This past July parents, mentors, and caring adults met in the city of Baltimore for a community town hall to discuss ways to parent in a violent world. This was a much-needed conversation at such a critical moment in time. Panelists and community partners discussed the need for parents to filter a lot of the negative imagery and lifestyles that have been easily able to influence the impressionable mind of youth. This led to a deeper discussion about the need for accountability from parents to their children, with the notion that we have to be their parent and not their friend.
As the dialogue continued, deeper discussions and heartfelt stories filled the room. The town hall delved deeply into some underlying issues of mental health, emotional trauma, unemployment, and housing instability in families across America. While it was a tough pill to swallow, it was the gateway to lay burdens down and open up the door for healing. It was chance to see how learned behaviors such as abuse, neglect, and violence could linger in the mind of our children long after their experiences. Even though we ended the town hall off on a high note, it was clear to all attendees that this conversation needs to happen across every city in America.
As I made my way back to Chicago this town hall made one thing perfectly clear; that all communities have to practice being better examples of love, compassion, and peace in order to combat negative and violent messages received by children. Many times, it is easy for us to say how much we love people and how well we want to see them do, but sometimes we don’t step up to the plate when loving correction is needed. It is imperative that certain actions and behaviors not be tolerated as it relates to parenting, mentoring, and advocacy for our youth. While it might seem hard, we have to be bold in our approach to being accountable well before problems arise.
One important issue that stuck out to me during the town hall was seemingly a lack of accountability among some parents. If it takes a village to raise a child then we must be able to stand in the gap. Standing in the gap has many faces. For some it can be correcting foul language when they hear it. For others it might take the time out to explain to a young man that putting his hands on a woman is wrong, and even though he saw it done in his past, this does not mean that he has to continue the violent behavior. Parenting in a violent world requires us to get out of our comfort zone and putting action behind our beliefs and words.
No matter what your accountability efforts look like, just do it out of love. When you can function with a genuine heart to our youth and other parents, healing can take place. Think about it, if we are the change that we have been waiting to see, then surely people can be a reflection of what we give off to them. There is a lot of work to be done when parenting in a violent world, but the first and most important component is to be the love that combats the negative images and ideas that lead to issues in our communities or even our own homes.
Richard Taylor is the author of two best-selling books: Unashamed: The Process of Reconstruction & Between The Dream. A nationally renowned speaker & mentor, he works to help others see the value of their life through the transparency of his own story of overcoming depression, suicide, abuse & obesity.