While visiting Georgia in August to take my son to college, there were several things that I observed. I witnessed a high number of entire families engaging together as family. I watched moms, dads and kids shopping together in the grocery store and in the mall, sitting together in church and walking the family dog together in neighborhoods.
Another observation was the politeness, manners and friendliness of the people that worked in this small city outside of Atlanta. There was a lot of direct eye contact, no sagging, yes and no ma’am and firm handshakes.
The sales clerks were easily approachable and the children in the stores were not left alone to be babysat by mall security. All children were accompanied by an adult. I found out that there was some kind of ordinance in this Southern community where children are not allowed in the mall after 6 p.m. without an adult.
I say hip, hip, hurray. The ability to grow in this kind of environment far surpasses the protective boundaries of this kind of structure.
Sometimes, "Californians" think we have the lock on what it is to be family. Having grown up in the real south, Mississippi (not Los Angeles), I know that this Huxtable-esque and Normal Rockwell depiction of a present day city in the South is in fact the truth for many.
Being a California transplant, I have adapted and yet realize the core that makes a Southerner a Southerner, is still deep down inside of me and in many of you. That common thread is that family is the place where purpose should begin to manifest.
Here in this college town, I feel the intensity of passion possessed and pursued with family at its core. It would be the beginning of something more, if we could prep all of our children to move forward in the pathway to success.
Parents should strive to spend real time with our children — not texting, washing dishes or putting in a load of clothes while they follow us explaining their day. Children need our unfettered attention.
We need to create a space where our children know that we believe in them and in their potential. Potential can be guided in the confines of an adult influence.
Some children know their greatness and some children are shown their greatness. In this Georgia town, I have seen that the ability to be proud of oneself is an internal work in progress.
The nurtured child is constantly changing and morphing into something that no one knows what the change will look like. Our children need to encase themselves in the chrysalis of positivity.
We as adults and parents are the casing that keeps kids safe and nurtures them into the beautiful butterfly that flitters and moves through the breeze effortlessly.
This mother believes that growth requires that all of our children’s wings be allowed to expand and glide, being tossed around a bit by the updrafts of a cool breeze and sheltered amidst the thundering and lighting that booms and splits the sky.
•Yolande Barial is a Tracy resident and mother. Her column appears every so often in the Tracy Press. Comments can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.