This is the first post in a series written by a dear friend. She has a huge heart for unknown and forgotten children. Over the next weeks, she will be sharing their stories.
SO we have to get this out in the open right from the get go. I’m not young, hip, or culturally relevant. You may have guessed that by the fact that I used the phrase “from the get go.” Yep, I’m officially OLD.
I don’t hang out with young people who have been marginalized and vilified by our society because I’m so cool…or because I want some new edgy best friends. I don’t try to fit in. I don’t even have tattoos or piercings. Okay…I do have one tattoo but it is really small and no one even knows its there. I would probably get more (It’s true! Having one DOES make you want to get another!) but my kids think it’s creepy that their OLD MOM has a tattoo!
I simply hang out with these kids because I care about them. If you knew them like I know them, I think you would care about them too.
First thing you need to know about my young friends is that they didn’t grow up thinking, “All I want to be when I grow up is homeless,” or “I’m going to grow up and get in a bad relationship and go to jail for domestic violence.” They usually don’t even grow up thinking, “I can’t wait to join a gang.”
I’m not a sociologist (I even had trouble spelling that!) so I won’t get into all the societal reasons they end up living the lives they do. There is lots of research by smart people about that. (Check it out here) I have personally seen that the main reason these kids struggle is because they didn’t have a solid foundation in their early lives , no education to teach them a different way, and no opportunity to “make it happen.”
They were born into crappy families where the skills they learned were how to sell drugs or how to fight well or how to fend for themselves on the streets. SO many of them were deposited into foster care at an early age, where they learned about how to avoid abuse, how to survive the system, or sometimes they learned there were nice families, but they couldn’t belong to them. These are not the life skills that usually land you in Ivy league schools or corporate America.
The crazy thing about my friends is that they really care about me too. They check on me when I’m sick. They want to know my family and all about my life. They like to come for holidays and be part of our silly family traditions. As corny as it seems, they really do want to live “the American Dream.” It’s just that their american dream quickly turned into a nightmare soon after they were born.
It’s hard to pull yourself up from your bootstraps when you aren’t old enough to know how to tie your own shoes. Most of the stories I’m going to share with you started long before these kids could make any choices about their lives at all.
Now you know I’m not hip or cool are you still with me? Can you help me believe that if people really knew about the kids that live on our streets, and in our foster homes and in our prisons that they would care about them like I do? That our country really is full of good people who want to help others. That we really do care about children, children that are actually born in this world, our world without a foundation of security and protection. Without homes to keep them warm and safe. Without parents that want to teach them the golden rule or how to make it in the world. Kids that have been left to raise themselves and each other.
These kids have never even heard of a helicopter parent. The only helicopters looking out for them come with a high beam searchlight that tracks people down in the dark.
These kids are real. I know them. I care about them. I really think you will too.
There are kids like this all over America. Over 1 million homeless kids in America. Over 150 million kids living on the streets of the world every day. This is happening every day in America and around the world. Follow along and meet some of these kids for yourself. You don’t even need a tattoo.
Thank you for reading, friends. I’ll continue this series next Wednesday.
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