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Rice: Parenting with love in uncertain times | Lifestyle | #parenting


When it’s time to write my column, I never know what it’s about until I sit down at the computer, usually at the last minute (thank you, ADHD). I keep notes constantly on various parenting subjects and sift through them until inspiration hits. But this time, for June’s column, I’ve racked my brain for days thinking about what to write for you because my heart is heavy.

In fact, I’m late getting this to my editor, so it probably won’t publish on time. The deadly shooting in Uvalde weighs heavy on my heart and mind. I have three adult children and 11 grandkids, so there’s not a day when I’m not thinking about this tragedy.

I’m tearing up as I write these words, stopping and starting rather than a continuous flow of thought. I don’t know what to say, how to say it, or if it’s the right time to say it. There are so many mothers, fathers, grandparents, and other families grieving that anything I have to say seems unimportant. I’m grieving, you’re grieving, our state and country are grieving. Even the world mourns for Uvalde.

I can’t imagine the horror of sending my child off to school and never seeing them again. I can’t imagine receiving the call from one of my children that a grandchild is gone. I don’t want to face the reality of this unimaginable violence. I’m sure you can relate.

And through it all, there is one constant thought I’ve had since the tragedy unfolded. I can’t help but wonder, did every one of those children go to school that morning knowing they were loved? Or were they rushed out the door by a harried, stressed parent trying to get them on the bus or to school on time and never heard, “I love you?” Were their last interactions with their parent or caregiver positive and loving or the opposite?

When you lose someone so suddenly, you ask yourself these questions. At least when I lost my dad tragically nine years ago, I did. You replay your last interaction repeatedly and hope that the person taken from you knew you loved them.

Sadly, we don’t always have that chance, especially if you’ve been estranged from your parent or child. Honestly, I can’t remember if I told my dad I loved him, which haunts me. I know that he knew I loved him, but it still bothers me that I don’t remember saying it to him when we last spoke.

Unfortunately, it’s too late for that one last conversation for those poor families in Uvalde. But it’s not too late for us. Whether it feels weird, silly, or uncomfortable, I say the words I love you as often as I can to the people in my life, even dear friends. And I encourage you to do the same, especially for your young children and teens.

They need to hear it, now more than ever. Our youth live in a world none of the older generations can even imagine or relate to at times. Many children and teens already feel unworthy, unloved, and stressed out from so many factors at home and school.

Each of us deserves a safe space, specifically with our family. Yet, many children don’t have experience of safety and comfort. If you feel helpless in the face of this shooting tragedy, I get it. I do too. But there is at least one way you and I can help. We can resolve to treat every interaction with our children as if it’s our last.

When you’re rushing them around to get ready for school, and you get frustrated, stop, breathe and tell them you love them. Before you fall asleep at night, tell them you love them. When you’re at work, and your teen is sleeping in during summer break, text them you love them. Yes, you might get ignored or get a terse “k” texted back to you, but I assure you, they want and need to hear they are loved.

Remember that we are never guaranteed tomorrow. We are given only this moment. So, make sure to always part with love.

Dawn-Renée Rice is a Conscious Connection Parenting Coach, writer, speaker and columnist from the North East Texas area. She and her husband have been married for 23 years, share three children, 11 grandchildren and one furbaby. To follow Dawn-Renée, sign up to receive email updates or connect on social media, visit her online at linktr.ee/dawnreneerice.

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