(archived from Mar. 5, 2013)
Last week a 7th grade boy in a nearby middle school committed suicide. As the mother of a 7th grade boy I find myself wondering about this boy’s parents. First of all my heart breaks for the way they must be suffering. But I also can’t help but wonder if there were signs that they missed. Not to judge them at all, just to educate myself and other parents. I feel like I would know if one of my boys was a danger to himself. Surely I’d see it, right?
As the mom of a blended family it does give me cause to take a closer look at the behavior of all our children. Would I see the signs in the children that I haven’t raised from birth? Especially the two who don’t live with us full time. Some weekends when they visit they are more quiet or more cranky, and I rarely know the cause. Sometimes they are mad at their other parents. Other times it’s a sibling issue. Sometimes it’s school or girlfriend related. But how deep do those hurts go? How can I know?
It all takes me back to the years I lived with my single mom, and then in blended families as both my parents remarried. I’ll admit I contemplated suicide many times between the ages of 13 and 22. Did anybody see the warning signs in me? It wouldn’t have been easy. I was moody, I was secretive. I doubt most adults would have been able to discern when my moods dropped into the danger zone.
What I want to do is use those past experiences to make sure none of our kids get into that danger zone. I cannot control their moods or their reactions to situations, but I can make sure that they always know they are loved and valued. Here are some things I vow to do for ALL 5 of our children.
– LOVE unconditionally
– ACCEPT differences in their personalities
– ENCOURAGE their strengths and passions
– PROVIDE an ear to listen and a shoulder to cry on
– SUPPORT their interests
– REQUIRE kindness to be shown to each other
– PRAY daily
This doesn’t mean I’ll go wimpy. My husband and I still require them to respect us and other adults, do their best in school, and complete their chores. We are not going to live in fear that they might get depressed. 3 of them are already teenagers and the other 2 will get there soon enough. There will be days when they think the world is a crappy place to be. But what we strive to teach and model is that there is always HOPE for a better tomorrow.