Sunday, July 6, 2008

Amber Alert

Every time I hear of an Amber Alert, I wonder what the story is behind the situation. I wonder how many of them involve the parent of the child who has gone missing. I wonder how many relationships are being torn apart - for whatever reason - and how many children are being pulled in different directions. I wonder how their stories will end.

As someone who went through a painful divorce, I can remember the plethora of emotions that I experienced as my marriage (and friendship with my husband) fell apart, as my son and I had to learn to adjust to home life without his father and as my son learned to adjust to his father's new house, without me. Our son was quite young at the time and now doesn't remember the three of us ever living under the same roof.

What he does know is that the three of us (him, me and his dad) are a family and that the two of us were thrilled to bring him into the world. He knows that although we don't all live in the same house, we're still a family. He knows that, for us, family includes my sister and her family, my parents, his paternal grandmother and his dad's sister. Oh, and his dad's best friend and my close friends and their families...

I could go on but the point I want to make is that every family is different, unique. My son knows children who are raised by their grandparents, or who have only one parent in their lives. We also know families that have adopted children, foster children, or those who have two dads and one mom, or one mom and one aunt who raise the child together. Families are a beautiful thing and I'm proud of my family, despite the fact that this is not the "family life" I envisioned having when I was a little girl.

I wonder how the children involved in the Amber Alert situations will define family as they get older. I wonder if they will know about the fact that they were reported missing at one time, what details will be explained to them, and what information will never (and should not ever) be revealed?

Will I share with my son the unpleasant memories from my past or things that I'm not proud of? Will I encourage him to ask me questions? Of course - because having him feel comfortable enough to say anything, tell me what's on his mind and ask me any question he thinks of is one of the major goals I have set for building our relationship and making it stronger as he grows up.

So far, so good.

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