Wednesday, December 1, 2021

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Guest Commentary

7 Christmas wishes for Iowa’s children


In writing out my Christmas wishes for Iowa’s children, I thought I would focus on what gifts we Iowans can offer to our kids — what I wish for our kids that we can deliver to them beginning on Christmas day. Here are my seven Christmas wishes:

First, I wish that every hand that touches a child will be a touch of love and kindness. In Iowa, we receive more than 58,000 child abuse complaints a year. That is more than a thousand a week. We adults can pay more attention and be alert to the possibility of child abuse and never hesitate to call in a child abuse complaint when we believe that abuse is occurring. We can always show kindness to our children and never raise our hand in anger.

Second, I wish that every Iowa child be free from the pain of hunger or homelessness. As adults, we should not only provide for our own families but also contribute to or volunteer at food pantries and homeless shelters. We can serve as examples to our children of unselfishly giving to those in need, and together we can save every Iowa child from needless suffering. Every child is precious, and every child should wake up and go to bed in a warm home, with a full stomach, surrounded by people who love him.

Third, I wish every Iowa child will have a significant adult in their life stop and listen to them at least once every day. We adults can put down our cell phones, turn off the television sets and listen to our kids, perhaps at the table during a family meal, at least once each day. Let’s say to our kids, “Tell me about your day,” and then, let’s really listen to what they have to say.

Fourth, I wish that every Iowa child sees kindness and civility practiced by the adults in his or her world. In today’s world, where civility is no longer a fundamental part of public or private discourse, it is important for our kids to see us act like adults around them. All of us adults should conduct ourselves in a way that would make our kids proud. That means using the same expressions we expect them to use, such as “please” and “thank you.” Let’s control our language and our anger around our children. Remember, our children are watching and listening.

Fifth, I wish that every Iowa child will see the adults in their lives model healthy life habits. By that I mean not only that all of us should avoid habits that are bad for us, such as smoking and drinking, but also that we should demonstrate healthy lifestyles, such as including some degree of exercise and a healthy diet in our daily routine. We will not only improve our own health but can benefit our children for the rest of their lives if we model a healthy lifestyle.

Sixth, I wish that every Iowa child will recognize that we value a quality education for everyone. We should show our children that learning is a lifetime activity and that it serves us well even in adulthood. We can read regularly, take online or night classes, or even work on mastering a second language. Our children should see that learning is exciting for everyone — it is not just for kids.

Seventh, I wish that every Iowa child has encouragement and emotional support in everything they do from the adults in their life. We should avoid being “dream stealers.” We should stop ourselves any time we think about saying, “You can’t do that” to a child and ask ourselves, “Why can’t she?”
In short, I wish that every Iowa child is loved and knows he or she is loved. ♦

Jerry Foxhoven is the director of the Iowa Department of Human Services.

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