Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers. ~Charles W. Eliot

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Would you still love me if I...?

When our kids were younger, they used to ask the age-old question, "would you love me if...?" We were always quick to reassure them that nothing could ever diminish our love for each of them. We used all the standard responses like, "well, then we'd be disappointed in you but nothing could change our love for you" and ""If you did that, we'd be very angry but we'd still love you the same as always". Then the follow up; the true test: "But what if I did the absolute worst thing ever... what if I killed someone?" The good news there is that by asking the question, the child is demonstrating an understanding that this would be very wrong. Particular circumstances aside, I think it's fair, not to mention important, to reassure a child in this case that your love for them is unshakable. I also think it's fair, not to mention responsible, to use the opportunity to discuss how the consequences of one's actions can extend beyond themselves and their perceived victim. A person's bad acts may inadvertently shatter the world of the family that loves them.

If you're wondering how or why I came upon this heavy and somewhat depressing topic, I'd be happy to explain. I had a terrible headache today that just wouldn't let go and made it difficult for me to concentrate on my work. I decided to take a short break and picked up a book a publicist had told me about last week and sent over to my office so I could take a look. The book, Exposed by Kimberly Marcus, will be out next week. Read it!! This is a gripping story, told in verse, of two best friends, one of which accuses the other's brother of raping her. As the boy's parents rally behind him and the girl's parents rally behind her, the reader is focused on the sister and best friend whose life, as she knows it, is ripped apart. The perspective is fresh and the verse is surprisingly effective, making this an incredibly emotional and satisfying read. I don't want to give anything away because I want people to read this book. As parents, we are always looking for new ways to discuss issues with our children and as young adults, many of our children are looking to explore their complicated world in a non-threatening way. Books like this can help. For the second time since starting this blog, I will say that I believe this is a book that should be mandatory reading for every high school student in America and for their parents (I said the same thing about Daisy Whitney's The Mockingbirds in my 11-28-10 blog post). I, quite literally, couldn't put this book down. I had to keep reading until I was done; I had to find out how it would end. Now, hours later, I still can't get this story out of my head.

Like The Mockingbirds, Exposed reinforced my belief that books can be such an effective tool for bridging the gap between parents and teens. There are many topics we should be discussing with our kids and sometimes it's hard to get started or to think through the different perspectives. Books can help immeasurably.

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