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The Gift of Presence

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

10 years ago this week, my then 18 year old nephew Tanner was stabbed to death in the driveway of his family's home. His dad, a dentist,  and his mom

a PHD student at U of T were at a staff Christmas party and the younger son Cameron invited a few hockey friends over after a game.  The rule of the

family was no guests over when parents were away, but these were long time friends and great kids so Cameron invited them over.  One of the guests had

a cell phone and made a call to another friend and through a chain of calls a group of "unknown guys" showed up.  Cameron tried unsuccessfully to get

them to leave.  Tanner arrived home at midnight, from work,  to find the unwanted guests and so proceeded to ask them to leave.  On the way out, one

of the young men picked up a knife from the family kitchen. Tanner was stabbed in the driveway of his home as his brother watched.  The family has

never recovered. Yes, they have moved on but no one is ever the same after such a tragic event. 

We all love our kids.  We all want to raise healthy,

happy successful kids. We want our kids to have friends and work hard and grow into good people.  We all want our kids to be safe and we want them to

be respected and connected. It takes a lot of work and dedication to raise good people.  It is like an 18 year meditation to raise a person.  The work

is never done.    As parents we have to keep adjusting and modifying what we are focused on as they age and as they each have their own unique

circumstances to navigate.  It behooves every single parent to have difficult conversations with their kids.  To ask the uncomfortable and smart questions.  To listen.  To set limits that are going to ensure the safety of not only their own kid, but of all kids.  We all know how easily a small, seemingly innocent situation can get out of hand.  Teens are still learning.

Their brains aren't fully developed, even though they think they are.  They don't always have the wisdom to make the best choices.  They are going to make mistakes and hopefully they aren't ones that  lead to a tragedy like in my family. 

The greatest gift every parent can give their kid at any time of the year, and at Christmas,  is the gift of time, of presence, of listening and being involved in their lives in small or big ways.   I want to wish

everyone a very Merry Christmas and I hope that everyone has a safe and happy 2015.  We live in a beautiful part of the world and we are so lucky in

so many ways.  Never take it for granted.  Look after your family and friends,  hold them tight and enjoy spending time with them over the holidays.  In the end they are what is most important. No one will remember

what type of sweater you gave them, but they will the time that you spent with them.  All the best.

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