Editorial: Raising a Community

This has been an emotional week for many. Whether it was celebrating the peaceful transfer of Presidential power or the Women’s March on Washington, there were ample opportunities to see our democracy in action. And we did. There was a humorous moment in our household on Saturday when we all were watching the March. Father took exception Madonna’s use of vulgarity in her speech and immediately took to Facebook to complain. Daughter took exception to father’s exception and immediately responded. What ensued was 30 minutes of Facebook comments between the two as they sat silently on the living room couches. The power of social media. Others joined the conversation from as far away as Maine and Arizona. The consensus was that daughter was bright, smart, funny and able to articulate her points without the need to resort to vulgarity.

As parents, raising our children is our most important responsibility. We may or may not know if we have done a good job in our lifetime, but we hope so. When children are born they depend on their parents for everything needed to sustain life and grow, mentally and physically. Over the next 20 years or so, that dependency steadily decreases. When they are young it is easy. It is when they are teenagers and young adults that we, as parents, are most on guard; hoping, praying, that they are making good decisions.

Why discuss this now? Earlier this week three individuals were arrested in conjunction with a heroin overdose in town. There seems to be a rise in police activity associated with heroin use, and this is a grave concern. Each of those involved in this most recent episode was between the ages of 20 and 24. What happened to their decision-making skills that using or selling heroin became an acceptable activity? Heroin use among 18 to 24-year-olds has been steadily growing nationwide for the past decade. Here in Greenwich our own Tim Dumas and Greenwich Magazine have done an excellent job of bringing attention to this epidemic, but we must not let it stop there. If anything, the arrests earlier this week are a loud, clanging siren that we, as a community, must do more.

It starts in the home. As parents, we are supposed to know our children the best. Engaging and actively talking and listening with our children is a large part of learning who they are. It starts at birth and does not end at any magical age; it never ends, as our children are continually growing and evolving. At a certain point we must trust them to begin to make decisions on their own. This is when it can be most anxiety filling to be a parent. We hope that we have given them the skills to decide right from wrong. They, of course, will make mistakes along the way and we must be there for them when they do. Teaching our children that they can talk to us about anything is a lifelong lesson. Every child, whether 14 or 24, needs someone, hopefully a parent, they can talk to about issues they are facing.

The listening is the key. Being an active listener, hearing what is said and sometimes what is not said can give huge insight into how our children are doing and what they are feeling. There is so much news and so many stimuli bombarding them all day, every day that they can become overwhelmed. Without having a healthy way to turn the noise off they can turn to drugs, or worse, to try and escape it. Having someone to talk with is a healthy way.

Raising our children is not just a responsibility; children are our greatest gift to our community. Let us raise a community of thinkers and doers; people who talk and listen to one another, and most important, who respect one another for what makes each of us different and unique and for what makes us come together as a community.

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