Woman expressing through her voice.

If you listened to my audiobook or heard me speak, you know my voice. But do you?

You may recognize what my voice sounds like, but you don’t know the conscious and deliberate choices I make when I use it. Even I don’t completely recognize it myself! All I know is that I am using my voice to empower parents and uplift youth in any way I can.

How do you choose to use your voice? Do you keep it to yourself, or do you raise it in service to others? I suppressed my voice growing up. I didn’t think people wanted to hear what I had to say, and I was afraid of being judged or criticized for my thoughts and opinions. As I’ve grown older, I realize everyone’s thoughts and ideas are valid. People are allowed to have their views. I just may disagree with them.

I grew up with adults saying that children should be seen and not heard. They thought that kids were immature and inexperienced, so their opinions didn’t matter. Many people still think that way today. Children don’t vote and are not decision-makers, so their ideas and views are pushed aside and don’t matter to many people.

What would the world look like if we changed this view? Our children have voices, and we should listen to them. Imagine the shift in public policies if we incorporated the innovative and fresh ideas of young people who are our next generation of leaders.

We act as if we care about the welfare of youth. We only care when it impacts our immediate interests. We care when it affects our bottom line; when we want them to purchase a product; when their test scores impact our school’s ratings; or when we want to gain their parents’ attention and purchasing power. As a society, we pretend that youth matter, but they really don’t.

If they did, we would have immediately enacted legislation after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting that protected students from being killed in similar tragedies. If youth mattered, we would be feverishly working on measures to control climate change rather than debating whether it even exists. If our kids mattered, they would all have access to top-notch education no matter where they lived. If they mattered, we would be interested in what they have to say and the contributions they can make now.

We all have a voice, including our youth. Let’s listen to what our kids have to say. Let’s consider their viewpoint as we strive to make this world a better place. It’s time to think out of the box to create solutions that work for all of us.

Just in case you haven’t listened to my audiobook, here is the link. You’ll get to hear my voice up close and personal!