Someone needs you. Actually, a whole generation needs you. A generation of young people that, according to experts, faces influences and pressures that are different from those any previous generation has faced.
Teens especially deal daily with life-and-death issues. Like school shootings, street violence, drugs, sexual pressure, alcohol, suicide. Sometimes their families have difficulty helping these teens. Or don't help them. So their community family - and their worldwide family - also need to offer support. And that's where you and I come in. That's where we all can practice parenting skills.
The best parenting, of course, goes way beyond providing food, clothing, and shelter. It recognizes God as the divine Parent of everyone. And it expresses God, perfect Principle, who is constantly fathering and mothering every child with absolute authority. With incomparable love. With irresistible intelligence and unending patience.
Since each of us is actually God's spiritual reflection, we naturally mirror His/Her parenting. And today's world offers us many special ways to care for, and about, young people, whether we're biological parents or not.
Friends, relatives, teachers, church congregations, coaches, businesses, for instance, can do so much for young people. They can provide what "America's Promise - The Alliance for Youth" says children need so much: "ongoing relationships with caring adults."
Fred Weiner would agree. As a thirteen-year-old, he and some friends killed a man during a robbery. For this, he spent five years in prison. Now, 18 years later, he has turned his life around. In a CNN interview recently, Mr. Weiner said that kids desperately need someone to talk to. Someone who will listen to their concerns. He believes this kind of mentoring can help children find the good in themselves. "If we can scrape away some of this baggage and expand on that good in all of us and start building some self-esteem, maybe we can find something within us to motivate ourselves ...."
In their book "Parenting Teens with Love & Logic," Foster Cline and Jim Fay say something similar. Parenting involves helping children develop an "internal 'voice' of their own," they say. This voice helps them think rightly (Pg. 33).
All this points to what helps to make an effective parent - biological or not: recognition of a child's fundamental goodness. But how do you see the good in what looks like a bad kid?
This is just the kind of question Mara Judy-Burghard - recently named the Outstanding Senior High Educator for her school district in Columbia, Missouri - faces every day. She teaches "at-risk" students who struggle with low self-esteem, low grades, behavioral problems. Some call them "throwaway kids."
"We can't afford to throw away children," she said shortly after she won her award. "We need to support them mentally, spiritually, financially." She does this by responding to what she calls her "daily challenge": to see God as the real Mother and Father of each one of her students.
When you see people as children of infinitely perfect Love, things start happening to you and them. You believe in their spirituality, their inner "voice." You believe they can make a turnaround, even in horrific situations.
Many people identify the inner voice of good as the Christ. Mary Baker Eddy described Christ as "the true idea voicing good, the divine message from God to men speaking to the human consciousness" ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," Pg. 332).
This Christ message comes constantly to each one of God's children. This message brings natural goodness to the surface and removes the belief that anyone is irredeemable. It removes the belief in an opposite to God. It destroys evil.
God's Christ is with you in your parenting, at work in the children you're helping - and in you. That's why you can only succeed. The great Parent of us all will see to that!