The other day some of my big kids took my little kids to the park. This is one of the benefits of having so many kids. There are kids who can drive, who enjoy taking little kids to the park or the trampoline park or on playdates.

Anyway, the kids arrived at the park to find they were the only ones at the playground. It was great for a while. The little kids laughed and played. They ran from swings to slides. The older kids took turns pushing the kids on swings or chatting with each other. A couple of other families joined in the fun when they brought their children to play. The little kids were playing together. Our older kids interacted with the other adults.

And then, it all changed. All of a sudden a group of older teens arrived at the park. They climbed up on the children’s play equipment and chased off the little kids. They made fun of my 15-year-old daughter with special needs. They were verbally aggressive to everyone. One parent stated that she was calling the police.

My kids have been taught how to respond in situations like this. Unfortunately, some of our kids don’t have the social awareness to realize that this could be a problem situation. It would not occur to them that these older teens might do more than just argue and use bad language. So, we’ve told them that if things get awkward, they are always to be safe and leave. So, they did. The older kids herded the little kids to the van and they all came home.

What I can’t understand is why a group of teenagers can’t find a better place to hang out than a children’s playground. I can’t understand how they think it’s okay to make fun of a special-needs child who is years younger than they are. I can’t understand what part of being mean to little kids makes them bigger or better in any way.

It scares me for our future. If people of any age cannot be kind to people of other ages, we have no future. If we are mean to those who aren’t exactly like we are, then we have no future. If we think it’s okay to demean people who are different or struggling, then we have no future.

We need to educate our children. We need to expose them to younger children, adults, and elderly adults. We need to teach them that the world does not revolve around them, but instead, the world is made up of many different types of people. And, with all of our differences, the world becomes a better place – a place with many layers of personality and experience. We need to teach our children how to be compassionate and kind.

Because the one thing we don’t need in our world is one more hard hearted sole. All people have value, no matter who they are. Let’s help our children to never forget that fact. t

Rev. Kelly Crenshaw is the mom of 16 adopted kids, two biological kids, guardian of one baby girl and foster mom of dozens. Some are lesbian, some gay, some straight, and some bisexual. Kelly founded a K-12 day school where kids could have a safe, bully-free environment for learning. She is co-owner of a counselling agency that works with children and their families.

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Rev. Kelly Crenshaw
Rev. Kelly Crenshaw
Rev. Kelly Crenshaw is the mom of 16 adopted kids, 2 biological kids, Guardian of one adorable toddler, and has been the foster mom of dozens. Some are lesbian, some gay, some straight, and some bisexual. Kelly founded a K-12 day school where kids could have a safe, bully-free environment for learning. She has worked with kids in the foster care system for over two decades, actively advocating for all kids, but especially those in the LGBT community. And, in her spare time, she can be found preaching in some of our area’s most LGBT-friendly churches. Feel free to send your parenting questions to her at Pastor.Kelly@comcast.net.
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