve got to do a better job of background checks”, “be more vigilant to pay attention”, “if you see something say something”, etc.
With this kind of direction and advice there’s really not a lot we can do, in the short-term, to completely end this sad madness. But in the long-run, I do believe to get at the root of these problems, communities should not be looking to government or law enforcement for prevention answers. I believe the best long-term strategy we should look to is parent leadership in the home of every American family.
No one is born a racist, a terrorist, a gang member, a drug addict, or perpetrator of violence. These are all learned behaviors. Are they not? Over and over again when we look into the backgrounds of most (if not all) of those who commit such horrendous, outrageous violence – we find something missing, something gone wrong in the home. Whether it be abuse, neglect, ideology, or some other form of extreme teaching or treatment of a child by adults with a world view and/or habits far outside what most decent people would call “the norm.”
In her book, “How Children become Violent – Keeping your Kids out of Gangs, Terrorist Organizations, and Cults”, Author Katherine Seifert, Phd. says:
Over the last three decades as a criminal justice and psychotherapist professional, I saw countless patients with either severe mental illnesses or histories of grotesquely violent behavior. As I asked them questions and delved into their pasts, it became clear that many, if not all, had experienced some level of childhood trauma in the form of neglectful, painful or violent upbringings…could there be some link between childhood trauma, Gang Prevention and Schools and the inability to lead normal, productive lives and have empathy for others?…the majority…had histories of childhood abuse, neglect, traumatic loss of parents without sufficient substitute caregivers…
I don’t mean to be harsh. Just straight forward. Why? Because I believe complex problems need concrete answers even when the answers are not pleasant, challenging, and often not very comforting. These tragic situations are happening on almost a weekly basis. These issues are affecting how we live our daily lives. These problems are growing and have become front and center in our consciousness. These are times when leadership is vital if we are to maintain and sustain our life as a free and open society.
“These are hard times in which a genius would wish to live. Great necessities call forth great leaders.” – Abigail Adams, 1790, in a letter to Thomas Jefferson
I admit these are difficult issues to solve and there is no one solution.Nevertheless, we can’t just sit around and complain and expect or wait for “the government” to fix these problems. Again, if the “powers that be” had the solution they would have solved these issues already. It is quite clear to me that those in civic authority lack the leadership, relevance, and compassion to effectively deal with the reality we are faced with on the local grounds of our communities where almost NO PLACE can be considered safe or off limits to these acts of terrorism and violence.
My role and goal over the past decade has been to empower parents. Not to blame parents, but to NAME parents as the number one asset in the community. I contend that parents are the MOST important person in the community. Not the police, pastor, principal, priest, probation officer, or politician. In order to have safe communities we don’t need more pools, parks, playgrounds, programs or prisons. We don’t need more youth jobs, youth mentors, youth leagues, and youth focus. If any of the above were “the answer” we would have solved these problems a long time ago because we’ve been doing MORE of all of the above for decades and yet these tragedies still continue to rob us of our sense of security.
My focus here is on what we CAN do to help communities with a sense of hope, direction and empowerment. We will not solve these problems overnight. There are no “quick-fix” solutions. However, neither are we powerless to act and enter the battle for our sanity, safety and security.
The following principles are what I suggest in our “Parents on a Mission” training as one piece of the puzzle–or answer as it were–of doable, achievable, long-term practices that will work to re-set a more positive and safe community of future generations for our children and grandchildren:
1. Parent programs that focus their techniques on fixing children won’t have long-term results because they focus on the rebellious behavior of kids rather than on the dysfunctional, immature behavior of parents behind closed doors.
2. Communities should put more resources in developing parent mentor programs – not only youth mentor programs.
3. We need to take our focus off of the problems rebellious youth/people create and focus on the problems that create rebellious/violent youth/people.
4. It does NOT take a Village to raise a child. It just takes good parenting. Parents should not expect “the village” to take responsibility for raising their children to be good citizens.
5. Safe communities are NOT the result of more police on the streets, but a result of more parents on a mission exercising the proper use of authority and discipline in their home.
6. Youth are NOT the future. Expecting youth to have a positive future without the proper parental leadership is like expecting flowers to grow to full beauty on their own without care, cultivation and nurturing.
7. Programs CANNOT replace parents. We are grateful for and acknowledge all the efforts being made by schools, community based organizations, churches, and the like. But nothing can replace the consistent unconditional love, affection, discipline and life coaching of parents–whether single, divorced, blended, grandparents, or any other family unit children grow up in.
8. Happy, healthy, well balanced citizens of the community come from happy, healthy, well balanced homes where parent leadership is the driving force. And we should not assume that all parents understand or know how to “be” such a leader.
9. Emotional maturity is the key to responsible parent leadership. Parents on a Mission focuses on coaching parents to grow-up. We don’t need any help growing old…that is automatic…growing up is not.
One last thing…remember: The First Family is not in the White House, its in YOUR HOUSE!