Teach your children not to live in fear

So, the last few months have seen us endure some pretty horrific terrorist attacks around the world as well and 3 in 3 months in this country alone, and I hear more and more people online sharing their fears for their children’s future in such a world. I too share those fears even though I have older teens now I wonder what will become their ‘normal’ in say the next 20 years with regards to terrorism, policing and our country’s safety. What will they be bringing their future children into in many years to come?

However, I am  from Belfast, born in 1970 and lived my youngest years into my teens throughout the height of ‘The Troubles’ in Northern Ireland. The absolute full extent would probably never have been covered in the national media forums unless it involved the mainland itself, but still it continued on a very daily basis in my area as well as many others. My parents back then probably had the exact same fears about our future as children with armed police and the Army patrolling our streets and wondering where it would all end up.

Yet here I am! Old enough to have my own family and worry about their future in the way my parents did before me. Coming from a very loyalist area ( being Protestant) my parents never discussed religion or politics in front of us. We were never brought up with extremist views one way or the other. They never stopped us playing outside, or going anywhere or doing anything…………………life just carried on. We were never brought up to actively ‘hate’ anyone just because a paramilitary group had decided to plant a bomb,or  kill innocent people, or shoot a single person in retaliation for another attack. We were not brought up to think that ‘tit for tat’ killings where OK. As kids we had been segregated to either Protestant or Catholic areas to live and for schooling etc. Yet I remember how excited I was when I got my first part time job in Belfast city centre working inn Argos knowing that I would be ‘mixing’ with Catholics and working in a ‘mixed’ area. I had a blast in that job. The people I met and the friends I made just made my time there brilliant fun.

What I am trying to say is that my parents never made religion and the issues surrounding it in Northern Ireland and issue for us growing up. We were not brought up to ‘hate’ a person just because they were a different religion to ourselves.

So  if you are afraid of what the future holds for your children then teach them that not everyone of that race or religion believes the same as those extremists. I never once thought that all Catholics ( back in the days of The Troubles ) were affiliated or believed the same as the IRA and I can only thank my parents for that.

Do not get me wrong, my absolute heart goes out to each and every person who has been affected by these atrocities and yes I would love to see an end to them too, it’s a total heartbreak that most of us cannot even begin to imagine or understand what they must be going through.

It is a scary world, but do not pass on your adult fears to your children before they are able to comprehend or begin to understand. Instead, teach them to see and take everyone on face value, to not be afraid when they see armed police or possibly armed forces on the streets- these people are here to protect us. I was in my mid teens on holiday in Plymouth when I saw the very first policeman in shirt sleeves with no body armour, unarmed and on his own!! Until then armed police and Army on the streets was my normal- and yet here I am a normal person. I haven’t suffered any detrimental affects, all grown up with my own family.

Our world is always going to be scary with everything that is going on across the globe, but for your children’s sake concentrate on the everyday normality and the good. I have seen a great quote online telling us to ‘look for the helpers’ in those awful situations and it’s true. There will always be many more people willing to help than to harm. Never let those people affected be forgotten but celebrate those who go to selfless measures to help in the most awful situations regardless of the danger they put themselves in.

In short, I am proof along with many others, if you teach your children to live without adult fears and teach them not to hate a race of people or a religion because of the actions of a minority of extremists then your children will adapt and live normal lives too. It’s possible, we as adults have to make it possible.


The One Where I get Pulled By the Police!

policeYes me! Miss Law Abiding Citizen, ex- driving instructor and wife to a……………POLICEMAN!!!

It happened just before Christmas. I had been visiting a friend and had stayed most of the day and had dinner there. A festive fab time had been had by all- although I stayed completely T-Total as I was driving home.

It’s a journey I have done hundreds of time and to be honest on those sorts of journeys it’s almost driven on auto pilot. It wasn’t busy on the roads and I was tired from the noise and activity of the day. To be honest i couldn’t wait to get back and get my pj’s on and have a good ol’ lug of mulled wine ( it was Christmas you know).

Anyway, I had gone through a junction when I noticed the flashing blue lights in my mirror. The car was typically steamed up from the cold and wet so when I noticed the flashing I just indicated, slowed down and pulled over towards the side so it could pass. when I checked again the flashing lights had gone so I indicated back out and started to drive off again. Suddenly the flashing lights where there again and my 13 year old suggested they may want me!!! Me??? Me??? Why would an ambulance want me.

So reluctantly I stopped and rolled down my driver side window to find A POLICE CAR next to me also with their window rolled down.

‘What colour was that red light you just went through then?’ said the officer in the passenger seat.

Well this sentence took a few seconds to sink in………red light……went through…….OMFG!!

So uncontrollably I went into a full ‘Tracy moment’ as my friends and family know it- that is me in full shock mode including very loud and sharp intake of breath and my hands both coming up to my face ( really I should have been an actress you no- so natural!) At this point the officer in the passenger seat started to laugh after a slight startle. I went fluently into auto babble saying how sorry I was, how I had been past there hundreds of time, how sorry I was, how I thought they were an ambulance so didn’t mean to drive off, how sorry I was………..

Now the driving officer had started to laugh and explained that obviously they had to stop me as I went through a red light but he could see it was unintentional and that I should take care on the drive home. Thank God for nice people eh- no ticket, no points on license, no arrest for failing to stop ( on the first occasion) and I even got a ‘Merry Christmas’ from them.

I was still babbling at this rate, how sorry I was, how it wouldn’t happen again, how sorry I was………

Talk about being reduced to a complete wreck. I should be hardened to a police stop, my husband tells me stories of what goes on all the time, I should have known it wasn’t crime of the century, no one was hurt, there was no near miss, I did (eventually) pull over.

But I tell you one thing. I could NOT be a professional criminal. I couldn’t take the pressure! I was guilty before I had even known I was guilty. Those poor officers must have thought I was a complete nutter, worryingly in charge of a car and children!

Still, I provided them with their entertainment for the evening, I’m sure the rest of their stops that evening where no were near as apologetic as myself.

Oh and my OH thought it was hilarious, no chance of keeping it secret with a 13 and 15 year old in the car.