“When I need to get home,
you're my guiding light,
you're my guiding light.”
– Foy Vance
It was almost one o’clock a.m. when my plane landed. I felt anxious. It was only my second time flying back to my new “home”, a city that contained one of the busiest airports in America. I reminded myself that the hosts of the speaking event I just attended were aware of my travel anxieties and poor sense of direction. They kindly arranged a transportation company to retrieve me from the airport and take me home. I managed the airport shuttle without trouble and felt certain I was getting off at the right stop. But when I went to the top of the escalators, my ride was not there. I felt my chest tighten, my pulse quicken. I looked around and saw a vast hallway quickly emptying as people hurried off to their destinations.
I fumbled for my phone. I called the transportation company and said I could not find my ride. They instructed me to find the Delta terminal, walk outside, go down a ramp, and look for the area where cars were idling. I told them I did not see any Delta signs and was not familiar with the airport. “Could the driver please come to me instead?” I asked, trying to keep my emotions in check. They put me in touch with him. The way he spoke to me was rude, condescending, and not helpful at all.
I stood in the middle of the massive airport deciding if I should walk outside in the darkness, unsure of where I was going, or stay put. With shaky hands, I wiped the tears falling from my eyes. I didn’t know what to do.
“I see you are troubled. Can I help you?” a uniformed driver waiting for his client said in a beautiful accent.
When I explained what happened, he offered to talk to the driver. As he waited for the man to answer his phone, he reassuringly said, “Don’t worry, I will help you.”
In a firm but respectful tone, my new friend repeatedly told the driver he needed to come inside and retrieve me. Within a few minutes, the man showed up. I did not leave without asking my friend his name, shaking his hand, and requesting his business card so I could use his company for all future transportation needs. I could not leave without telling Emmanuel he was my angel. He had provided light in my time of darkness.
I am not sure I would have thought about that troubling experience had it not been for my recent trip to Indiana to speak at the Indy Women’s Expo. Just like last time, my flight landed after midnight. The event hosts had kindly arranged my ride home. But this time, a familiar face was waiting for me when I got off the escalator. Out of all the drivers who worked for this transportation company, my friend, Emmanuel, happened to the one driving me home.
It wasn’t until we got in the car that I felt brave enough to speak up. “I don’t know if you remember me, but a year ago you helped me when I was very much alone and confused. You were my angel.”
“Miss Rachel?” he exclaimed, his beautiful face breaking into an oversized grin. “Yes! Yes! I remember! But I just did what anyone would do.”
Emmanuel and I spent the rest of the drive talking about our families, the joys and challenges of technology, his family back in Ghana, and how providential it felt to be brought back together that night.
Although I was exhausted by the time I got into my bed, I laid there for an hour unable to sleep. While in Indianapolis, I’d met the loveliest blog readers—some of them driving from as far as Illinois and Ohio to be there. I’d played non-stop with my precious niece and nephews. I’d hugged a family member I hadn’t seen in twenty-five years. While I should have been happy, content, and hopeful, I was overcome with sadness.
Heavy on my heart were the children who didn’t leave the airport that night with someone who had their best interests in mind—including the ones used for unspeakable acts right there at the airport.
Heavy on my heart was the 13-year-old girl who climbed out her window to meet someone she met online, never to return home again.
Heavy on my heart was the young man who was violated by his teammates on the bus ride home from a sporting event.
Heavy on my heart was the child who feels like less and less each time she is snubbed, ostracized, and belittled online and in real life by her peers.
Heavy on my heart was the child who cannot stop looking at disturbing images online that make him feel ashamed, dirty, and worthless.
Heavy on my heart was the one who peers into the darkness debating whether she should go alone—the one believing there is no one to ask for help in her time of need.
What was given to me at the airport—comfort, assurance, security, and validation—should be given to all children, and the time is now. Exposure to life-altering people and life-altering content is held in their pocket, merely one click away. And although you will hear me advocate for Internet accountability/filtering software and active involvement in a child’s online activities, it is not enough. There must be pieces of internal protection given to our children again and again and again.
Three years ago, I gave my daughter a piece of internal protection. It was during a rash of cyber bully suicides and sexual violations of young women recorded on cell phones by classmates. I remember desperately wanting to protect my child from the dangers she faced when she stepped outside or into the online world. Because I knew that was not possible, I vowed to equip her with internal protection. The following letter was the beginning of an on-going conversation I have with my daughter—a tangible piece of proof she will never be alone in her darkest hour.
A 21st Century Lifeline to my dear child:
Technology has become an integral part of your life now that you need it to complete your schoolwork. Eventually you will start communicating with others online. Before that day comes, it is very important for me to tell you a few things. You will hear these words a lot from me—you might even get sick of them. But these reminders are important. When the time comes, you will know how important they are. When the time comes, these words will make all the difference. Here are my reminders to you …
Tomorrow holds promise.
When you have been teased, hurt, or humiliated, that day will seem horrible and unbearable. Just know that when you make it through the day, tomorrow you will see a new light. Tomorrow holds possibilities that you cannot see today. I will help you see the promises in tomorrow when you can’t.
My love for you cannot be changed.
With me, you don’t have to be strong. You can cry, scream, and let out your true feelings. My love for you cannot be changed by revealing the feelings going on inside you—no matter how hard they are to say out loud.
You are worthy of love.
You are worthy of love and respect and kindness. If people mistreat you, together we’ll figure out a way to help you work through those problems, move on, or distance yourself from them if needed.
I encourage you to find that one loyal and kind friend with which you can go through the school year. Don’t let societal standards fool you into believing this friend must be popular, good looking, or cool; at the end of the day, kindness is the most important quality to have in a friend and be in a friend.
You possess courage and strength.
If you have been humiliated or teased, facing certain people may seem impossible. But you have the courage and strength within you to show others they cannot hold you back from living your life.
It is about them, not you.
No matter how personal the attack, it is about them—their insecurities and their issues—not about you.
No one can change the way I see you.
No matter how humiliated you are and no matter how embarrassing it is to tell me what happened, when I look at you, I see my beautiful and amazing child. No one can change the way I see you.
Nothing is too bad to tell me.
You can come to me with anything—even if you made a mistake, even if you used bad judgment. There is nothing that is “too bad” to tell me. Believe me, I have made plenty of mistakes and even though it was hard to let someone else in, I was so relieved not to carry the burden alone.
Let an adult know.
If your gut tells you what someone is doing to someone else is wrong, it probably is. Letting an adult know about someone who is being harmed or mistreated does not make you a coward—it makes you courageous and compassionate; it makes you a good friend who can look back on this later in life and proudly say, “I didn’t turn the other cheek. I tried to help.”
If you are the one being hurt, mistreated, or violated, tell an adult; do not suffer alone. Even if it is embarrassing … or unbelievable … or risky to tell someone; do not remain silent. Come to me or someone you trust immediately.
You are never alone.
I cannot make your problems and pain go away, but I can listen. And together we can come up with a solution. There is nothing we can’t get through together. You are never, never alone.
I love you forever and always.
[From my book, Hands Free Life]
My friends, if you are considering giving your child a valentine on February 14th, please consider making it a piece of internal protection. In my second book, I refer to this type of soul-building message as a 21st Century Lifeline and this is why:
A lifeline is something that can pull you back when you get too far away.
A lifeline is something you can hold on to when peer pressure is demanding you go the wrong way.
A lifeline is something that helps you be brave and say, “Something terrible happened to me.”
A lifeline is proof that somebody loves you and accepts you no matter what the world says.
A lifeline is something that keeps your head above water when it feels like it might be easier to just go under.
The 21st century lifeline contained in this blog post is for you to use as your own. My greatest hope is that my words will be given to a child this week. Feel free to use every single word. Feel free to use only the words that feel right to you. But please do not remain silent. Do not mistakenly assume the people you love know these things already. Do not mistakenly believe the people you love won’t find themselves in a troubling situation.
It is quite likely they will.
And when they find themselves standing there all alone, terrified to walk into the darkness, I pray it is your voice they hear.
“Don’t worry, I will help you,” they will remember you saying on Valentine’s Day 2016. And it will never mean more to them than it does right then.
In one instant, the worst moment in their life will not be the end.
In one instant, the worst moment in their life will be your chance to help them find their way home.
And you’ll be so thankful to be the one holding their hand as you walk toward the light.
Important note and valuable resources: Friends, this message is not just for young people. If you have never said words of acceptance and affirmation to your adult child, it is not too late. It is also not too late to apologize for not being there when you were needed. Also, this message is not just for people who have children in their home. Be a Noticer like my friend Emmanuel. See the young person with tearful eyes at your church, bagging your groceries, riding the subway, or being controlled by a domineering man at the airport. Kids in desperate situations are walking among us every single day. All it takes is one person to notice and say these hopeful words, “You look troubled. Can I help?”
Here are six life-changing resources I hope everyone will take time to read or save to read later:
1) 7 ways to spot that a person is being trafficked and what to do to help. (Note the average age is 11.)
2) This article from the FBI details signs your child might be at risk online and what to do to minimize the chances of an online exploiter victimizing your child.
3) 9 Most Dangerous Apps for Kids
4) How Pornography Harms Children
5) How Good Parents Miss Sexual Abuse & Five Questions to Change That
6) Parenting in the Digital Age. This is a FREE online series hosted by author and family therapist Susan Stiffelman. Speakers include myself, Byron Katie, Alanis Morissette, Dr. Dan Siegel, Dr. Victoria Dunckley, Glennon Doyle Melton, and a host of other writers, teachers, and experts in the field. Click here to see the critical topics experts will discuss and to sign up.
For those who are new here, the 21st century lifeline contained in this post came from my 2nd book, HANDS FREE LIFE, which dedicates several chapters to protecting our loved ones online. The book also reveals nine daily habits you can do today to create strong, loving, and communicative relationships despite our culture of distraction and overwhelm. In addition, I was recently interviewed on Focus on the Family about overcoming daily distractions to connect with our loved ones. If you are looking for small, daily steps to bring more presence, peace, and connection into your relationships, part 1 and part 2 of my interview hold many answers and a lot of hope. The interview begins at the 2:07 mark.
P.S. I wrote to Emmanuel’s employer to let the company know about his professionalism, kindness, and helpful actions. They said they would pass the compliment on to him as well as recognize his commendable actions in the company newspaper. Because the Hands Free Revolution community can be a mighty force for good, let’s carry on the kindness Emmanuel extended to me by looking for someone in need today and helping. You can start by sharing this post. I strongly believe this is the most important post I have ever written and feel certain there is someone in desperate need of these words today. Together, we can reach that hurting heart and prevent life-altering damage in others.
Oh Rachel, I am absolutely going to share this open letter with our children soon. I feel that we are raising them so that they honestly know that they are loved, but our oldest will be entering middle school soon – we need to equip both kids with these messages now. Thank you so much for all your insight and inspiration! XOXO!
This post reminds me of my favorite Veggie Tales song. “Think of me”
I love that your “angel” is named Emmanuel, truly a a gift from God…
Erin H. says
Yes, Laura…God with us, indeed.
Donna Raagas says
This was very good. I particularly appreciated the links at the end, which I did check out. A mother is certainly her child’s most natural lifeline, and moms have the AMAZING PRIVILEGE, as well as RESPONSIBILITY to keep their children emotionally and physically nurtured and safe.
For parents who have introduced their children to Jesus, I would recommend they urge their child to reread the 21st Century Lifeline and also substitute the name Jesus or God in place of the motherly ‘I’, and anywhere else appropriate because, however motivated our passion for our children is, we are NOT always going to be in a position to keep them out of harms way. But God sees all, He knows all, and He will never forsake anyone who trusts Him. He is the real Lifeline. For parents who have not introduced their children to Jesus, or don’t know Him yet themselves, I say from personal experience, “DO NOT DELAY”. That is one of the biggest mistakes I made when my children were growing up, and I would not neglect to teach them about the love of the Father at an early age if I had a chance to do it all over again.
Rachel, this is so beautifully written and as always right on target. I also loved hearing about your Angel Emanuel.
Rachel Stafford says
Thank you, Lea! I appreciate this so much.
Rachel, I LOVE all your posts but this one just hit me in the heart. Thank you thank you for always knowing what to say and how to say it. I am going to use your letter and I appreciate all the other sites to use! Thank you for all you do. I hope you know how much it means to me.
Rachel Stafford says
Thank you, Valerie. I knew this post would draw some criticisms, as usually the most important messages do, but they still hurt. Your beautiful comment lifted the pain I felt this morning from the harsh comments and confirmed that sharing this message was what I needed to do. Knowing you are going to use my words & the resources I provided was a true answer to prayer for me. Thank you!
Can I ask how old your daughter was when you wrote her this letter? It is hard to strike the balance between too much information and enough to keep them safe. At this stage, age 8, my daughter only uses the internet for homework occasionally and always with a parent by her side. I love your posts – they make me cry almost every time but you remind me that I have a second chance with my children (8 and 2) to be the mother they need.
Rachel Stafford says
Hi Jen – thank you for your lovely comment and great question. My daughter was 9 when I read this out loud to her and we often talk on a weekly basis about the things contained in the letter, even if it is just for a few minutes. So far, I am her safe haven and she tells me things she tells no one else. The other night after the 13 year old girl was murdered in VA, I took my younger daughter on a walk (she is now 9) and had this important “lifeline” conversation with her and talked about Nicole (the one who was killed). It was VERY hard to tell my little girl this as she less “worldly” as her older sister was at 9. However, I believe knowledge is power and protection. Since both of my girls DO get online and although we have protective software in place, they still might be exposed at other people’s homes or fall into other traps that predators use. Our children are not born with the knowledge to know how to navigate the harmful scenarios that may arise. Just like we teach them how to escape a fire, we must talk about these dangers before they happen so they will be prepared. That is what I believe. I think we can do it in age-appropriate language and in a loving way.
Thank you Jen for asking the age question. My daughter is also 8 and I was wondering if it was time yet. We have talked about so many things in trying to keep her safe and well but I know I have been deficient in certain areas in my desire to “protect” her as long as possible from some of these life truths. However, I think it’s time. Her school will be having a presentation in two weeks regarding some of these items…and I want her to be prepared. Thank you!
Thank you Rachel. I’ll be giving this to my children and sharing with all my friends and Facebook followers. What an important message well said.
Rachel Stafford says
I really appreciate this, Rachel. Thank you for being a source of goodness & hope in the world with these actions.
I’m not sure how this post could draw criticism. I’m just glad that you wrote it and shared it with us. I too, am planning on using the letter to my two boys, (9 and 7). Thank you!!
Rachel Stafford says
You would be surprised. 🙁
Rachel Stafford says
Thank you so much for passing this important message on to your precious ones!
beth lehman says
rachel… i live in the small college town you linked to. as a result of the tragedy here so many families are having conversations about their children’s online presence and it’s so important. we have had to step back and change our rules about what our own children can and cannot do online and the way we intend to check their devices routinely to monitor texts and personal messages sent through various apps. it can be overwhelming to monitor and tempting to trust that that our kids can handle their own ‘digital’ life. but we can’t take the risk that they can and without being vigilant we have no idea what they are consuming. thank you for this post, for the honest warnings here and links to such valuable information.
Dear Rachel, thank you, thank you, once again! I owe so much to you and your words. Thankfully, my youngest has never needed your words, but I will share them with her anyway, for the time that she might. UNfortunately, my oldest does need your words, now more than ever, and I will share them with her, as I’ve been trying to do in my own way for several years. As her bully is about to transfer back into her school, she’s going to need that inner strength. I hope your words can get help me get through to her that she’s not alone, that no one will change her amazingness, and that nothing is too horrible for her to unburden with me. Thank you for sharing, and for allowing us to share.
I don’t know how your comments can attract criticism, but being a public blogger and speaker, I’m sure you hear a lot that is unkind. I’m sorry. They can’t change YOUR amazingness. Your message is so important, and so necessary. Sometimes I think we become desensitized to internet safety, and sometimes when it’s overwhelming we want to shut it out. Thank you for the reminder that when it’s horrible is the time we MOST need to pay attention, and help. There are real people hurting, and we real people can do something about it.
Some day I hope to hear you speak in person. Thank you for your gift of words, Rachel!!
Jenny Johnston says
This is a hard topic for me because I tend to retreat away from learning about terrible news. I know I am too sensitive to the horrific things that go on in the world and so I protect myself from it. We do not have watch TV, listen to the radio or read the newspaper. We are not on Facebook. I still do not know what happened in Paris and I had not heard about the murdered 13 year old. I am naive when it comes to the terrors that exists out there. Years ago, when I was 18, I was in college in San Diego – living by myself in an apartment. I realized that I could not deal with emotional damage that I suffered after any exposure to the nightly news. I took it into my body and then could not release it. I have stayed away from all sources of news since then.
That makes it hard to share these really scary topics with my (homeschooled) children. They are 11 and 8 and do not know what murder, rape, sexual abuse, or human trafficking is. They do not have phones, tablets or access to a computer. I do not shelter them, they are in multiple activities outside of our home during the week, but they are not in a classroom for 6 hours a day so I think they just do not hear about a lot of this stuff. Bullying is something we talk about often…but the horrific things that happen in the world is not something I have talked to them about….One day my youngest asked why a person would come to school with a gun…we had a conversation about it, at her level of understanding…and that was the last I heard of it. maybe this is how I approach other topics of this nature??
I am going to reread this post and try to figure out how to gently bring up some of these topics – especially with my 11 year old. But, these topics are difficult for me and I turn 40 next week! What does an 11 year old and 8 year old do with this scary information??? (especially my 8 year old who has had serious anxiety issues in the past) I wonder if your friend Sandy (is that the parenting coach who helps you with comments??) has anything to say about this?
As always, thank you for your honestly in talking about things that are scary and uncomfortable for some of us to talk about.
Sandy Blackard says
Thank you for asking about me. Your comment tells me that you are a very compassionate person. You feel things deeply, so I am glad that you recognized your sensitivity and respected that. It is important to trust your self-preservation instincts and your instincts about what is right for your children.
That’s why when I heard you say that you find it really hard to bring up horrific things that happen in the world with your children, I wanted to say, “Trust that!” It would never feel right to you to sit your children down and say, “The world is a scary place. Here are some of the terrible things going on out there…,” especially at 8 and 11.
Instead, you can follow Rachel’s advice — “equip your children with internal protection” that they can use no matter what situations they encounter in life. And as your instincts tell you, let them bring their concerns to you now while they are still young and under close supervision, and trust that you will know when you need to inform them of greater potential threats and how to stay safe on their own.
One of the most important internal protections you can give children is the gift of self-trust. To help them gain that, you can use “success training” by showing them how they already are observant and can trust their instincts about other people. Watch how they are around strangers or in different situations. When they seem comfortable in a familiar, public place with other people in it, point out the cues they are unconsciously using — that everything is as expected and that not only are you there to keep them safe, but you and the other people are comfortable.
Then when they are uncomfortable in a new place or around a new person who looks scary to them or acts in unexpected ways, notice the cues they are using there, and later when it’s appropriate to do so, point out why being on guard was important and would be until they gathered enough information from you or other trusted sources to feel comfortable again. Point out the difference in their reactions to those two situations, and tell them that shows they are observant without even trying and that they can trust their instincts. Noticing this difference will be a comfort to them and also to you.
And reinforce their self-trust regularly by simply SAYing WHAT YOU SEE (SWYS)*. It could sound like this:
Child: “That person seems scary.”
SWYS: “You probably noticed something about him/her that didn’t seem right.”
Child: “He/she just stares at me when I walk by, so I walk on the other side of the street.”
SWYS: “Staring doesn’t feel right, so you stay away. Sounds like you know to trust your instincts. And you told me about it. You know how to stay safe!”
And Rachel has given all of us another great way to equip our children with internal protection without having to share information that would scare them — her list of reminders. You can hand it to them as a letter and/or use it as a set of conversation starters.
For example, if you read her first reminder with your children, “Tomorrow holds promise,” and pause to see what thoughts or questions they have, they might tell you more about their thoughts and feelings about bullying, or ask you why someone might not see the promises in tomorrow. You might find out that an idea like that is surprising to them, or that they know someone who feels like giving up, or that at some point they have felt like giving up. Then you can talk about how it might feel to know that you (or if it doesn’t yet apply to your children, that someone) would be there to help them “see the promises in tomorrow” even if they were not able to, as the reminder says.
When you consider the impact of reading and discussing one reminder together each day or evening, you will see how your conversations could deepen as you go along. And if you do that again every 6 months or so, it could help you keep a pulse on their growing awareness of the world, their concerns, and what they need to hear from you to stay safe and feel secure.
And lastly, I want to point out that you have already provided your children with some important internal protection. For your youngest to ask you why a person would bring a gun to school, when she probably knows you are sensitive about scary things, tells me that she trusts you and feels safe in her relationship with you. A strong relationship tells children you are there for them and that they are never alone, which is the most important reminder of all, and of course the final note in Rachel’s list.
I hope this helps you feel more confident about what to do. And if you would like to read more about how to SAY WHAT YOU SEE to bring out your children’s strengths, you can find my little online book here: http://www.languageoflistening.com/resources/read-swys-book
Jenny Johnston says
Thank you Sandy, for the very thorough and INCREDIBLY helpful suggestions. I actually breathed a sigh of relief that I am allowed to shield myself! I am too hard on myself sometimes regarding that. I have printed out this comment and plan to look for even more ways to acknowledge my girls own sense of good and not so good that are out there. Thank you so much for taking time to respond to my concerns. And I have spent much time on your website. Thank you for making your resource free so that others can find it and put it into practice. There is so much more good out in the world when we look for it!
Sandy Blackard says
You are very welcome. It means a lot to me to hear that my suggestions were helpful. Rachel has encouraged me to share them on my blog to help other parents with similar concerns. So thank you for sharing your concerns and starting some new ripples of good that will be sent out into the world for others to find.
Of course as I was reading and savoring every word, my mind was already thinking how I could relay this letter to my tweens. Thank you for permission to use it. Every post is a gift I treasure, learn, and grow from.
Rachel, I become so fearful sometimes as I look ahead and into my twin nearly 11yo boy’s future. I am not at all tech savvy – a Luddite, in truth – and I see no way to protect them from social media as they grow older. This piece helps very much.
I wonder how we balance protecting their childhoods, giving them the innocence they deserve, with showing them the absolute and nearly constant evil and sin that surrounds us? Sometimes I feel like modern technology has absolutely stripped today’s children of a simple, innocent and sweet childhood.
God’s Peace, Rachel. You shine so, thank you.
…cont.’d. I fell in love with an older boy, who said he loved me. Out of all the girls who thought he was cool and chased after him, I was the one he chose. I used to sneak out to meet him very late at night. I didn’t know it then, but most of those times he was either drink, high or both. He was troubled, no doubt. He raped me. I never, ever told one single person until I was 21 years old. My path had been rough since then, and it took all those years to find help–professional–and an adult who wanted to listen. To talk. To me. My sons will receive a letter and more; and they do, everyday. BE the one who tries, who teaches out, who protects, lives unconditionally. Be the one who cares. So much could have been avoided had I had ONE single adult that reached out to me. I walked my young path alone, for years. Out there, an attractive, naive but cool-acting girl who hid her fear and pain until it would no longer be contained. Thank you for all your articles and compelling me to share this agonizing memory. This message must be heard by ALL adults, especially in this age of technology–which didn’t exist when I was robbed of my “self” when I was just 13 years old.
Rachel Stafford says
Thank you, Chris, for bravely sharing this heartbreaking experience so we can be enlightened about what burdens our children might be carrying beneath the smile if we do not consistently reach out, open the conversation, and express unconditional love. You have helped someone today. I am certain of that. Praying for peace and healing in your heart, dear one.
Denise Purtle says
Thank you for sharing all this information with us. We are in the process of Trying to figure out ways to protect my daughter from the internet. I love your letter and want to use it. I’ve given her a relationship with God but want to give her more. I believe you’ve given me the piece thats missing. I will continue to read your messages. Everyone needs guidance.
I heard your interview on focus on the family and it was amazing!!! Thank you for sharing and being so vulnerable so we can be encouraged and learn!
This was inspirational for me in order to pray. I started thinking about how God would say those words to all of His children, and then, one of your links really stood out to me for prayer. I am so grateful that you have written those words and provided those links. May you be blessed.
Rachel Stafford says
Thank you for letting me know how this spoke to you. I certainly felt divine presence as I wrote it. Blessings to you, as well.
Thank you for these words! This note will be going in my 17 year old and 10 year old’s Valentine’s card! You are right in that we think our children know these things but it is powerful to have these words to hold onto.
Rachel Stafford says
THANK YOU, Jennifer! You just made my entire week!
Katrina Henderson says
I’m sharing this Lifeline with 3 of my children today (ages 12, 9, and 7, going to hang onto it for the 3 year old down the road). Thank you for giving me the words and helping me come up with a meaningful Valentine’s gift that will hopefully impact them in the future. I always love reading your posts!
Melissa Culp says
Rachel, thank you so much for this post. My sons are 4 and 5 months. I know that there is a lot they will have to face as they grow-up. I want to prepare them and give them the right tools for life. I appreciate the resource links that you have.
Also, I heard a song on the radio the other day that made me think of the HandsFree movement. It’s called “Breathe” by Jonny Diaz. If you haven’t heard it, then you should listen to it on YouTube. Stumbling upon your books and blog after the birth of my second son was really timely for me. Thanks for using your gift of writing in this way.
John S Green says
Your roots of courage and encouragement keep growing longer, wider and stronger! The Hands Free Tree continues to spread throughout the universe of humaneness. Thank you.
Rachel Stafford says
That means a lot to me! As someone I admire & respect greatly, I cherish your support & affirmation.
Marissa Smith says
I could not get through your letter without stopping 3 times to wipe my eyes! Very hepful, insightful and powerful! This is just what I needed to read to not have fear, but instead a POWERFUL PLAN for what lies ahead for me and my 8 & 9 year old boys. Thank you endlessly for your work and commitment to others. Heard you on Focus this morning and I’m so glad I tuned in!!!!
Where to begin….I just finished your book, the 9 Habits book, and loved every single page of it. It flowed so easily and I could not put it down. I was sad to finish it. I was ecstatic to learn you had a blog and I’m slowly working my way through all of your posts. I’m a momma to a 2 year old boy and hopefully another little one in the near future. I am so beyond terrified of him being hurt at school or kidnapped or all of the million things us mommas worry about. The letter you wrote to your child that you included here spoke to me when I read it in the book. I told my husband I am photocopying this and giving it to each of our kids when they’re old enough to understand it even it it’s 5 years from now. I haven’t returned the book to the library yet because I haven’t copied it yet but now I don’t have to! I’m so happy to have run across it here on the blog. I read the links of what was making your heart heavy and I was appalled. I will not let my son ride a school bus someday for exactly what happened to those boys. Older children do not need unsupervised access to younger children that aren’t their siblings plain and simple. And my god the girl being abducted from her front yard? That makes me shudder. You sound like a wonderful person and a wonderful mother and I’m going to get your other book as well and continue following your blog. I think you’re a great resource for those of us struggling how to raise children in today’s craziness so thank you!
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