Bullying, teasing, blackmailing. Children begin tormenting one another at very young ages. Even preschoolers call each other hurtful names, refuse to play with someone, and physically antagonize. There also is a current trend toward very young children, particularly girls, threatening to remove their friendship if another child doesn’t do what they want.
The reasons why children are hurtful, angry, and even violent are many. Crime and terror-driven TV shows and video games, movies inappropriate for their age, detached and stressed-out parents, emotional illness, poverty, and many cultural and social situations contribute toward this.
There is a saying that it takes a village to raise a child. These children are our future, and acknowledging and securing their well-being is imperative for them and the world at large. Even if we do not have direct contact, children are watching and listening to us. They are learning from our words and examples. We have daily opportunities to touch the life of a child and promote a brighter future for all of us
In 1826, at only 28 years of age, Saint Theodora was sent to the parish school of St. Aubin at Rennes, France. The six hundred students enrolled there were difficult for the Sisters of Providence to handle. They were unruly, unkind to one another, and disrespectful to the sisters. The children came from impoverished families who knew little about faith.
Saint Theodora turned the school around, one student at a time, by loving them and rewarding them when they did well. She told the sisters to love the children first and then teach. She raised their awareness about God, and in doing so, the children brought their faith home to their families. At the end of her nine years of service to that community, the whole parish embraced Saint Theodora and held her in high esteem for her dedication to each one of them.
Saint Theodora knew that if the children did not feel loved, it was difficult for them to learn and behave. They needed to feel secure about themselves before relating to anyone else. That should be our first objective also. Smile, listen, and love the young people in our life. They need us.
©2014, Mary K. Doyle