We all know a lot of good people — caring people — in every age bracket. Most youngsters and young adults deserve praise and inspire pride. Parents want their children to grow up to be law-abiding, productive, good citizens. That said, the fact remains that we have a huge problem with crime — drugs, numerous murders, and these terrible mass killings (“2 Cities, 2 Days, 2 Shootings,”  Aug. 5).

Sick minds need to be treated earlier to avert some of these tragedies. But there are other reasons given for some of the shootings, like hate (“Violence fueled by hate,” Aug. 13.) Not to place blame in specific cases, but a twisted childhood, with too-busy parents, can contribute to the basic causes of crime.

Moral standards have changed over the years. It is not just us old-fashioned citizens who know this.  The concept of right and wrong has softened. Now, to some, “right” seems to mean anything you want it to mean, and it is “wrong” only if you get caught. Most still have high standards of course, but in the past it seems more folks did the right thing simply because that was what they believed in, not through fear.  Many of the children were brought up attending church, which helped boost parents’ efforts. The church family was a strong part of the “village” involved in raising children. Lack of concern for others, seemingly more common now, is a long way from “Love thy neighbor” and “Do unto others …” — hate is the step beyond lack of concern.

We need to do better — individually and as a society — to universally instill higher values in our youngsters. We might produce a more civilized world, in time.

We are not going back to the old days, when Mother stayed at home with the children and Father brought home the bacon. Yet I believe it was better for the child to be with his parents, to learn their values. Now a child may spend more time in school, day care and with babysitters than they do with their folks. Most such workers and teachers do a very good job, but it is not the same as being with Dad and Mom, soaking up parental values. The children’s loss needs to be addressed. Children need good examples to follow, and parents need to make sure they are setting good examples. We can be more likely to lessen hate in the world if we make sure our children do not learn it from us.

Think how it is now. Healthy play has been replaced with too much sedentary digital obsession and violence. Current heroes and heroines are a far cry from the good leaders young people need. Think of the low morals, portrayed as normal behavior on TV shows and in movies, that are “bringing them up.”  Think of the lyrics in their music. Youngsters are bombarded with these lower standards constantly. They see it as normal — the way life is — unless counteracted by watchful parents. If not trained otherwise, a child will grow up going after what he wants, and expressing hate, with little regard for how it affects others.

Again, I give credit to those who are doing their best in today’s world. But I would urge parents to spend more time with their children, of any age. Talk to them. Look for teaching moments. Find opportunities to discuss the examples of poor behavior the child sees on TV. Point out and discuss better choices and the reasons behind your beliefs.

You know what qualities you want to instill: compassion, respect and regard for others, good morals, honesty, perhaps lifelong faith — the list goes on. Help them to develop their conscience and to be guided by it. Remember that praise is a valuable reward for good behavior. Give them the praise and attention they need, or they will seek it elsewhere, too often dangerously.

Raising a child is not easy. It takes lots of work, unconditional love, constant learning, and a whole lot of sacrifice. It is about the hardest job you ever undertake, but at the same time it will be fulfilling. It will be one of the most important things you ever do — perhaps the most challenging and rewarding.

I know I am probably “preaching to the choir,”the people who least need to hear it. But our human society needs to become more civilized, to reach a higher plane than we have ever achieved. As long as there are people, there will be crime, but all of us should do our best to make sure our children are not the problem.

Improvement could start now, with us, one family at a time. We need to renew our efforts.  There could be unimaginable value to mankind. Maybe we could eventually all learn to get along.

Mavis Longfellow is an 89-year-old widow who lives in Manchester. She has six children, 14 grandchildren, and six great grandchildren. She was a  teacher for several years.


Comments are not available on this story.

Augusta and Waterville news

Get news and events from your towns in your inbox every Friday.


  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.