What we can learn from a horrific tragedy.

Parent and member of the Pacific Parent Association, Gary Barnum, writes his thoughts on turning a horrific tragedy into something positive.

As parents with kids in any school, we've begun a new year with the shadow of a horrific tragedy still fresh upon us. On December 14 of last year, a deranged young man disconnected himself from all sense of humanity and walked into Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, heavily armed -- and murdered 20 children and six adults in cold blood. As parents with kids in any school, this is not only heart wrenching, but it is among our worst nightmares.

This isn't the first time for this kind of tragedy. On April 20, 1999, two boys killed 12 students and one teacher at Columbine High School in Colorado. On April 16, 2007, a young man killed 32 at Virginia Tech. It's not less shocking every time it happens -- it's more so. It's shocking that anything like this would ever happen, but even more so that anyone would ever do it again.

This is not the kind of thing that we easily put behind us. It is a new year, and we look for new beginnings, putting aside the past with an optimistic outlook for a better future. We all know that experiences, no matter how good or bad, are an opportunity to learn. And learning helps us build for a better future.

We have to move forward. In moving forward, there are some positive things we can do. Get to know our children better, keep a closer eye on them, pay attention, be aware, be more involved, hug them more, love them better. These are not hard things to do. With kids in college, it may require a little more to keep in touch, but it is far worth any effort required. They may not tell you, and they may not express it, but your kids notice when you take an interest in what's going on in their lives. And though they may seem at times to resent it, they actually appreciate it. It makes a difference.

So call. Write. Visit. Skype. Face time. Facebook Chat. Send an unexpected gift in the mail that can be as simple as their favorite cookies or candy bar or a gift card to a coffee shop or grocery store.  Anything that lets them know you are thinking of them. Join the Parent's Association. Attend school functions. Be active. Show up. There are heartbroken parents out there who would give anything to have that opportunity. And your kids still need you. This is our chance for a new start. Let's resolve to make things better.

Posted by Angela Surratt (asurratt@pacificu.edu) on Jan 14, 2013 at 4:56 PM

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