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Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Panhandling Children: Right or Wrong?

For the last week a woman has been exploiting her four little girls by standing on our street corner begging for money at the four-way stop. I approached her last week with a number that would connect her to every possible resource in the state of Colorado. I pleaded with her not to expose her children to this type of living. Although she thanked me she returned two days later. This time her daughter were dressed in frilly dresses and running near the edge of the road. I worried the entire time that one of them might be hit by a car. In my opinion this is child abuse. There is no reason to use kids to invoke pity when we are a wealthy nation who gives so much. She doesn’t have to do this.

There used to be a time when kids could sell lemonade on the street corner to get money. There was a value to giving them a work ethic. It’s fun and exciting to learn how to make money by being an entrepreneur. It gives the salesperson the ability to take other steps to being successful. Now however, a kid has to apply for a permit to sell lemonade or face getting a ticket for breaking the law, yet this mother can parade her kids around so others contribute to their shame. Growing up in poverty myself, I understand the humiliation of having a parent use her children to get things. The persistent embarrassment has had an everlasting impact. Seeing her children being subjected to this type of life disturbs my peace. 

There is nothing positive that comes from teaching children to be panhandlers. They lose the ability to empower themselves, they face humiliation at the sneers of those who are disgusted by what their mother is doing and they learn they have no control over their lives and must depend of the pity of others. It was clear these kids had a home. They were well dressed in clean clothes and healthy looking as they frolicked at the edge of the street. We have shelters, food banks, welfare and much much more we can offer. Please consider not enabling her because as of yesterday, she has been rewarded for what she is doing which means those precious little girls will be out their every weekend begging for money instead of playing at the park and having a play date with their friends. It’s one thing to be an adult and feel you have to do this desperate act but it’s entirely different to exploit children. Any deviant could stop at that stop sign and abduct one of them while she’s reaching in to take a dollar from someone else. We just learned there is a registered sex offended within a stone’s throw from where she is exposing her children. Now I’m begging: Don’t support this as everything in childhood is transferable to adulthood. Is this what we want?

As a child advocate and therapist, I have used an old phrase, “It’s easier to build children than to repair adults.” Be a part of the solution. Please.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Like Your Kids More Than Love Them

In one of my books, "Parent In Style" I share that parents are the potters and children are the clay. We are molding kids everyday with every word we say and with every action we take. How often do we find ourselves yelling or expressing our frustration with our kids—only to realize we might have been too harsh? Consider how the sharp and admonishing words impact their sense of self. In my parenting class, I teach adults how to reframe their words so children can listen without being crushed emotionally. When we talk down to them over and over again because by nature kids make mistakes the criticism lends itself to developing their self-image. If we started talking to them as though we like them we can shift how they view themselves.

We have to decide how we want to support our children's future because we can either build kids or repair adults. Unwittingly, we often teach them to respect elders, do as their told, never to talk back and to know adults are always right. This mentality conditions children to disregard their own impressions of reality and adopt the adults' perception. This would perhaps be okay if all adults were healthy but so often there are those who aren't but young-developing minds don't understand how to discern the unhealthy criticism and are unable to separate what is true and what is not. I once had a 14-year old boy tell me he was a bad kid but when challenged as to why, he could not verbalize one trait that would prove he was bad. He was unable to backup his claim with facts. The only reason he bought into the propaganda was because the adults around him indoctrinated this young man to accept he was worthless, useless and undeserving. I once read children have no power and they know it, but adults have power and don't know it. There is a reason for this self-imposed restriction: everything we believe about ourselves is rooted in childhood and transferrable to adulthood. Therefore, it would behoove us all to choose our words and deeds carefully so children have the ability to keep their esteem intact, like themselves as much as we like them so they can grow into healthy adults.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Woman in Uber Car Caught Abusing Child

Woman in Uber Car Beating Son in Public and Police Say They Can’t Help

On a casual Saturday trip to Home Depot in Aurora, Colorado, my husband and I witnessed a woman in an Uber car brutally beating her son in front of two other kids. I sprung into action and approached her asking her if I could help, yet she relentlessly continued pummeling the young man as though I wasn’t even there. I started banging on the roof of the car demanding she stop. My efforts went unnoticed. It wasn’t until another witnessed announced she called the police that the woman very calmly crawled off her son and got behind the wheel of her car and drove away. I took the initiative to take a picture of her license plate number and when the Aurora police officers were taking our statements they apologized claiming because she was from out-of-state, they had no way to track her. Within minutes of reviewing the photo it became clear that the car belonged to an Uber driver. Amazing a mere civilian could find a clue faster than two trained police officers. If this woman was assaulting a person, like a judge or politian, my guess is these “peace” officers would have made a greater effort to figured out how to execute an all-points bulletin that would have nabbed her faster than she could reach her destination. When I asked whether they could announce over the police scanner the make and model of the car with the license-plate number, the police officer acted as though it would be a hassle. I am a mandatory reporter and have spent a lifetime training families not to be violent and I genuinely wanted to assist. But it was to no avail. I trusted the system would have done something to protect these kids, but the response seemed uncaring and apathetic. It is no wonder young people are shooting up schools and joining gangs everyday. I feel I failed these children because I didn’t drag this woman off her son and make a citizen’s arrest. The headlines report violence daily and yet we are unwilling to do our due diligence to protect our children.

In case I’m wrong, as I sometimes am, I’m willing to concede and apologize if the police really do have their hands tied and truly are unable to assist our community. So to provide support, I’ve decided to put the picture of the car online and, with your help, perhaps you can help the Aurora Police Department by calling in an anonymous tip or maybe call your contacts at Uber and let them know one of their employees is a child abuser.