Being for Children

As you may know, this is St. Louis’ 250th anniversary. That means that St. Louis was established before the signing of the Declaration of Independence!  As a non-native St. Louisian, I learned something new about our city last week. Last Friday, on behalf of University City Children’s Center and LUME, I had the privilege of attending a community-wide “call to action” event for the prevention of child abuse and neglect as part of STL250. As UCCC was celebrating the Week of the Young Child, April 6-12, sponsored by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) with daily activities and a fun and learning-filled literacy night, we were also in the midst of doing our part to support Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention month. Celebrating children and honoring them with safe and carefree play and learning are a couple of the numerous and significant ways we support the healthy development of children - paths to building resilience for the prevention of child abuse and neglect for generations.

Photo by  Jeffery Pomranka

The motivation behind this particular blog is inspiration from others, those who have been vulnerable in their lives and so vulnerably share their stories in such humble, poignant, and meaningful ways. At this event last week, I listened to a talk by Michael McLaughlin, a local child advocate, social entrepreneur, writer, and Founder of Unite4Kids, about the incomprehensibility of parents not loving a child - a question we all need to ask of the world. He talked about his own experience of surviving abuse and neglect and made a point to talk about the fact that someone had genuinely believed in him, a potentially enormous protective factor for all children and youth and a potentially life-changing relationship for a child who has suffered greatly. If we can be people who believe in our children and other children, what a gift we are giving to humanity. The same week, Stephanie Williamson, Founder and Executive Director of Helping Hand-Me-Downs, a child advocate, and a UCCC parent, shared a very touching story of how love and empathy can transform lives. The cause for the prevention of child abuse and neglect is at work in our community on a daily basis!

As I see and speak with adults coming to and going from UCCC with children,

  • I always believe in you to help your children through tough times and wonderful times.
  • I hope you will partner with us to help them learn to trust that there are people in the world who will stand with you as your children’s biggest supporters.
  • I hope you will also help them learn how to discern about relationships and how to have respect for themselves.

They will develop healthy confidence, empathy, and learn how to love because they have parents and other adults who believe in them. As we have discussed in some of the Family Matters discussions, and most recently in the one about toilet learning, development is always pushing forward.  As parents, we can support our children’s development by seeing their potential, recognizing they have their own gifts and talents to develop and share with the world, and to love them as the people they are and who they are becoming.

Post by Sarah Wilhelms, MSW, LCSW