My friend is a female minister. Several years ago, she managed a shelter in Kansas City which housed abused women and their children. When my son was in his late teens I decided to introduce him to these broken families.
Although many of my friends disagreed, it was a pleasant experience. Primarily, my son played with the children and shared meals with them. As time went on, I learned that the children talked and shared their feelings with each other. Some missed their fathers, others were afraid and upset that their parents were angry with each other.
When our week was over, my son and I returned home and we had plenty to talk about. Like adults, there were the children my son liked and those he was unsure of. He sympathized with those who were hurting and had little patience with those who seemed to use the occasion to make trouble. He was generally upset that the families were broken. He kept asking questions about when the families would go back home.
Over the next few weeks, we had many discussions about the families we had met and several times he begged me to call my friend for information. When I finally spoke to my friend again the families we had met had moved on. One family had reunited and the other two had taken separate paths. My son rejoiced at their choices and felt that under the circumstances, each had made a good decision.
I was pleased with my decision to acquaint my son with the families’ situations. And I was happy to have him learn the way people made decisions and how they had to live with them afterwards. I noticed the careful way he listened to people’s problems and the way he thought through them before he made a decision. I was especially pleased at how often he was willing to seek advice from a wiser family member or friends.
I was aware that many of my friends were afraid that my son would learn too much for his age. But I wanted him to understand about people and how they had to deal with problems whether they were ready for them or not. And it was important for him to understand that very often your problems were with people that you loved.
I’m still concerned with broken families and I hope that someday we will find a more helpful and compassionate way to deal with them. I wish there was some way we could turn people away from violence as little children, so that it would no longer be a problem.
With every generation we find new ways to accommodate old problems. Here’s hoping for new successes.