Too often, I come across broken or saddened teens and preteens, who appear down on themselves. The youth and vigor for life, that we expect to see missing. Young people, who we adults think are in their prime, walking around as empty vessels, looking for anything to fill them...in the case of Izabel Laxamana, her fix was suicide...and I ask myself does it have to be this way?
In a society that values productivity, numbers, and letters, virtues such as compassion, empathy and love are seen as secondary and not as important. We push our children to do more, listen more, act better, do better, but are we? We expect that they become the models of what our visions want them to become and we forget that they have already arrived, brining who they are...only we've forgotten to look. In her case, the last straw seemed to be the public shaming from her father - although, there is talk about bullying and things of that nature happening in her life.
Izabel Laxamana's life is typical to many younger people that we see: bullied in school, and shamed by her father, and yet, many many times, when we hear about this happening, some think, eh this is normal, and dismiss their feelings by saying, they have to learn to accept this part of life. But I ask you, how many more children are going to take their lives due to feelings that are too dark for them to understand, before we accept that we have to try another way?
I've seen it many times. Tired parent. Parents that are trying to make a living. Exhausted. Trying to scrape together enough money to get by, and taking their frustrations out on their children. Parents who are trying to reach their children, and have them do what is necessary for them to be successful, in order to lead the lives that the parents dream of...only it's hard to listen when you're not listening. Children are crying out in mass about what is going on in their lives - the second leading cause of death in children/teens ages 10 to 24 IS suicide - and about what they don't approve of, what it is that they need in their lives, only we don't listen....and one would say: I ask them, but they don't tell me. Or, they don't listen. Or, my child is not behaving properly. Only...What we think is "bad behavior" is actually a cry for help. They say I need to be heard, and I don't know to ask for it properly - or I don't think that I will be heard - and you will won't understand.
The problem is that we don't know how to identify the behavior, because many of us, are dealing with our own sets of problems and think that our children's problems are somehow less than ours - until it's too late. Until cases like Izabel Laxamana's pop up...this does not have to happen.
I use this post as a call to action. A call to have any parent out there rethink their strategies: children don't have to be shamed (publicly or privately) or punished to make them behave better...we can learn to do it another way. You can challenge your beliefs and stories. Learn to listen to their song, and DISCIPLINE them in a way that brings you closer together and helps you both learn to heal...HEAL WITH THEM.
I've quoted before, Martin Luther King, Jr.'s famous lines
and they seem fitting again. Let's not let her life mean nothing. Let's take it as a lesson, and allow it to mean everything. Yes, what we tell our children, how we treat them, the way we think about them, makes a difference.
The truth is that this dad was probably doing his best. The best with what he knew - because come on, that's all that we can ever do at any moment - only it didn't help his daughter, Izabel Laxamana.
So, how do you know if your child needs you to learn another way? I'll tell you, it's pretty simple. Start by asking yourself the simple question, "does my child open up to me?" When he or she is hurting (crying, sad, upset, angry, frustrated) do they turn to you and open up? Do they feel safe feeling vulnerable with you? If not, it might be time for another way.
Do you need help? You can start by listening to your child. Quieting your old stories, and learning to listen to your child.
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