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From a concerned PaPa

Published: Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2012 1:58 p.m. CDT • Updated: Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2012 1:59 p.m. CDT

The shooting that occurred last Friday in Connecticut touched my heart more than any other recent tragedy of this type. This time young children were intentionally targeted. I am not trying to ignore the fine teachers and staff that gave their lives valiantly trying to save these children; my heart grieves for them also, but I want to talk about the children.

These kindergarten children, someone’s child and grandchild, were an intentional target? Even by someone with a mental issue, isn’t it unthinkable? These young children have not even been exposed to hate, violence and the prejudice that is usually associated in some way with these atrocities. That is what really made this act especially hard for me to comprehend. This was not random but planned.

Here is what I believe has reflection on this horrific event:

Parents have a challenging environment raising children today. When we grew up, TV was “Mayberry RFD,” “Father Knows Best,” Leave it to Beaver” and the most violent — “Gunsmoke.” I was once in my brother’s home, and his early teen boys were playing a video game, very graphic violence, which showed no respect for any human life. I told him I thought it was a bad choice. He said, “We watched ‘Gunsmoke’ when we were kids, and that was violent.” Really? There was a good guy, a bad guy and almost always a positive message where evil was defeated. That was the extent of our violence!  

Today, other TV sitcoms show little respect for family, Christian principles or what we would have expected as simply proper behavior. Wars are extenuated by graphic coverage with reporters standing in the middle of it. If someone says this exposure to violence makes no difference in children, I would ask, are you sure? Does it serve a positive purpose in child development? 

Like many of you, we have grown children and young grandchildren, and we are extremely blessed. They spend time with their kids, read to them, and tuck them in at night. Frankly, much better than I ever remember doing myself! They do not allow them to watch TV unsupervised, and they own no violent games. They limit their time on computers and electronic games. They try to teach them to be respectful of others and to be social, and most importantly, pray together. Regardless whether you agree on content, I ask that grandparents and parents remember that no electronic game, movie, television show can replace spending positive listening time with kids. Grandparents can be a big part listening.

I recently watched an interview where a child was asked about what they remembered about their grandparents. The answer was simply: “I was always surprised by how happy they were to see me when I arrived!” Wow! I could relate! Honestly I had forgotten that from my own life. I am working to be better at it.   

We will have a heavy heart this Christmas for all those families in Connecticut. Please remember them in your prayers.  

Joel Fossum

Princeton

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