Caldwell: Crazy world puts parenting skills to test

It is a scary time to be a kid.

Sure, many children today have a multitude of educational, social and entertainment opportunities we never dreamed of 25 years ago, but these are also mirrored by hurdles, pitfalls and challenges that didn’t exist either.

For many youth, the 21st Century has been marked by confusing messages, scary events and an uncertain future.

We are in a deeply divided political climate where individuals on both sides of the aisle resort to name calling and attacks that clearly cross into the personal realm. Many people express such blatant disdain for the President of the United States that it is probably unprecedented. It is also very confusing to children who have been taught to respect their elders and people in position of authority.

Barely a day goes by without a mass shooting or other terrorist-type attack occurring somewhere in the world. Many of these hit close to home and innocent civilians are often caught in the wake of this violence.

And then, last week, North Korea proudly announced it has missile capabilities to deliver a nuclear warhead to American soil. For youth who never experienced the Cold War or other conflicts, these events create a palpable sense of fear.

Don’t believe me? You may be surprised if you ask your children.

My family and I were in a restaurant recently when my 7-year-old saw file footage of soldiers marching on a news broadcast on one of the many televisions surrounding the dining areas. This brought to the surface all the things she had been — unbeknownst to us — absorbing through peripheral contact to the media.

She burst into tears.

It is heartbreaking as a parent to answer questions about war, whether or not another country is going to bomb us and if we are all going to die.

We did our best to explain to her and her sister what is going on in the world, but this can be difficult.

Of course, all parents try to protect their children and shield them from bad news as much as possible.

It is certainly a fine line to walk between sheltering them from the truth of the world we live in and overwhelming them with harsh truths they shouldn’t have to deal with until they are a little older.

I certainly don’t have all the answers of how to walk this tightrope. I don’t know that anyone does.

When you couple this with the social pressures that come from social media, peer pressure and cultural divisions, I go back to my original statement: It is a scary time to be a kid in the world today.

All we can do is try our best as parents to teach them, protect them and love them, knowing there will be some tears and heartache along the way. All we can do is our best and never lose sight of the fact the rewards of being a parent outweigh everything else.

Michael Caldwell is publisher of The Winchester Sun and Winchester Living magazine. He can be reached at (859) 759-0095 or by email at mike.caldwell@winchestersun.com.