When I learn about a horrible tragedy where someone loses a family member in a violent or horrific manner, I want to hold on to my kids. Physically wrap them in my arms, and hug them tight; I don’t care how big or where they are, the need to feel them close and know they are safe is overwhelming. It may mean the computer screen hug, but at least I can eyeball them.
My heart goes out to these young boys who lost their mom and dad tragically on Monday. Domestic violence is horrible and has terrible outcomes. The boys have some tough days ahead and I hope that they will be surrounded by a circle of love and support for many years to come because they are going to need this forever. They will need people to understand the trauma they have experienced and to be compassionate. So will their families need support.
There will be important roles for family members to play and for friends. They will have so many questions through the years as they grow up and find their way in the world.
As adults we can play important roles in a young person’s life outside of a parental role. Teachers, coaches, family doctors, dentists, bus drivers, school secretaries, child care providers, ministers, friends’ parents, aunts and uncles, grandparents, are important to a child. I can think of so many people who had a positive influence with my sons and I am very grateful for them.
Neighbours can be very important to a young person, as they live close by, can have almost daily interactions and are the first ones from whom they learn about the strength of community. I have the pleasure of living beside young Pearl and Leo. They know their neighbours and visit us, and watch out for us, as we do them. If I am working too much, Pearl, who is four, lets me know this over tea, or she may help with decorations, or just sharing stories. I love to watch them play, visit and go about their lives in this area, feeling good about knowing who lives across the road and down the street.
I heard of a great story of a young man living in Brooklyn in the ‘60s. He was Italian and he lived in a neighbourhood of first-generation Italian immigrants. When he was about 12 he skipped school one afternoon with his friend to go play ball in an area park. To get there they had to walk through their neighbourhood of homes and businesses. It was a busy place so they thought no one would notice them. Well apparently the two young fellows were noticed. “Joey, Tommy, what are you doing out of school, are you sick?” “We are counting on you, Joey, to finish high school, get an education, live the American dream.” They went back to school.
What Joey learned that day was he was an important person in his neighbourhood and people cared about him.
Take an interest in a young person. Be a part of their village and your own circle of support will be enhanced.
Michele Blais is a Realtor in Vernon and a longtime columnist with The Morning Star who writes about a wide variety of topics, appearing every other Sunday.