I looked at my grandson and started to cry

I visited my grandchildren last weekend—and my daughter and son-in-law, too, of course. It’s hard living so far away, but I try to get there about once a month if the weather and the airlines cooperate. My newest grandson is a little over 3 months old, and he is kind of hefty—weighing in at 17 pounds, about the size of a typical 7 –9 month old. He is healthy and is obviously thriving on his diet of breast milk only. While I was sitting on the couch, holding him, talking with him, cuddling him and making him laugh, I started to cry. I was overcome with sadness. I was thinking about how much love this little guy receives now, and will for the foreseeable future, and at the same time, about how many children may never know love, kindness, or a full belly. Even now, just thinking about that moment, I am choked up.

Children in our society are so vulnerable.

We have developed societal methods to protect them, yet these protections often fail. We stand on a precipice. I see a lot of movement in our country to do things that will inevitably harm children. I see cutbacks happening in all areas of our community services. I see young girls, deprived of access to birth control, forced to bring children into the world without the means to provide those children care. So many teens and young adults are no where near ready for parenthood. Being a parent is HARD. You have to have patience, understanding and the ability to postpone fulfilling your own needs in order to tend to your child’s needs. That takes a fair bit of maturity. Some thing that not many 20-somethings are ready to do. Imagine being 15 and having to do that. Usually without a positive role model.

My heart  bleeds  

for all the children I have seen over the past three decades who, while they may have been loved, were also harmed by someone close to them. I see the beautiful smile of my youngest grandson, and think of many, many stories of lives that were cut short, or made so much more painful than they needed to be. I feel a need to share these stories with my readers. Not to be morose, or to make you sad. But perhaps to help you see my perspective. It is the perspective of many professionals who care for children. We have come to realize that the only way we can truly care for the children in our society, is to care FOR our society. Over the next little while—until my heart stops hurting, or until I run out of stories—I will blog about the true stories of children who have moved me. They may not have all been categorized as abuse. But abuse can come in many forms, as I think you will see. I hope you will stick with me.

Recent Comments

I read your heart felt comment...It is a compassion I have come to understand and strive to help...Children do not have a choice and a voice to speak for them..Too many come from broken homes, drugs, and grandparents as myself needing to give them the home and love they deserve. I (like you) find myself realizing my grandson has a good life filled with love and comfort, but my heart goes out to those who do not have this in their life.

Lorna, I appreciate that you took the time to visit and comment. I would love to hear how other readers feel about this important issue. From my perspective, some of the problems in our society, perhaps components that you are lucky enough to not have to see on a daily basis, make it difficult for an approach such as yours to work universally, and in the end it is the babies who suffer. But I am willing to listen.....

I do not agree with giving girls birth control. That is telling them, "Here, we know you are going to have sex anyway, so at least protect yourself." I was taught that it was wrong to have sex before marriage. This actully sends the message that it is OK, and expected. Morals are not taught anymore. What they should do is use those life- like babies as part of the sex- ed classes- a requirement. This will help girls understand what it is like to have to deal with a baby. From what I understand, they are pretty realistic. There should also be a part where they have to "buy" formula,diapers, bottles, etc, on paper. This will give them an idea of the expence of having a baby. The bottom line is that sex-ed programs should be structured in such a way as to discourage sex- until marriage.

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About Dr. Ackerman

Alice Ackerman, MD, MBA, FAAP, FCCM is the Chair of the Department of Pediatrics at Carilion Clinic and Professor and Founding Chair of Pediatrics at the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine. Dr. Ackerman is recognized nationally as an expert in pediatric critical care.

She has been at Carilion Clinic since June of 2007. Her primary goals are to enhance the health care of children in the Roanoke Valley and Southwest Virginia, and is actively working to do this both as physician in chief of the children's hospital, as well as through involvement with many state-wide initiatives.

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