I love being part of a Church and having friends who live close by who I can watch and support as they tackle the parenting adventure. Lets be honest, it is a massive learning curve! Bringing up a child is a huge responsibility, especially in a climate where more young people than ever feel unable to cope with life.
Living in London is a real mixed bag. I love the diversity, the activity, the community. I do not love the poverty, the abuse, the neglect. Now I know these issues affect people from all strands of society; however, I especially struggle when they happen to vulnerable children. On a daily basis I probably see a child being treated in a way that I worry about. Whether its a 6 year old playing outside on their own near busy roads, or a toddler being screamed at by a parent for no good reason. Now I don't want to judge at all - I don't know what it's like being a parent. I don't know the daily grind of kids winding you up or sleep deprivation. But I do know that research has proven that children need a number of things to succeed in life.
- Stability - having routines; access to shelter, food and essential amenities; a consistent family environment.
- Boundaries - knowing where they stand, not having erratic expectations.
- Quality time with adults - intentional time of quality interaction.
- Opportunities to have new experiences - chances to take risks, safe places to fail and learn.
- Positive affirmation - being told that they can achieve, believe in themselves etc
If I'm honest I look at the communities I live and work in and a lot of families are broken. I look at some of the kids and they do not have any of the above list.
Working for a youth-work charity I see how young people struggle to communicate positively with adults because they have had few opportunities to. I see young people reluctant to try new things because they are afraid of failing. I see young people who have messed up home lives and trust issues. I see the impact of a young person not knowing that they are loved.
It makes me think.
As a member of my community I have a responsibility to help and support parents and children in whatever way I can. Whether its by babysitting or going out for a drink with parents, or by giving up time to go and help parents during the day. I would love there to be a day where youth workers are no longer needed. Where young people feel so loved and cared for by their families and communities that my job just doesn't exist.
However, in the meantime I want to be someone who has time for children. As a Christian I take Jesus' example pretty seriously - he prioritised spending time with children.
"But Jesus said, "Let the children come to me. Don't stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children." Matt 19:14
Below is a video about a girl that XLP has been working with for about 2-3 years now - I'm not putting it up to plug XLP, but rather to show the impact that comes from having people that believe in you.