I just put my children to bed.  I love bed-time.  We read and chat.  We laugh and tell stories.  We’ve gone through some amazing books over the years, and we’re still at it, from Bible stories to the Book of Virtues, from Goodnight Moon to Where the Sidewalk Ends.  Our bedtime connection has melted and molded us together for over a decade.  It’s a debriefing and comfort, it’s prayer time and explanations.  It is, in fact, one of the holiest times of my day, when I not only prepare the little ones for bed, but help them to understand their lives, their world, and the dreams their mother and I have for them.

But rest assured, it could not have been accomplished once a month, or virtually.  It could not have happened with recordings of either my voice, or someone else’s reading the great stories, giving the great insights.  Our delightful time together and the intense proximity of our hearts has required the absolute proximity of our bodies.

The world is a hard, hard place for children.  They are beset on every side.  They are ambushed by cruelty and bullying, by terrifying images and perfectionism, by every imaginable activity and ‘rule’ for what ‘normal’ kids have to do.  Our children are assaulted by people who would use and abuse them, adults and other children alike.  Our little ones, our futures, are the targets of more pain now than ever we imagined as children.

We are not powerless, but the hard truth is that we cannot raise our children, shape them, protect or mold them if we are not absolutely dedicated to their wellness, their wisdom and their safety.  They cannot come second to career, second to social life or second to television.  They cannot be neglected or ignored for television, fame or advancement.

Our schedules may be odd, but children are flexible.  But they need to know that when we are there for them, we are truly there for them.  Not answering cell-phones as they dance for us.  Not checking e-mail as they show us their artwork.  Not transfixed by strangers on the television while they long for our voices and touch.

We can make our children secure.  We can wall them in with our love and concern.  But, like everything good and important in life, it will require an investment.  An investment of words, of songs, of stories and games.  It will require more ‘yes’ and less ‘no.’  It will mean that our children have to see themselves as priorities once again, with all the self-worth that implies.

Our families suffer from a disease called separation, and the symptoms are myriad, from drugs to promiscuity, from depression to loneliness.  But the cure is nothing new.  It’s a whopping dose of proximity and time.

You don’t need a medical degree to prescribe that.


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