"May all your troubles last as long as your New Year's resolutions."
This quote came from the comedian Joey Adams. But, many of us can relate, I'm afraid. I know for myself, there are a handful of timeless goals that make the list every January first. Lose weight. Don't drink so much. Finish my novel. Be a better friend, sister, wife, daughter, mother. The first three are pass-fail questions; come December 31st, I've either achieved them or I haven't. (Most years to date? Um ... I haven't.) The last one is more open-ended and I will work on it the rest of my life.
This year, I'm thinking about adding another resolution to my list. It's not as straightforward or as easily measurable as "Go to the gym four times a week." Or, "Eat less chocolate." But, I think it's more important.
I resolve to do whatever I can to empower my daughter so that when she is an adult she can help her generation change the world.
This resolution — and, indeed the subject of this blog post — is a new thought. It comes at the end of a year that had more bad news than good. When people in this country felt such desperation that they camped out in front of financial institutions in peaceful protest, only to be removed by government agencies established to protect the right to do so.
It comes at a time when we still have young women and men risking their lives overseas — and coming home to unemployment and foreclosure notices. When families in this country are dealing with the rising cost of healthcare and education. When our rights as citizens are threatened and our elected officials are too busy fighting each other to take care of our needs.
I make it no secret that I'm about as East-Coast-Blue-State-Feminista-Liberal as you get. But, Liberal, Conservative, Democrat, Republican ... there is no one I know — no one — happy with the status quo.
A devoted father I spoke to yesterday is concerned about the world we're leaving his four-year old daughter. I too am concerned. But, I think the hope lies in that little girl and my tween daughter and all of their peers. This country is a mess and yes, they will inherit it. It's our responsibility to change what we can today, and to help them understand that they can affect change as well.
How can we do this? By volunteering, by being active in the process. By voicing our concerns to our representatives, by attending town halls. By voting. By making sure that our children see us actively doing all these things. And, by helping them understand that they have power.
If your daughter or son has an issue at school, help them learn how to bring it to the appropriate person's attention through the appropriate channels. Teach them to self-advocate. Show them how to take responsibility, take action, take a leadership role. Instill the powerful combination of respect for the system and participation in working within that system to create lasting change.
As parents in 2012 (2012!), we may bemoan how wired our tweens and teens are. We may get frustrated when they don't show the respect, obedience or compliance we remember from our own youth. But, these are strong, informed and opinionated young people. Yes, I'm frustrated with the economy, with war, with politics, with religious, ethnic and gender prejudice. But, I'm not going to lose faith, precisely because I have so much faith in our children.
Thank you for reading. I'll get off my soapbox now, change out of my yoga clothes and go pick my daughter up at the stable. Then, we will spend the afternoon and evening doing laundry, cleaning up her room, and trying to get back in gear because school starts again tomorrow. (It's a new year, but the same old routine.)
To you and especially to yours, I wish ...
"Happy New Year's to all, and to all a good fight."
No matter what you believe in, believe you can make a difference.