The following is an excerpt from Dr. James Dobson's book "Home with a Heart," a compilation of encouraging commentaries for today's families:
I remember sitting in my car at a fast-food restaurant eating a hamburger and French fries, when I happened to look in the rearview mirror. There I saw the most pitiful, scrawny, dirty little kitten on a ledge behind my car. I was so touched by how hungry he looked that I tore off a piece of my hamburger and tossed it to him. But before this kitten could reach it, a huge gray tomcat sprang out of the bushes, grabbed the morsel, and gobbled it down. I felt so sorry for the little guy, who turned and ran back into the shadows, still hungry and frightened.
I was immediately reminded of my years as a junior high school teacher. I saw teenagers every day, who were just as needy, just as deprived, just as lost as that little kitten. It wasn't food that they required; it was love and attention and respect that they needed, and they were desperate for it. And just when they opened up and revealed the pain inside, one of the more popular kids would abuse and ridicule them, sending them scurrying back into the shadows, frightened and alone.
We, as adults, must never forget the pain of trying to grow up and the competitive world in which many adolescents live today. Taking a moment to listen, to care and to direct such a youngster may be the best investment of a lifetime.