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Our children deserve gifts for the new year


An affirmation of confidence and encouragement goes a long way to build hope

With the New Year comes all the requisite Year In Pictures, Person of the Year, Ten Worst Ideas of the Year, Ten Best Ideas of the Year, Top 100 Songs (I’m old enough to remember listening to the radio as the DJ counted down, and taping the final 10 with my cassette tape deck) and a host of other evaluations about the year which is now gone.

For myself, I am ready for 2012 to be over. We had medical challenges in spades this year, and I am hoping for a healthier 2013. I hesitate to pronounce 2012 as all good or all bad. I hope yours was a positive year.

DAVE WENZELAt the same time, I sense a certain angst in the world, one that troubles me. I don’t know if it is because of the notable tragedies of the past year or something else. Twice this last year we sat down with our kids to process public massacres. There was the Clackamas Town Center shooting. There was a lot of negative political talk, and as I type this we are speeding toward the now legendary fiscal cliff with no idea how steep it is.

I tried to fix my dishwasher today, and it didn’t cooperate. And I have a leaky roof. And tomorrow the Christmas decorations all need to come down. Sigh.

Recently a young adult reviewed all this with me and talked of their own discouragement about the future. It causes me some sadness when our young people are struggling to feel hopeful. What are we to do in the face of it all?

I took stock this morning of things around me and realized that despite the negatives, today was in fact an opportunity. It was an opportunity to say something encouraging to someone. It was an opportunity to show my son how to build a rack for the wall. It was an opportunity to tell two of my children (who fly home tonight from thousands of miles away) that I love them, and to say it looking into their eyes. It also was an opportunity to text someone and say that I care about them.

So I decided to try those things today. I found that doing those things soothed some of the angst. Nothing is fixed, but I do believe that kindness and love foster hope. Hope brings a small amount of relief and strengthens the soul. Giving away love improves one’s view of the world.

What can you do for your kids, and for any children whom you come in contact with this coming year? Try offering a word of encouragement. For those close to you, affirm your love in words and actions. Our young people need us to have confidence in them, and to give them gifts that cannot be destroyed by negative events: gifts such as encouragement and love.

Then together we can face tomorrow.

  • Longtime Sandy resident Dr. Dave Wenzel is a parent, a professor of counseling and a Licensed Professional Counselor. He works with children, individuals, families and couples. His office, River Ridge Counseling, is in Sandy. He may be reached at 503-803-0444 or at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..li>