03/21/2013 12:35 pm ET Updated May 21, 2013

Big Picture Parenting


Thirteen million children will be bullied this year. A woman is sexually assaulted every two minutes. A report of child abuse is made every 10 seconds.

We live in a culture of violence. Despite awareness campaigns, advocacy groups, and information overload, we continue to accept violence as the norm in this country. We make our way through each day focused on the individual tasks at hand.

We don't consider the big picture until it slaps us in the face. Over and over again.

We cry out in horror when two teenage boys, high on arrogance and drunk on alcohol are caught repeatedly assaulting a drunken teenage girl. We blame the town. We blame the sports culture. We even blame the coach. But we stop short of truly placing blame on the parents. Surely they did their best, after all.

We hang our heads when yet another child is bullied to death. This time not by suicide -- this time by the hands of the bullies who shattered his face, simply because they could. We blame the boys. We blame the school. We blame the school district. But we don't point out the obvious: Bullying is a learned behavior. Bullying begins at home.

We pass judgment when we hear of the latest case of child abuse to hit the news. Those parents have no right to be parents, we say. Perhaps that's true. Perhaps that's harsh. Who are we to pass judgment when we only read stories in bits and pieces as reported by our favorite writers and anchors?

And who are we to pass judgment when we stand by in silence in the presence of parents who scream at, belittle, break the spirit of, and sometimes use excessive force upon their children? It's none of our business, we think, as we cringe and hope that it only gets better for that particular child.

We have to do better. As a country, as parents, as people who care about the future of children all over the world, we have to make a pact. We have to choose to raise a better generation of kids. We have to teach kindness, empathy, and prosocial behavior.

And we have to stop preaching acceptance. To accept something is to give up. I can accept the fact that the stomach flu is likely to hit my house at least once a year until my kids reach adulthood. I can accept the fact that public school isn't exactly what I would like it to be. I don't have to like those things, but I can accept them.

To accept something is to admit that, although I might still hope for change, I can live with it. Acceptance isn't really a positive thing.

It's time to teach our children to embrace differences and learn from one another. It's time to keep the big picture in mind when we make our everyday parenting decisions. We have to stop living as individuals and competing to be the best. We have to raise a generation of children who understand the importance of diversity and make positive choices instead of living with hate and perpetuating violence.

We have to praise often, teach our children to respect one another, and create a culture of positive interactions. We have to work together to put an end to this culture of violence.

Nearly 4 millions babies are born in the United States each year

The good news is that we have nearly 4 million chances to get it right this year. It's time to make that pact. It's time to shift our focus to big picture parenting.