If you are like many conscientious and concerned individuals, you have already seen the movie Sound of Freedom. If you haven't seen it yet, I highly recommend this eye-opening and powerful movie based on the true story of Tim Ballard. There is some controversy around the movie and, as is the case of many true stories that are turned into movies, some facts have been changed or altered. However, this movie brings the very real issue of child trafficking to center stage. My question to all of us is: What's Next? What Can I Do? After walking out of the theater, I felt it is important for me to not just feel upset, concerned or even outraged about what is happening--I need to do something.
So I did some research. Child victims of trafficking are recruited, transported, transferred, harbored or received for the purpose of exploitation. They may be forced to work in sweatshops, on construction sites or in houses as domestic servants; on the streets as child beggars, in wars as child soldiers, on farms, in traveling sales crews or in restaurants and hotels. Some are forced to work in brothels and strip clubs or for escort and massage services.
Did you know that child trafficking affects every country in the world, including the United States? In fact, the United States is a source and transit country, and is also considered one of the top destination points for victims of child trafficking and exploitation. Children make up almost one-third of all human trafficking victims worldwide.
Below are some resources that I would like to share with you. I know that the list isn't complete, but I invite you to join me in getting educated in what we can do. Check out one or more of these resources and talk with others to find out what else is out there and how we can support.
20 Ways You Can Help Fight Human Trafficking
Below are some of the ways suggested to help. Go to the link at the bottom of this list for more details.
Here are some organizations that are already working to support parents in earning a living wage, helping children to attend schools to get an education, training professionals, advocating for children and much more.
The true story behind the movie with Tim Ballard and host Lewis Howes.
My dad, who passed about a month ago, was a great support when I was writing my book "7 Gifts to Give Your Child." As a pastor and as a parent, he had many life stories that he shared with us and in his sermons. At 68 years, he published his first book of short life stories. The youngest of ten children, he became the family historian and gathered stories of his relatives which included settlers who moved west to stake a claim in the 1800s and a Quaker family whose home was one of the stops on the Underground Railroad route in North Carolina. While helping my mother sort through my dad's belongings, I came across a selection of stories that he had written after his books were published. I would like to share one of them here that reminds me of what is important in life.
Our Lives Reflect Our Values By Millard Osborne
While waiting for our car to be finished in the service area of the Toyota dealership, we were in the visitors' lounge. Among those who were also waiting was a man who appeared to have come from his place of work to have his vehicle serviced. Wearing his tool belt and a yellow hard hat, he sat across the room from us, so we had no direct conversation with him.
Eventually, he was paged indicating that his vehicle was finished. But before leaving the lounge, he approached us with a broad smile on his face. He stopped directly in front of us and extended his right hand in a gesture of appreciation. His first words were, "I want to congratulate you." At first, we were puzzled by these words from a total stranger. I pondered the meaning of this unexpected greeting. Had we won the lottery or maybe the daily drawing for the door prize?
When I asked him why he had singled us out of all those in the visitors' lounge, we learned that he had been watching us. It seems that he had made some assumptions about us as an older couple. He guessed that we were married and said that he could see that we cared for each other by the way we interacted. Maybe he had observed us as I had gotten coffee and granola bars from the vending machines that we shared together.
He was particularly interested in how long we had been married and asked questions about our family. In turn, we asked about his family and learned that he was a native of California where we were living. He continued to express admiration for the joy and satisfaction we showed for our years of marriage.
Looking back on this surprising encounter, we realized again how our actions and words communicate the deeper message of our lives more clearly than we may be aware of--even to a stranger in a yellow hard hat.
In her book The Conscious Parent, Dr. Shefali Tsabary says, “Through our children, we get orchestra seats to the complex theatrics of our immaturity, as they evoke powerful emotions in us that can cause us to feel as though we aren’t in control—with all the frustrations, insecurity, and angst that accompanies this sensation.”
Back when I was still working in a classroom, one of my preschool students, Mandy, along with her mom, arrived on Monday morning to find out that she had been switched to the Orange Group for the last week of summer camp. Mandy didn’t adapt well to new situations and was a little anxious about the change. Since she had several friends in the Orange Group, I was sure that she would do fine with some time to settle in.
However, the situation quickly escalated because her mother became upset and went to speak with one of the administrators, dragging Mandy with her. In front of her daughter, the mom complained loudly, with a few choice swear words thrown in, about how unfair this was to her daughter, demanding a refund for the week. Clearly, the daughter wasn’t the only one getting emotional!
As parents, how often have we done this? We step in to speak for our child, fight their battles, or go to bat when we feel that a teacher or a friend is treating them unfairly. We have the best of intentions and we act out of love, but what kind of message are we really sending? Some experts call this being a “helicopter parent.” The parent hovers over their child and rescues them from the hostile world in which they live. To “protect” them, they take on the responsibilities of the child and give them the message that they cannot handle things. Instead, children need to hear this message from us: “I love you and you can do this. I believe in you, and I am here if you need my help.”
If we are honest with ourselves, many times the challenges that our child faces trigger feelings within us of fear, anxiety, and being unworthy or inadequate. We may connect with memories of being bullied or misunderstood. Starting from our own self-awareness, we need to stop and ask ourselves, “Am I dealing with my child in a healthy manner, or am I being triggered by something from my own past?”
There is a reason we are getting upset, giving in, or overreacting. Learning about what causes us to react and understanding why some things bother us more than others is an important part of parenting. Getting triggered is when we have an intense physical or emotional reaction to an event or interaction. Often something our child or someone else says or does connects us to a difficult childhood memory. At times, we can work through these challenges on our own, but sometimes we need the support of a friend, coach, or mental health professional, and that’s okay.
Parenting and grandparenting gives us the tremendous opportunity to reparent ourselves!
If you are interested in gettting support in this process, visit my website and see the tools that I use in my coaching practice. Coaching With Myrna
As parents, we are tasked with the responsibility to lead. If we want our children to learn how to love and care for themselves and others, be responsible, and have self-control and respect, we need to model and live it every day. Dr. Greg Baer in Real Love in Parenting says, “Our children can’t achieve those qualities...until they feel more loved, and that is our responsibility, which requires that we find Real Love for ourselves and then share it with them. It all starts with a desire to change ourselves.”
Kids’ greatest sense of security comes from the confidence that the people that they love the most—their parents and family—love each other. It has been said that the family is the school of love, the place where loving relationships are meant to be learned. Through our examples as parents, we teach and show that happiness comes from being loving. We can also demonstrate accepting and loving other people through our interactions with employers, coworkers, store clerks, neighbors, friends, relatives, and even other drivers on the road.
The way that children learn to be responsible is the same way they learn to play an instrument or ride a bike—with practice. Giving them plenty of opportunities to practice is important. Equally important are the lessons learned through the mistakes of poor choices. When we can remain calm and respond to a mistake with empathy, the relationship remains intact, and the mistake is the problem. However, if we respond with anger, the child quickly becomes resistant, upset, and learns little from their poor choices.
As a parenting coach and educator, I teach that responding with empathetic, compassionate, and unconditional love is the goal. However, it also means we love our kids so much that we are willing to set and enforce limits. Logic happens when we allow our children to make decisions that sometimes result in affordable mistakes and experience the natural or logical consequence. Our love is powerful enough to allow them to learn through their mistakes. Consequences are opportunities to help them learn from the mistake, not a reason to respond punitively.
We model through our actions, but we can also think aloud, saying things like:
We can teach our children respect, self-control, and so many other qualities through our relationships and daily interactions with them. The entire goal of life is to be happy, a feeling of profound peace that does not come and go with changing circumstances. Real happiness comes from feeling loved and from loving other people, and that feeling is meant to stay with us through any struggle and hardship