N is for Nurturement

“I have the audacity to believe that peoples everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for their minds, and dignity, equality, and freedom for their spirits.

– Martin Luther King, Jr.

As the nature or nurture debate continues, nurturement tends to be the more hopeful path since it’s within our control. Many nonprofits, school systems, and volunteers are already making a valiant effort to help children and adolescents in our society, yet still, too many children end up falling through the cracks. My story is often confused as the guy who pulled himself up by the bootstraps, but the real version is much more complex. I often credit my success to a community that didn’t give up on me, and that led me to believe we have strayed too far away from the it-takes-a-village approach to raising children.

Born into abject poverty, I wasn’t gifted with bootstraps in the birth lottery. Generational trauma and poverty afflicted my family in untold ways, which means I’m an outlier. Some social factors luckily worked in my favor, and with much grit and resilience, I effectively ended the cycle. In gratitude, my community of family, friends, foster parents, teachers, coaches, and therapists sewed my bootstraps through nurturing. Then, and only then, could I determine my way to becoming a self-sustaining and contributing member of our society. My story is a shining example of overcoming when the village bands together for the sake of a child. America’s unique obsession with rugged individualism strays too far from our need as social creatures. Without the ability or accessibility to talk to someone on a deeper level, many of our children’s needs go unmet. One of my favorite phrases, “They have to Maslow before they can Bloom, couldn’t be closer to the truth.

The mental health crisis was reaching alarming levels only to be exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Much of it appears to stem from a lack of nurturement or nurturing environments– the act of taking care of and protecting to develop. In the previous article, I discussed the vital importance of mentorship, but that alone cannot meet the needs of every child or adolescent. Nurturement requires the rest of the adult community to participate in the lives of these children to create the society we want to live in. A child needs to be properly housed, fed, and clothed before they can meet the education requirements of the day. Expecting them to succeed without having their basic needs met is without merit. We cannot become a society that throws away our troubled or at-promise youth. The consequences are far greater than out of sight, out of mind. Many will say such responsibility falls on the parent(s), and they might be correct in perfect circumstances. However, millions of children were born into situations far beyond their control. For impoverished or working poor parents, merely surviving in these situations is expensive, time-consuming, and often overwhelming. In these cases, the village rises to the occasion to help.

The multi-use app functionality of MNDYRR (coming soon!) aims to solve these complex issues by making it easier for children to convey their needs and for the community to step up to meet them as Rappahannock County, Virginia, did for me. In the near future, the app will also assist child welfare professionals with documentation and note-taking to help stem burnout. Join the movement to help mend the social fabric and unravel the trauma too many adolescents are experiencing today. Love, compassion, safety, education, and myriad other factors determine a child’s outcome into adulthood. During their formative years, their mental strength and wellness depend on us fulfilling our country’s promise to them.

Please let me know if your organization is interested in helping with a pilot study by emailing info@mndyrr.com. Investment opportunities are coming soon.

Adam Starks, Ph.D. is the Founder & CEO of MNDYRR Technologies, Inc. For more information, please visit https://mndyrr.com and https://adamstarks.com.

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