Prior to becoming V’s mom, I was proud mom to two dogs and a cat. My animals are my family and I am very attached to them. I can remember once telling a friend that I would feel bad because I’d be in a park and see a mom walking her dog and pushing a stroller. I’d walk up and say hello to her dog, acknowledge her, yet virtually ignore the baby/child. It wasn’t that I disliked kids, it’s just that I didn’t connect with them the way I did with animals.

Back then, I’d be watching the news and hear stories about children getting kidnapped or murdered or hit by a car or something and I’d have no reaction. I was almost numb to that kind of news, having heard it so often. But if I’d hear a story about animal abuse, I’d feel sick to my stomach … again because of the connection I had to my animals. That’s all changed now …

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the magnitude of responsibility that comes with the job of parenting. And about how much what I do, what I say and how I say it has such a profound effect on my son. Most often I have the power to change my son’s mood simply by how I react to it. This morning was a perfect example. He woke up earlier than normal and was a bit cranky. Rather than acknowledge his crankiness, I simply ignored it and started singing silly songs to him. Before long, he was cracking up and singing with me – cranky mood long gone.

I’ve also seen how his disposition changes when he hears the Husband and I argue about something. The Husband and I made a pact a long time ago to try to never raise our voices and yell at each other in front of V. For the most part, we do a good job but we’ve certainly messed up now and then – and each time it’s happened, I’ve noticed an immediate change in the way V acts. At first, he gets quiet and almost shy – but hours later, if something doesn’t go his way, he’ll start yelling as well. Learned behavior. Thankfully, this has only happened once or twice – but I’ve found myself thinking of all of the kids that grow up around parents who disrespect each other, who yell at each other – even worse. Can’t they realize how their behavior is effecting their child?

The television was on for background noise as I was eating lunch and folding laundry today (I know … you’re jealous of my sexy, exciting life … ha!). A commercial for a Dr. Phil show came on that was quite disturbing. It showed parents beating their children – and their children were terrified. I felt sick to my stomach. Just as I used to have to change the channel whenever a story about animal abuse came on TV, I now have to do the same with stories regarding children.

I’m blessed having grown up in a loving and nurturing family environment and I try my best to provide the same for V. I feel unbelievable sadness for all of the hundreds of thousands of children out there who have parents that ignore them, hit them, yell at them constantly, belittle them, etc. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again … it’s beyond me how absolutely anyone – be it a drug addict, a criminal, a child abuser, a murderer, a rapist – can have a child – yet, we as a society aren’t allowed to drive a car until we take and pass a test. It makes no sense to me.

We’ve got the DMV. Perhaps we need the DTP .. Department of Training for Parents. And if you don’t pass the test, no kids for you! (Seinfeld refernece … anyone?)