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How do we raise children in a world filled with hate?

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I am not someone who asks for much, despite what my husband might tell you. Truth be told, I really only want the simple things in life.

Happiness, good health, love, to eat whatever I want and never gain weight...

But most of all I want to be able to provide for my son. Maslow was on to something when he created his hierarchy; unfortunately I don’t think he could foresee the problems our nation would gradually encounter when determining our basic human needs.

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I’m not talking about the “givens;” shelter, food, access to a good education. Don’t get me wrong – I want to be able to continually give those things to my son; any parent does. Those are the daily things we all too often take for granted.

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The question I often find myself asking day after day, and many a sleepless night, is

How on earth do I raise a son in these times?

I don’t remember our world being in such a state of turmoil when I was a child. This either means my mother did an amazing job at sheltering me from it, or times have really changed. It breaks my heart to see on one end of the spectrum, how advanced our country has become, yet on the other, our basic humanity continues to tailspin out of control.

Every single time I turn on the news, I’m hearing of a new tragedy across the country and even in my own backyard. It’s a nightly occurrence on our local news station to hear about the next town over; the town I grew up in. Shootings are occurring on almost a daily basis there and lives are being lost.

It’s gotten so bad, that I no longer travel that way when the sun sets. It’s gotten so bad, that I rethink stopping by the mall in the evenings, and never with my son in tow.

It’s gotten so bad, that I refuse to take my family to our annual city Fair for fear of what might break out if tempers rise amidst such a large crowd.

It’s gotten so bad, that I can’t imagine bringing another life into this world.

Being a parent means I already have a fully working “worry system” built in. But I never, in a million years, thought I would have to add so many of our daily tasks to the list that I already worry about.

Our country is hurting, and it seems to only be getting worse. From politics, to acts of terrorism; natural disasters, to devastating accidents; the majority of our problems are stemming from a knee-jerk reaction of anger and despair.

This has to stop.

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It doesn’t really matter what my opinions are on the topics in the news; and no offense, but your opinions don’t really matter that much, either. Opinions get us nowhere. It’s our actions that make a difference. The way we treat other people; the way we either make a decision to stand up, or to sit down, when we see things going so horribly wrong.

The damage has already been done. We can’t go back and unsay the things that were said; we can’t bring back those who have needlessly lost their lives. What we can do, is teach our children to be better than we have been.

But how?

How do I teach my son what it means to grow up to be a good man when the world is already setting such a horrible example?

How do I explain to my son that the answer to protesting against violence is not, in turn, more violence; despite what we see on the news and in our towns every day?

How do I teach him to be cautious and to stay safe in our world without instilling fear into him?

How do I teach him these things without stealing his innocence? It terrifies me to think of him growing up and facing these problems as an adult.

I want to make him understand that we are all in this together, but I need him to know that these dangers are real, and sometimes trust comes with a price.

I wish I had the answers to my questions above. I don’t even begin to know what we can do. But in our house, we try because it’s our duty. We owe it to our son to give him everything he needs in life to grow up to be an amazing human being. And we understand that this responsibility lies on our shoulders and begins at home.

We teach him about respecting others. We teach him about equality, and unfortunately, sometimes, our world’s lack thereof. We teach him the importance of always doing the right thing, and correcting our mistakes when they’re made.

If it’s true what they say; that love is natural and hate is learned, then my heart breaks to think of those who have lost or taken someone’s life due to hate. All of those people, good and bad, were once someone’s child. They all had a chance to be something great.

And here’s the thing; we all have a chance to be something great. We all deserve to live a life without fear and with love.

So.. how do we begin to make a difference?

Article originally published on Natasha Funderburk, Life & Style and The Huffington Post. You can find other similar articles on natashafunderburk.com.

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