Editors Note – It is interesting to me that this particular post was actually submitted to us over a week ago. Since that time, Iyanla’s personal Facebook profile was hacked and the hackers also took over her Facebook page, removing all administrators from the page and using it to post malicious links. Iyanla’s grace far outlasts such heinous attacks and we at VividLife are personally amazed at how this post really applies to her situation. We hope that the person or persons responsible for this can read this and know and understand that there is hope for them to create something good in this world.
They live in Phoenix, Charlotte, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Detroit, the suburbs and every other major city, county and town. Some of them have a High School diplomas; others a GED. Some are struggling to complete High School. Many have lost all hope that it will happen. They all have telephones for which only a few pay the bill. Many of them, particularly the males, are experts at video games and texting. For fun, they love to smoke marijuana. To pass the time, they engage in unprotected sex.
Sometimes when they approach you, they seem quiet and unassuming but, on any given day, you can hear them coming from a mile away. They can be loud, are often foul mouthed and, if you look too long in their direction they might threaten to cut you – – or worse. At home they lie and they steal and they make you responsible for what they do and what they cannot do. Many want to be something; a rapper. Others want to do something; play basketball or appear on a reality show. Chances are you will not understand what they value – – money, sex and violence. You stare at them in disbelief. You listen to them with shock and awe. You wonder what happened to them and what will happen for them. Then, you remember, these are our children; 21st century teenagers who seem for some ungodly reason to be running amuck. What is wrong with the tree that the fruit has begun to rot?
Something has gone terribly wrong in our lives that have sent our children into a tailspin and, it seems that nobody cares. I don’t really mean nobody. Of course we care but, either we are so shocked, so afraid, so horrified, so powerless with guilt and fear that we are frozen in time and space trying to figure out what to do. In the meantime, while we try to gather our sense and come up with an action plan, our children are flunking out of school, having children, killing themselves and each other and creating a future in the world that is clearly apocalyptic. Parents and teachers seem powerless. Social agencies are overwhelmed. Mentors are few and scarce and quite frankly, many of us are just sacred of the people to whom we gave birth. I gave birth to and raised 3 children; most of the time I did this without the benefit of having a partner.
While it is true that things were not always peachy between my children and me, there were some things, certain behaviors they knew were unacceptable. This does not mean that they did not engage in these behaviors. It means that I did not know about it and/or they never got caught. Today my eldest offspring is 41years old. He has made some huge mistakes for which he paid dearly and, he has never spoken a foul word to me. He has said he would cut his hand off before he raised it in my direction. This is not the case in many household. Not sure how it happened or when it began that children give their parents a “beat down.” My youngest child is 37. She and I have had a very rocky and fractured relationship and still, she will acknowledge that she would not dare speak to me the way her sons speak to her. That’s right! I have two of the people described above in my own immediate family. No one is immune. We are all in this together.
Our children are in trouble! Is it because we, the adults, parent, care-givers had troubles, issues, problems that for so long went unaddressed that our children are now experiencing the trickle down of our dysfunction? Or, is it because the world in which we live has changed so much, so fast that what is required to address the needs of our children today is beyond our capacity to provide? Or, is it because we have buried our head in the sand believing they are responsible for what they are experiencing and that we have done all we can do? Or, is it that we are so caught up trying to keep the roofs over our heads that our children have simply become the casualties of the war of survival? Or, is it that we have given them so many things and so few values that they have become consumed with a spirit of entitlement, an attitude of defiance and a consciousness of f—it if you don’t like it? Or, is it that the chickens are simply coming home to roost? Meaning what we ignored, avoided, denied and dismissed in our own hearts and lives is now being visited upon our children? Who knows. Could be. Maybe. Maybe not. The bottom line is that our children are in trouble and their behavior, their failure, their acting out is not the cause. What we see them do is the effect of a much deeper issue.
I have two grandsons and it pains me to acknowledge that both of them are in deep trouble. I wish I could tell you that I know what to do, what to say and how to address the problem. I know their mother, my daughter, has done the best she knew to do and, it was not enough. It did not meet their needs. I know that neither of these young men has had the consistent influence and input of a father in their lives. I am sure they are angry about it. I am not sure they understand why. I do know they refuse to talk about it with their mother, me or a counselor. I know that I have probably given them more than I should have requiring little, if anything in return. I played the traditional grandmother role. Being with me was a fun time break away from mom. I know that what they learned in school has not, did not prepare them for the demands of the world in which we now live. They have big dreams, few skills and very little faith – – in themselves or their acceptance and place in the world. I know that I have, on more than one occasion, attempted to find resources, facilities and activities to support them, train them, teach them, to no avail. It seems that because they are not in “real” trouble yet, meaning they have committed no crime, have no children and have at least one committed parent and because there are so many like them who have no one, we cannot get any traction of assistance in what I know to be a mounting problem. I have to ask myself, who cares? Unless the young person presents a clear danger to themselves and others; who cares? There are so many of them and so few resources. Perhaps those who do care are so preoccupied with determining what happened and how it happened in order to stop it from continuing to happen that they cannot address what is happening.
What I know is that I care. I pray every day for my grandsons and all the other young people out there who are wondering, who cares? What I am calling for now is consistent, communal prayer and consistent communal action and consistent involvement in our schools and consistent parental support and education and consistent and caring mentoring and consistent self-awareness that leads to a deep level of personal growth that is shared with our youth. I am asking that we all care and find new ways to demonstrate it.
This Week’s Reading:
Our dream is our truth and our future and is ours to create.
And to do it, we must begin with a re-commitment to our
children—however old they may be or seem.
If we do not fight for them, stand up for them,
they will be rendered extinct. The prisons, the
homicides, the hateful policies tell us this daily.
It tells the story of the crisis our young people are in.
It tells the story of their lives.
It tells the story of our lives.
Let’s make #used2beme a trending topic on Twitter.
Please Tweet This…
“Follow @usedtwo2beme and help break the silence and stigma of depression and pain and personal crisis that is killing our precious children. #used2beme”
Iyanla Vanzant is the best-selling author of five books on self-empowerment, personal growth and spiritual healing. As the founder and executive director of the Inner Visions Spiritual Life Maintenance Network, she conducts workshops, seminars and lectures nationally. Drawing from her own experiences of family dysfunction, abuse, and poverty, Iyanla encourages us all to look at ourselves, laugh at ourselves and then take the necessary steps to heal ourselves. Her practical message is based on the principles of universal law, self-determination and the power of Spirit. You can learn more about her work at www.innervisionsworldwide.com.
Iyanla has recently appeared several times during Oprah’s Lifeclass webcast segments. You can view the classes here: http://www.oprah.com/oprahs-lifeclass/oprahs-lifeclass.html