To my dear children,
With a heavy heart, I sit down to write this letter in the wake of the school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in Florida. I realize that I can no longer pretend that school shootings are not a reality.
School shootings are a reality.
As your Mother, I want nothing more than to protect you from danger. Because I can’t be with you every second of every day, I am writing this letter to start a conversation about awareness. Being prepared with knowledge in an uncertain situation gives us a sense of security, and some control while facing the uncontrollable.
I ask that you read this thoroughly. Many times. And ask me any questions that come up. I promise to answer them to the best of my ability.
Stay aware of your surroundings.
I know in your generation of technology and connectedness, it’s hard to look away from your screens. However, with the increasing number of mass shootings and school shootings, it is imperative to remain aware of what’s unfolding around you in the real world.
I don’t mean to frighten you, or tell you that you cannot enjoy being a kid. Just promise to look up once in a while. Not only to spot possible danger, but to also practice gratitude for the precious things life brings you. Your friends, family, experiences, and time are all things to be cherished. These are things that every child who lost their life in a school shooting has been prematurely robbed of.
You not only need to look out for yourselves, but others as well. We live in a “me, myself, and I” society. Acknowledging the well-being and importance of others is crucial for creating a less violent future for your generation. If you see or hear anything that makes you uneasy, say something. Whether you believe it to be a real threat or just a joke, tell someone immediately. Talking about using or having guns, and harming oneself and/or others needs to be taken seriously. We are often only given one chance to stop a tragic situation from unfolding. Don’t be afraid to speak up and tell a trusted adult about your concerns. It may be the difference between life and death.
Be kind to others.
Bullying is never ok. Don’t do it, and don’t accept it being done to yourselves or anyone else.
Violent behavior is never ok. Don’t tolerate it. Ever. Don’t get involved, but tell an adult or call the police immediately.
Don’t let peer pressure dictate your decisions. I know this is tough, but it is so important. Your job is not to please and impress others, but rather to stand up for what you believe in. Be your amazing selves and always do your best to make wise decisions.
You matter and I love you unconditionally.
Never, and I mean never forget your worth in this world! Your worth does not change because of the opinions of others. It isn’t determined by the clothes you wear, the way you look, how many friends you have, your GPA, or any other external factors. And neither is anyone else’s. We all matter, and we all deserve to be treated like we matter.
Always know that my love for you is unconditional and unending. You are my kids, and you are the most important humans in my life. Nothing you could ever do could change that.
I have a job as your Mother.
I wish that I could protect you from all of the unknowns in this unpredictable world we live in. But that’s not my job. My job is to teach you how to navigate all of the twists and turns on your own. Some days, I feel successful at my job. Other days, I’m overwhelmed by fear that no matter what I say or do, it will never be enough. Because the cold, hard truth is that it won’t be enough.
There are things in life that you can never fully prepare for. There are things that you have to learn on your own. Having awareness, common sense, integrity, and love definitely make navigating life a little smoother. People you can trust and count on is another vital element to living well. Know that you can always come to me with anything you need to talk about. I am here to support you 100%.
The reality of school shootings is frightening, but the last thing I want is for you to live your childhood in fear. I didn’t write this letter with that intention. I wrote it to open up a line of communication on a very serious subject. Any feelings it has evoked in you are completely valid. And now it’s your turn to talk to me about any concerns or questions you have about school shootings. I know it’s scary, but I promise to address them all to the best of my ability.