I was watching a film this week and someone was asking this lady why she had married her husband, she said in reply “because we all need a witness to our lives, the ups and downs and comings and goings”. This has made me ponder a lot this week on that thought – that we all need other people to witness our lives – to see us live, to be part of our life experiences, to ‘do life together’. Without this what is it all about? I’m not just talking about the marriage partnership – but all relationships – parents, teachers, friends, family, people in the supermarket – we all witness each others lives. Sometimes something terrible or amazing happens and no-one we know is there to see it, but someone is…..we may not know them but they are still a witness to that event.
When thinking more about my children’s life experiences especially before they came into the care system – this concept becomes even more powerful and poignant. One of the most fundamental things children need to know is that they are loved. That someone cares about them. That they matter. That they are on someones mind. That someone is a witness to their lives – their inner and outer world. When children experience neglect particularly those feelings are not there. They do not know that anyone cares if they live or die. When a child is abused then someone has been a witness to their lives, but that person has not protected them – they have watched when those terrible things have happened.
Either way – whether neglect and/or abuse, children who come into the care system need to know that we see them – that we are a witness to their lives and that they are on our minds. I heard someone say this week that children need at least five significant adults in their lives – that may be parents, teachers, youth worker, neighbour, auntie or uncle. Whoever it is those people will have an influence and impact on a child’s experience of life – they will be the witnesses to that child’s existence. I only wish the adults in my children’s lives understood what a huge help or hinderance they are to my children’s progress. It matters that we remember their names. It matters that we pay attention to their anxieties. It matters that we witness their very existence. How we respond to them is vitally important.
I feel like a real speech coming on in this blog but I didn’t really realise how deeply I felt about this. When I watch my children sometimes and I can see the weight of their worlds on their little faces it saddens me. I know they have experienced far more than they should have in their short lives. Now I want to make sure they have witnesses to the rest of their lives. People who really care about what happens to them. I know we have some brilliant people around us who do that with our children. I want to thank God for those people. And I also want to encourage those reading this to look closer at the children around you – see what’s going on with them, notice and be a witness to their lives and in turn they will be a witness to yours.