“Natural Living Journal”, November-December 2019
In my classroom at Mount Washington Middle School, I have a trash bag hanging on a closet door. In the trash bag are paper wads. Those paper wads are our issues that concern us the most. Above it is a sign that says “Here are the things that I ain’t got time for and that do not scare me”. What do you think those paper wads say? What issues bother and concern a group of middle schoolers the most?
Many would say the issue that concern our middle schoolers the most are drug abuse, drinking or the latest craze which is vaping. Vaping is of great concern to educators such as me. According to truth initiative.org, one Juul pod contains twenty cigarettes worth of nicotine. Does this sound like a safe alternative to smoking that has been marketed to our children? Vaping is in some areas becoming epidemic.
Others might say that the biggest issue facing our children and teens is peer pressure. Peer pressure begins in elementary school, and it never stops. As adults we feel peer pressure every day for different reasons. This is also a great concern for our students. But is it the biggest concern?
Still others would say that our students biggest concern is self-esteem. We all know that as children reach middle school years, they begin to view themselves differently. Their bodies change and their emotions become a mess. They begin to feel that they are ugly and awkward.
Some would even say pressure to perform is the biggest concern for our students today. The pressure to make good grades or measure up to a parental expectation or their friends expectations is a great concern. But is that really the biggest concern that our students have?
The reoccurring theme was that my students are concerned for their parents. Unfortunately, we live in a day when students are seeing their parents drunk, high, entertaining overnight guests (nice way to put it), and otherwise putting many things above parenting. I have had students who have bagged drugs for mama’s boyfriend. I have had students not shocked when a parent’s bad habits resulted in tragedy.
Amazing. Unbelievable. This is backwards like my title to this article. How can we help?
As caring adults we can listen. Reach out to struggling teens and children knowing that they just want someone to listen and care. They don’t want the stress of having to worry if mom or dad is coming home or will come home drunk or will be drunk after being home for awhile and the yelling will begin.
Our students today are bright and want a better life. They want to please their parents, but many parents must realize that your child will turn out most of the time just like them. That is staggering but needs to be a wake up call.
But what about all those other issues? They were mentioned many times. As a teacher, I have found that one caring adult can make the difference when it comes to all the other issues listed above.
Our children are the future. As a teacher, I feel good about that. As a follower of Jesus Christ, my husband and I realized early on that our children watched what we did more than they listened to what we said. If we wanted them to have faith in God as the foundation of everything, we needed to show them that we lived that way. As mentioned earlier, students most of the time become like our parents, but one caring adult can make a difference. We must work to be that adult in children’s lives that we can influence.