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The Cost of Parenting

Being a parent today is very costly. Family life continuously seems to be under siege. We seem to be at war with each other. Parents don't support other parents. In some circumstances, parenting does not ...

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Being a parent today is very costly. Family life continuously seems to be under siege. We seem to be at war with each other. Parents don't support other parents. In some circumstances, parenting does not seem to be a priority.

Parenting today is a full time job. If you are parenting teenagers, every day seems like a battle and your life seems like a war zone. Our children are being bombarded with one challenging choice after another.

As parents, where does one draw the line? What should the rules be? How do we hold our children accountable without causing a rift that seems unbridgeable?

KT is seventeen and the oldest of three children in a blended family. His birth mother died of cancer when he was three. His father raised KT alone until he was twelve. KT's father then married his present wife who had two children, a boy and a girl. Her children love their stepdad and are very cooperative. KT and his stepbrother get along very well. KT hates his stepsister and despises his stepmother.

KT's father confirms that his wife is a very reasonable and even-tempered wife and mother. No matter what she does or says, it is not good enough for KT.

Recently, during one of his tirades, KT announced that he had no intention of abiding by any house rules. He feels at his age, he should be able to come and go as he pleases.

The tension is escalating because KT respects no boundaries. His room is off limits to everyone in the family, including both parents. However, he feels he should have access to anyone's room, whenever. At will, he breaks into his parents' room and goes through their things. When confronted, he becomes arrogant and self-righteous, almost implying that it is his right to do as he pleases.

He crossed over the line and took the family car for a joy ride in the middle of the night. When he returned, he was confronted. He told his Dad to lighten up, that it was not a big deal. He brought it home in one piece with no dents or scratches. He showed no remorse or intent not to do it again.

Clearly, there are many issues operating in his life. KT's Dad confesses that he never held KT accountable. He admits to letting him run wild with the hope that it was just a phase he would grow through.

KT is growing, but not through it. He is getting worse. Each day is ripping the heart out of his family. Dad has to hold him accountable, if he doesn't he runs the risk of KT not only destroying the family, but himself as well.

As the war continues to rage in Iraq, innocent men and women on both sides continue to lose their lives. The cost of the war on every level is yet to be fully realized.

If you have children at any age, what do you say? How do you engage them? If you believe the war is unjust, how do you speak about that, show respect for our armed services and show respect for our nation?

We all want peace, and we want it now. The conflict erupts in talking about how to achieve that peace. However, it would be a powerful start if we could at least begin these conversations and not be threatened by differences of opinion. We need to be more educated on all sides of this issue. We need to take a position based on our belief system and know that it will be respected.

It is hypocritical to advocate for "Peace Now" and provoke violence while carrying a plaque card that says "Give Peace A Chance." It is equally hypocritical to dismiss those who are against the war in Iraq as being un-American and not supportive of our troops.

Our nation is founded on freedom of speech. That freedom must be respected and protected. It is disturbing when people differ on almost anything that it often deteriorates into ad hominum attacks and senseless tirades putting others down. Diversity is what makes our nation great. We need to build on that.

No matter what one's position might be on the War, there is probably not one American who was not moved by the heroism of that Iraqi lawyer who walked six miles to the nearest group of soldiers to let them know of the condition of Private Lynch, who was a POW allegedly being abused in an Iraqi hospital being used as a cover by Iraqi troops.

That courageous Iraqi lawyer was asked to go back and gather all kinds of information so that our troops could rescue Private Lynch. That meant walking six miles back into potential danger and another six miles to return. He did that. And why? Because of human compassion. Compassion that is sadly lacking in our world and at times within our own community.

Too often we are compassionate as long as it does not cost anything. Real compassion always has a cost. It demands that we risk. Our Iraqi brother risked not only his life, but also the safety of his wife and daughter, for one of our own.

Thanks to his compassion, a nineteen-year-old private from West Virginia will probably fully recover from her serious injuries and get the chance to become the kindergarten teacher she dreamed of becoming. All because one stranger cared enough to risk his life for another stranger.

In this time of crisis, we need to be challenged to move outside ourselves and become more compassionate and respectful of others. Materially, we have always been generous. Sometimes it's easier to give a few extra dollars to worthy causes. How many of us would be willing to give our time?

Simple acts of kindness and compassion are what will change the world. The large number of American soldiers fighting in Iraq are eighteen, nineteen and twenty year old kids. They are no different than the kids who gather in lower Port every weekend. They are no different than the students who sit in my classes at St. Joseph's and Suffolk Community.

How hard it must be for them to be where they are. What about writing them a letter? When they come home and leave the military, what supports will be in place for their mental and emotional health? We must not repeat the benign neglect that was operational when our courageous men and women returned from Viet Nam. Thirty years later, many of my peers still suffer and search for healing. We need to work on these issues now, not later. They cost. Are we willing to pay the price? As parents, we must demand that our young men and women are protected and supported in every way possible when they come home.