Guest editorial: We all have role to play in lives of our youth

Published 11:21 am Tuesday, April 5, 2022

By Karl Bruchhaus
I vividly remember the June night in 1974 on Father’s Day like it was yesterday. My father, a rice farmer, went to check water levels in a rice field late in the afternoon. As he returned home, he didn’t feel well and was experiencing chest pains. My mother rushed him 20 miles to the nearest hospital, where he later had a second heart attack and died that day, one week shy of his 47thbirthday. I was nine years old at the time, with three older siblings and two brothers who were six and three years old.

From that day forward my mother was a strong, steady influence in our lives and spoke to her young children about making good decisions and being good leaders. She reminded us daily as we grew to avoid questionable pathways and make wise choices.

There is often discussion today about who is responsible for helping our children make those good decisions and setting them on a path to success. I believe the responsibility belongs to all of us, parents and other family members, teachers and other school-based folks, our faith-based communities, and generally every adult. Our children have lots of challenges all striving for their attention. Certainly society today, with all of the options of interaction through Tik-Tok, Snapchat, Instagram, and every other new platform, create a tendency for our children and even our adults to feel compelled to respond or comment.

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It’s so important that all of us who play a role in the life of our youth continue to remind them that actions and decisions made without thought often have undesirable consequences that can extend for a lifetime. We should continue to remind our young people that we have no control over what others say or do but instead can only control how we respond or react. Our choices in those moments can define us and mold our character.

An unknown monk in 1100 AD wrote: “When I was a young man, I wanted to change the world. I found it was difficult to change the world, so I tried to change my nation. When I found out I couldn’t change the nation, I began to focus on my town. I couldn’t change the town, and as an older man, I tried to change my family. Now as an old man, I realized the only thing I can change is myself, and suddenly I realized that if I changed myself, I could have made an impact on my family. My family and I could have made an impact on our town. Their impact could have changed the nation, and I indeed could have changed the world.” Our impact on those around us lies within us all.

I recently spoke to our leaders in the school system about a post on a site called Teacher Goals that said “Be the reason someone feels welcomed, seen, heard, value, loved, and supported.”While we encourage our whole education team to be that person for our students, it is just as important that every person in a child’s life strives to exhibit those qualities. We can encourage the children in our homes, in our neighborhoods, in our churches, and in our communities to make good decisions end quality choices as they grow in this ever-challenging world.

I am so thankful each day for my mother’s choice in the face of great adversity to demonstrate strength, wisdom, and character to her young children as we grew into young men. She truly has been the reason we felt welcomed, seen, heard, valued, loved, and supported. I challenge all of us to be that person in the life of a child today. It will truly shape our future.


Karl Bruchhaus is the superintendent of Calcasieu Parish public schools.