A couple of weeks ago, I had a rare opportunity to tour the Susquehanna Power Plant in Salem Township.
This was a fascinating experience for me because I know very little about the generation and transmission of electricity. I am the kind of guy that walks into a room, flips the switch and expects the light to go on. If it doesn’t, I know enough to change the light bulb and barely enough to check the circuit breaker, but beyond that, it is time to call an expert.
Until my tour, I had no idea that by splitting atoms through a process of nuclear fission, a large amount of water is heated to create steam which, in turn, powers turbines to generate electricity. Sounds straightforward enough, but the nuclear fission process could be unstable and must be controlled. The safety protocols are extraordinary and the ability to deal with toxic materials is truly impressive. I now have a whole new appreciation for electricity and my monthly electric bill.
As complex as nuclear science can be, most would believe splitting atoms and generating electricity is fairly simple compared to parenting. Science is predictable; raising a family is not. None of us were born with easy to flip switches that automatically bring power to the inner light I believe we all possess. Unfortunately, parenting is much more complicated than that.
It has been said that parenting is the toughest job on earth. As a parent, you are responsible for the physical, emotional and mental development of another human being.
I have never met a parent that brings a child into this world who does not want their child to be heathy, happy and live a good life. Yet, it seems like too many parents struggle to truly nurture their child’s physical, emotional and mental development because of a lack of understanding, resources or supports to do so. As parents, many of us end up parenting as we were parented. If today’s parents did not have good role models when they were growing up, the cycles of dysfunction are likely to continue and affect the next generation.
All is not lost, however. If you know struggling families, help is available.
Since our transformational changes and the adoption of our new model in 2014, the United Way of Wyoming Valley has been focused on helping at-risk children and families find a pathway to self-sufficiency. We partner with dozens of agencies, school districts, statewide and national organizations, hospital systems and others to improve the educational and health outcomes for children and the financial stability for families.
The United Way also continues to work on child safety issues and is trying to address the toxic influences and stresses that impact many struggling families. Change is not easy and it does not come quickly, but change is possible.
Generating and transmitting electricity safely is complex. Successful parenting is harder. Although I have a new appreciation for electricity, I have a continued appreciation for all parents who endure their struggles and have made the physical, emotional and mental development of their children their most significant responsibility.
Electricity takes energy. When harnessed properly, it helps creates power and light. Parenting, the toughest job on earth, also takes energy. Lots of it. When done well, however, it is even more empowering and, more importantly, helps kids to shine.
A belated happy Mother’s Day and an early happy Father’s Day to all those who parent children.
Bill Jones is President and CEO at United Way of Wyoming Valley. He can be reached at 829-6711, ext. 1230.