An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Who will reach out to my kids?

  • Published
  • By Laura McGowan
  • Aeronautical Systems Center Public Affairs
The Department of Defense's theme for this year's African American/Black History Month is "Reaching out to youth: A strategy for excellence." I like that theme, because it's targeting the resources of the future - our kids.

Having said that, I will quote Mr. Elie Wiesel, a Jew who was deported by the Nazis to Auschwitz with his family in 1928 when he was a teenager. He is currently the Andrew W. Mellon Professor in Humanities at Boston University.

"The opposite of love is not hate, it's indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it's indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it's indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it's indifference."

I don't think people intend to be indifferent. I think it just happens. The schedules of their hurried lives don't lend to having time to reach out to their own kids, let alone somebody else's kids. How do I know?

Well, since December 2000, I've been a single parent. My son is now 19 and recently married and my daughter is 13. After their dad left us in 1999, my life as a stay-at-home, work-part-time-as-a-college-instructor, PTA-president-mom life ended abruptly. I didn't have much time to sit back and take a breath, because my children immediately spiraled, acting out their hurt and fear of not having their dad with them-my 14-year-old son exploded with anger and my 8-year-old daughter cried every day. People at church told us they were praying for us and family members were in different states.

I won't go into the whole teary-eyed story, but the bottom line is -everyone was so busy with their lives. They didn't mean to be indifferent. It just happened.

Some people feel they aren't qualified to mentor someone else. They may not feel smart enough, successful enough, the right race, etc. If you fall into that category, hear this. My kids could not have cared less about the color of your skin, what kind of car you drove or if you would buy them things. A regular e-mail or phone call just to talk to them or see how they were doing in school, home or sports would have brought a smile of encouragement.

Ask yourself a few questions:

1. Am I regularly involved in another child's life outside of my own family? Why not?

2. Do I know of a family that might appreciate making myself available to their child in a safe environment-school lunch time, homework help?

3. Do I have a hang-up if the child/family is of a different race?

4. Do I know a child who is interested in the same things my children are interested in, and can I include that child periodically in a scheduled event?

If you don't have a clue on where to start, contact your local Educational Outreach Office. Through their office you can find out how to be a Big Brother/Big Sister, a tutor, a job shadowing mentor, and they can give you ideas on how else you can touch the lives of our youth.

Who knows, you may touch the life of the next Rosa Parks, Chappie James, Paul Lawrence Dunbar, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., teacher, doctor, military leader, president of the United States or a wonderful-stay-at-home-PTA mom.