Parenting teens and a toddler simultaneously is a stressful role. On the one hand you worry your toddler is watching way to much TV, on the other you wish too much TV time was top on your list of ‘worries’ for your teens.
As children get older they inevitably start to become sensitive to their environment. Not just at home but school, with friends and other family members.
You try to instil confidence, assurances that they are loved, needed, they belong and are a vital and important part of your family and society in their own right.
You try and protect them from certain things, as best you can, and make them feel safe. The more the years go by the more they are subjected to. They learn through one medium or another, be it television, school or everyday conversation. They learn that the world isn’t the same as their warm and secure home environment.
You don’t want them to be frightened or appalled by the things that happen, the horrors humans are capable of, but you know that they must, at some point, know about them in order for them to become well-rounded and aware young adults.
On Friday evening I sat watching the news with Holly, the reports flitted between the heartbreaking footage of war torn Syria to discussions of Jeremy Corbyn’s stance on chemical warfare and the devastating school shooting in Oregon.
Holly turned to me and said ‘There’s no hope, Mum’
I asked what she meant and she explained that she felt there was no hope for the world, for the people in it, that she couldn’t understand how or why these things are happening and that there was no way back from it.
And I felt heartbroken for her, heartbroken that in that moment her outlook was hopelessness. That her life, the world she lives in has lost hope.
How do I answer this, what can I say to make this better?
The thing is, nothing I could have said can make any of this less horrendous, less frightening for her.
So we start to talk about all the wonderful, courageous and brave people we know about. We talk of different charities and the amazing work they do. How good, decent and selfless people give up their entire lives and dedicate them to helping others.
Holly has always said since she was a young girl that she wants to work as a volunteer in another country and so we talk about the ways in which just one person can make a difference to so many lives. That they can inspire and teach and promote change.
We talk about how she might do this one day, how we might even experience it together and I feel that day I have done my job as a mum, but it is so very tough.
The feeling of being torn between protecting your child from all that is evil, to that of moulding them into the type of person who may, one day, have a hand in defeating it.
As you grow older please remember our conversation Holly, and the things that we decided that day.
Where there is war and hatred there is also love.
Where there is devastation, there is the promise of peace.
And most of all,
Where there is humankind, there is always, always hope.