Beware to Aware

Beware to Aware

My Post Aware.jpg

My consulting company may be called Worry Proof, but this summer I am focusing on the second half over the first, emphasizing the proof over the worry, being aware over beware. I don’t think I will ever look back.

Being ware – if that’s a thing – isn’t bad. But everything about “beware” connotes negativity. Beware of the monsters, the toxins, the rules, the haters. In my life as a pediatrician, I have taught kids and their parents to beware; as an author I have written about it endlessly; and holy smokes, as a parent I am constantly flagging my kids to take heed.

But beware is selfish: it’s about you and what you can do to protect yourself. Okay, maybe you can expand the warning to family or friends, readers or followers. But inherently, it’s narcissistic. Awareness, on the other hand, is often massively bigger than yourself. It is wide-eyed, alert, and generally positive or at the very least proactive. Awareness is the A side of the album, the best first listen, first impression, first step.

Awareness is to thank for this week’s turn of political events at the U.S. southern border, where over the course of just a few days, Americans took note of a policy to separate immigrant children from their parents and, independent of where in the country they live or what political party they support, said this is not okay. Beware of immigrants shifted to be aware of humanity. It took many voices to turn this tide, but once they began to speak up they created a deafening chorus of It’s Not Okay, from the president of the American Academy of Pediatrics to members of congress (both R and D) to TV talking heads to bloggers with large and small followings alike. Awareness doesn't impose an opinion – there was no mandate about what people were supposed to think or say – it simply holds a mirror up to life to create clarity. At the border, things rapidly became crystal clear.

Plus, awareness is an unbelievable parenting tool. Not to bring this post down 12 levels, but during the first few days of summer vacation it was a battle to get my kids off of their devices. When I finally shut up and simply showed them a tally of the minutes and hours (mostly hours!) of use thanks to my handy Circle app, they became aware. They put the phones down, well mostly, and one newly teenage boy in particular stopped asking for constant Fortnite. Awareness did some of the parenting for me.

Awareness is part gratitude, part latitude. It means being thankful for what you are experiencing, but in equal parts being attuned to your present circumstances. It provides a rationale for rules, opinions, and ideas; but it also gives you wiggle room to pivot from your routine. Awareness is both profound and very simple all at once. It is global and it is local. This week, awareness changed the life course of thousands of children and their families for the better. It’s a frameshift that is long overdue and I am sticking with it.