Amy Mortenson of the Chicago Tribune advice column “Ask Amy” recently responded with such wisdom to a grandmother asking about whether she should “say something” to her granddaughter about her obvious “shortcomings” that I felt it worth printing.
Amy said “Your role is to be your granddaughter’s tenderhearted buddy and champion. You should not take it upon yourself to “improve” her. I assure you, even at the tender age of 10, the world is already telling her all that’s ‘wrong” with her. Can you love her abundantly exactly as she is? Can you celebrate her brains and her talent and overlook the extra pounds and the sloppy T-shirts? By all means, assist these parents with ideas and advice if they ask. For this child, her relationship with you should be a refuge, not more of the same.
In light of recent tragic deaths in school shootings, this quote from Fred (Mr) Rogers has been circulated. He said “Whenever the news events were tragic or scary, my Mother taught me to look for the helpers…those taking care of others, even risking their lives for others”.
We can be a refuge for children, we can help them to be more hopeful and optimistic, or we can impose our own anxiety and fear on them. It can be a full time job…keeping the media images, music lyrics, online content suitable for them, but no one else is stepping forward, and young people are growing up despondent and violently acting out in order to get someone to notice them.