There is a list of phrases that my kids have banned me from saying in public, they include, but are not limited to “no cap,” “cray cray” and “YOLO.” Let me be clear that the only reason I would consider letting any of these phrases come out of my mouth is to embarrass my children, because hey, that’s one of the perks of my job as a parent.

I wish the job of parenting were always that simple because I’d be Mom of the Year for sure. It’s my biased opinion that I have amazing kids, yet the reality is being a parent can be demanding, confusing and plain hard. I don’t know if it’s actually become harder over the years or if every generation of parents is left grumbling “What’s with kids these days?” But I suspect if you’re raising kids right now, are a grandparent, teacher, auntie or uncle you’ve noticed that it’s nothing like what we grew up with.

We have to worry about the dangers online, from bullying to sexting to whatever weird, gross, or inaccurate information our kids might come across. Our kids are dealing with mental health challenges, anxiety, depression and eating disorders at alarming rates. Suicide is a valid fear for us parents. Drugs, although not a new issue, somehow feels worse with the fentanyl crisis that is claiming too many young lives. From school shootings to the impacts of COVID-19, it feels like there is no place to hide; it’s overwhelming.

I noticed last weekend while I was watching the 4H/FFA auction that I feel the most hopeful about the future when I’m at events like that. Some of the kids were nervous in front of the encouraging crowd that overflowed the stands, but the kids showed so much courage. This is why I am a supporter of youth programs. Now I’m not foolish enough to think I have all the answers but when I see kids participating in any kind of extracurricular activity, whether it’s the summer reading program at the library, 4H, martial arts or a school sports team, it makes me feel we are doing something right as a community.

Years ago, I interviewed a high school valedictorian; she was honest about facing challenges in her early years, but became an involved student and especially felt inspired by her participation in Business Professionals of America (BPA). In her interview, she told me her goal was to be governor of New Mexico and I remember being impressed with her drive and vision. This spring she graduated with a master’s degree and landed an important position advocating for New Mexico youth. It filled my heart with hope.

There is something to be said about allowing kids to pursue their interests outside of their daily home and school life. Those experiences allow for personal growth and confidence, which translates into happier and better adjusted individuals. We have such a short time with our kids so might as well give them all the tools and opportunities. At some point, we just hope that what we’ve done for them is enough. As a parent, I really want for my kids to be happy and have the ability to take care of themselves, and I want that for your kids too.

For that reason, I will suck it up and do all the driving, buy the equipment, and spend the time and money I may not have at any given moment so they can participate in whatever their interests might be.

Jessica Carranza, Editor