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Not powerless: What parents can do after Newtown

NEED TO KNOW
  • Author: Parents are raising children in a 'culture of violence'
  • With 'death and murder everywhere', we must live by example
  • 'We can decide to teach our children about peace and make a commitment to leading peaceful lives'
Michelle Noehren, the editor of CTWorkingMoms.com, says parents must live by example when raising their kids.
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Michelle Noehren, author

Editor's Note: Michelle Noehren is the founder and editor of CTWorkingMoms.com -– an award-winning website focused on supporting working mothers. She resides in Connecticut with her husband and 18-month-old daughter. You can follow CTWorkingMoms on Facebook and on Twitter.

Today I dropped my daughter off at daycare, just as I do every work day. But today isn’t just a normal day – it’s the first work day after a horrible tragedy occurred in my home state of Connecticut. A tragedy that has left millions of parents feeling anxious about sending their children to school and has left our hearts irreparably broken.

As I drove away after dropping off my daughter, I couldn’t stop thinking about how someday I’m going to have to talk to her about what happened. I can’t stop thinking about how sad it is that our children are being raised in a world where violence is so commonplace. Most of all, I can’t stop thinking about the need for peace. As cliché as it sounds, we need more peace. We need to build a culture in America that values peace over violence, compassion over anger.

I want to raise my precious, beautiful little girl in a society that truly values human life and doesn’t demean it by showing death and murder everywhere we look – video games, TV shows, movies and more.

I want her to know that violence is not the answer to conflict, that compassion and understanding are the only tools she needs to resolve her problems. And I know that as her parent, it is my responsibility to arm her with the tools she will need to lead a peaceful life.

I also know that as her mom, it is my duty to live by example. I need to consider how I handle conflict in my life – do I think negative thoughts about others? Do I let anger get the best of me and control the way I respond to difficult situations? Do I value every living being and believe that everyone’s happiness is as important as my own? Do I value living a peaceful life above all else?

These are questions I have been asking myself for a while and now seem even more relevant than they did before Friday morning.

While there are many legitimate discussions happening about gun control and other government supports, I want parents to know that they aren’t powerless. The events that transpired in Newtown have understandably made so many people feel like there’s nothing they can do but we can do something and we can do it immediately. We can decide to teach our children about peace and make a commitment to leading peaceful lives ourselves.

How do we begin? To start, we need to examine our actions, our thoughts and our speech to see if we are guilty of contributing to the culture of violence that has overtaken our society. Peace begins within and unless we are willing to look inside of ourselves and ask some of these hard questions, we will continue to see our society plagued with violent events that are beyond our wildest imagination.

“No one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk the path.” Today, these words from a Buddhist proverb ring so very true. Let us all decide that peace is a priority for ourselves, for our children and for our country.

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