Howard Chusid, Ed.D, LMHC, NCC

Our Kids Are Precious

In our daily lives, we are bombarded with television, the written word, marketing, public relations, opinions, editorials, and all the like. More so now that we are in election frenzy, all the politicos are pestering us with their propaganda and opinions. So it is a rare moment when I find something that really "rocks" me, or makes me think. In reading the Sunday September 2nd Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel, I read an article titled, Looking for a Family Movie Weekend by Ben Crandall.(1) He relates his blog, and takes excerpts from Peter Hedges, in an interview with film writer Joe Leydon. Now, while that is a mouthful, his remarks are worthy of reading by every parent with teenage children. Every parent to be should read it, and every high school should post it, and each teacher should emphasize its importance. So why is it so important to me - because my wife and I lost a child to drugs via suicide? Because each life is so precious, because kids have a hard time understanding that "things do happen" and that children and teenagers really do die before their prime. Because, every now and then those things that we read about, don't always happen to someone else, to someone we will never know, but happen to someone we know or worse, happen to someone we love.

Parents at one time or another will come to a place where they want to do something as a family, whatever that may be. Parents of teenagers have the added difficulty of dealing with their teenager who will not want to go with them. Their friends are doing something, or they want to be by themselves, or something else is going on or it is just, "leave me alone". Most of us, rather than deal with the aggravation, usually acquiesce or attempt the alternative of arguing with their teenager. For those of us who have been at that place, we know it isn't pretty or inviting. What it is, is aggravation times 10, with cursing, threatening, and screaming. Not something we all look forward to!

So, given that scenario I am going to copy, with attribution to the author, the article I found so important.

But what I hope for parents while they watch the movie is that they become increasingly cognizant of the limited time we have with our children. I don't think we can be told that enough - that they're growing up quickly and you only get kids for so long. This was never made more clear to me than the time my wife was having an argument with my older son. See, he wanted to go away on a weekend with some friends. This was right before I jumped into this, to try to make this movie. (The Odd Life of Timothy Green) And she said, "Well, we're going away as a family." And he said, "No, I want to be with my friends." We didn't know what to do, because this was the first time he was really being willful. He just really dug in. So finally, Susan, my wife, took a piece of paper, and wrote a zero, and then a 90. And then between them, she put a 15, and then a 30. And then 45, 60 and 75. And then she said, "Simon, this is how long we hope you're going to live." But then she drew a line where there would be 18. And she said, "This is how long we get you." And then she drew a line back at 15 - which is how old he was. And she said, "This is how much time we have left." And my son, who's a boxer, who does yoga, who could crush all of us in this room - except for Joel. No one crushes Joel. But tears came to my son's eyes. And he said, "Yeah, mom. I'll go with you on the weekend." So I wanted to make a movie that reminded me and reminded other people about the preciousness of time. And how little time we have left with our kids. (2)

The end result is that we teach our children and understand for ourselves of how important time is. We really don't have all the time that we think and sometimes "bad things do happen" and there isn't much we can do about it.

So, as my wife is asking me, "will this help"? Will this article help people make a decision on taking or not taking their children? I don't really know but it will make thinking an important point of the discussion. So when it is all said and done, if it saves just one life, if it causes one young person to "think", it had done its job.

1. Crandell, B. (2012, September 2). Looking for a family movie this weekend? See 'The Odd Life of Timothy Green' -- then give your kid a hug | The Go Guide | Sun Sentinel blogs [Web log post]. Retrieved from http://weblogs.sun-sentinel.com/entertainment/thingstodo/2012/08/looking_for_a_family_movie_thi.html

2. Joe Leydon (2012). A magical movie experience: Odd Life of Timothy Green director touches on time, parents' emotions. [ONLINE] Available at: http://houston.culturemap.com/newsdetail/08-15-12-a-magical-movie-experience-odd-life-of-timothy-green-director-touches-on-time-parents-emotions/. [Last Accessed 9/02/2012].

Howard Chusid, Ed.D., LMHC, NCC has a doctorate in Counseling Psychology, is an experienced Mental Health Counselor and a Florida Supreme Court Certified Family and Circuit Civil Mediator, ElderCare Mediator, Parent Coordinator and a Qualified Arbitrator. He is an Adjunct Instructor at Kaplan University, trained in EMDR and deals with Post Traumatic Stress Disease (PTSD) and Grief Therapy. He is also a Board Certified Professional Counselor, Florida Licensed Mental Health Counselor, National Certified Counselor, Master Professional Career Counselor and a member of the National Career Development Association, American Psychotherapy Association and the American Psychological Association.