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Good parenting is more challenging – and more necessary – than ever

James Crumbley and Jennifer Crumbley, the parents of Ethan Crumbley, a teen accused of killing four students in a shooting at Oxford High School. They have pleaded not guilty to involuntary manslaughter charges. (Photograph from Oakland County Sheriff's Office via AP)

There is no shortage of negative news items throughout the world these days that challenge those who struggle to stay in touch with values such as truth, decency and respect for all.

In fact, there are so many negatives that positive values are often pushed aside for political or financial gain, no matter the cost. All this, as most of the world prepares to celebrate Christmas with all the trimmings possible, despite many countries still very much in the grip of a pandemic with no clear picture of when it will all end.

Bermuda is very much a part of that challenge, and even though we have a small population compared with other larger jurisdictions, we too are confronted with negative issues that are not only challenging for those in authority but are daily obstacles for family life, where staying positive, in some cases, is like trying to scale Mount Everest with your bare hands.

In the midst of this are many children who witness heated exchanges between parents, and are often sitting in classrooms trying to study while wondering what life is all about. There are parents and guardians who do everything possible to focus on positives, and they do this because they truly believe that children are guided by examples.

Trying to stay positive, most would agree, is easier said than done, especially when there are so many poor examples from those with political and military power who wield a heavy hand when it comes to justice and true freedom for all.

Some of the world’s best journalists come under fire daily for turning a bright light on efforts by some to circumvent proper values that provide freedom and justice for all.

Although we are aware that in a world with a never-ending stream of negative material making its way into young minds and creating additional problems for parents and guardians, the need to stay positive has never been as crucial. Sadly there are no easy quick solutions to a problem affecting countries around the world.

No amount of material gifts or bright festive lights on a sparkling tree will alter negative attitudes taking root through a lack of close guidance in a young developing mind. Parenting these days could be more complicated than the skill needed to get a giant airliner across oceans keeping everyone safe.

Nevertheless parenting remains a vital part of any society hoping to have children become citizens who carry the torch of truth and decency that could benefit future generations.

This is why most of the United States and indeed people who follow global events were shocked beyond measure when news broke that parents in the US had purchased a handgun for their 15-year-old son as a Christmas gift even though he was not mentally stable. Even more shocking was the fact that in school he was detected trying to secure ammunition, and when the parents were notified the mother told her son that he should try not to get caught.

Something is terribly wrong here. Both parents knew their son was planning something but ignored the danger signs. Four students were later killed by that gun with several injured. The boy was taken into custody, and although the parents went into hiding, a massive police hunt, including the FBI, located them, and now they too are in custody facing numerous charges.

Perhaps the real tragedy is that a nation obsessed with guns finds itself unable or unwilling to take measures that would set off a huge reaction over the constitutional Second Amendment right to carry arms.

Easy access to deadly weapons remains a critical problem throughout most of the country. There are reports that in many states there are children openly expressing fear about going to school, a place where they should be safe. The issue has the potential of becoming a political bouncing ball, as politicians think more about votes than bullets, until the next incident occurs.

Again, trying to stay focused on positive values is an uphill battle in many countries including our lovely island Bermuda. Gun play in crime, reckless speeding, illegal drug activity and domestic abuse are subjects usually kept behind the social curtains.

Christmas celebrations generate a warmer spirit with most people and that is always a positive tone in community life. However, we as an island community must demand that no stone be left unturned in helping to plant positive values in the minds of our young people. This is best done by example. It is not a matter of being perfect but it is a matter of making a greater effort to promote positive values.

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Published December 13, 2021 at 7:43 am (Updated December 13, 2021 at 10:51 am)

Good parenting is more challenging – and more necessary – than ever

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