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Episode 3 | Responsible

Updated: Jun 19, 2020


 

Season One | Episode 3

 

What does it mean to be truly responsible? After watching The Trials of Gabriel Fernandez, a docuseries on Netflix that took a close look at the unthinkable treatment and killing of an 8-year-old boy in California, I inspired to discuss the topic of this episode responsibility. So many people had the responsibility to serve this child and failed to protect him. A few days later, on a Tuesday morning, I woke up to the news that hit a personal note that I couldn't deny as the basis for this podcast episode. Listen in to hear the story that rattled me to push record scrapping the ideas I had for this episode to just share directly from the heart.

"My life is immeasurably enriched by taking personal responsibility to do what I can, with what I have, where I am." -Rob Waldrop

Read on for additional notes from the episode!

 

I found out that at one of the schools that I support, there was a 3rd grade that took their own life. With a child around that age, there are floods of questions that went through my head, but since adult responsibility was top of mind of me because of the media, I had just consumed. The only thing that I kept thinking was, "what did someone in this child's life miss?"

I drove Zaire, my son, to school instead of him taking the bus so that I can talk to him about it. As I started to bring up the topic, I realized that this topic could feel taboo for many parents. There was part of me operating out of fear at that moment, that I had to push past. I may not be alone in many parents not talking to their kids about suicide because, in their mind, they are just giving them to the idea to do it themselves when they any feel any emotion that is less than happy. We are doing our kids a disservice if we do not educate them to pick up on the warning signs of their peers. The reality is that kids are likely dropping hints left and right at recess, and it is going unnoticed right between the swings and the slide. I told my son that he has an excellent opportunity to help friends when he hears them talking about hurting themselves, feeling very alone, or just plain sad. He can remind them that he cares. He should go and let an adult know right away. Then, I remembered Gabriel Fernadez and realized that it isn't enough. I also have a responsibility in this if I am instructing my child to get involved. To plan beyond that moment where my son told a teacher about another student saying things that might lead to them harming themselves, my son should also tell me so that I can follow up with the educator. There has to be a check and balance so that children quietly expressing big emotions don't fall through the cracks of being seen, heard, and protected. Our kids are stronger than we think. Just taking that step to have a conversation gives our kids a great amount of power to be impactful in others' lives, even from a very young age. It also lets our kids know that the adults in their life care greatly not only about their well-being but about other kids as well. It contradicts the feeling I had about giving a child the idea to harm themselves. They likely won't take that route when they get sad because they learned what to do if another kid has those feelings. The best way to learn is to teach. Every day we have the opportunity to sow a seed of responsibility that can last a lifetime. What seeds are you planting in your child's life? I was reminded about a story I heard on social media about a father finding out that their child was hit at school by another student. While reacting in anger, he told his son tho hit the child back and to be prepared to get suspended as a result. Since he was operating in an emotional unconstant headspace at that moment, the necessary action to teach his son was revenge and retaliation. After he slept on those directions, he realized that those actions are not aligned to the character he had been working so hard to build in his child. He owned up to that lapse in judgment. He reminded his son to follow steps to protect himself in a nonviolent way and inform an adult if the child threatened him again. Of course, he went to discuss the matter with the teacher directly as well to make sure everyone directly in contact with his son was aware and alert to the actions. What do you do to support the bigger picture you have for your child? Sit in how you feel right now. Remember your mission in life and the plans for your legacy. Think about the vision and power of restoration and relationships, ultimately working to continue to change the lives of others. It's never too young to extend the conversation with kids about what they are responsible for and how that aligns with the bigger picture of the change and impact they want to make on the world. Talking about responsibility got me thinking about the tasks that you want kids to complete each day. The first step in building responsibility habits in kids is a shift in perspective. If we think about young people being fully functioning adults only smaller, what support would you provide for them o be independently successful at any given task? Thinking that kids should suddenly be responsible for multiple actions, items, or tasks because of their age doesn't cut it. Within the continuum of how learning happens in the brain and body, developmental relationships that they have with adults is actually how kids grow and get comfortable with the process of learning. Just think about it, you write multiple lists for items and tasks you need to remember that you have done your entire life to date. Perhaps a few systems and ideas will help children learn with some support before the mental training wheels come off, and they are own their own to perform. Let's set realistic expectations alongside relatable solutions. If you or anyone you know needs help concerning suicide and counseling, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.


 

You will find the Questions to Connections Worksheet for this episode here!

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