Nothing seems to stir up a group of people more than a commentary on parenting. Many people believe that parents are actually responsible for raising their children, not turning them over to the government to make their parenting responsibilities easier, or at times, take their choices away. Through legislation, regulations, and the expectations of our public school system to do all the work, we turn our children over to others to raise.
Why are there not regulations regarding who should be parents? We have to pass a test to get our driver’s license, to practice a trade, or to get a job, but there is not a certification to be allowed to be a parent. Anyone can reproduce, whether they are mature or stable enough to take care of their children, whether the child is a product of carelessness or misfortune, wanted or not. Some people who stumble into parenthood come out as wonderful, caring parents while others sentence their children to a life without guidance or support.
The irresponsible parents choose not to properly care for their children, but instead push their parental responsibilities off on schoolteachers, television and video games, along with feeding their children whatever is convenient with little regard to nutritional content. Once the child inevitably fails, these “parents” are the first people to point the finger at someone else claiming the system failed their child. Why not blame everyone but themselves, they have pushed the task they chose to undertake onto others.
Whatever happened to family values putting an emphasis on raising children and guiding them through their early years? Though our society has changed from a home with a stay-at-home mother to one that has both parents working, does that mean we should just give up on our responsibilities to our children? Instead of teaching values like hard work to the children, we show them that effort is not required. Parents model behavior. No motivation to cook a meal for the family-have food delivered. Break something in the house-don’t even attempt to fix it- go buy a replacement. Children pick up these lessons quickly. No effort put forth in school resulting in low grades-blame the teachers. When punishment inconveniences the adults’ plans, then give in to the child, consequences to our actions do not really matter right? Is this a way to build our future generations? Each generation becomes more complacent and self-entitled without regard to hard work and respect. Yet as these role-model deficient kids get older, they are the first people to shout injustice when they do not get what they want.
Let us review the changes that have weakened the family and respect of our youth:
- Within the past 20 years, corporal punishment has been removed from our public school system and replaced with suspension. So, let’s look at this from another perspective. If a child skips class they are punished by being barred from the very class they didn’t attend in the first place. Then parents get outraged because they have to make arrangements for child care during the suspension. Do they get upset at the child? No, they scream at the school system. However, these are the same parents that were outraged by their child getting “swats” in the first place.
- The failing of the school system, due to the higher expectations and lack of parental involvement, prompted the federal government to institute the “No Child Left Behind” program in the mid-nineties. This program shifted the focus of education away from improving overall education to that of a school system report card, reflected in the state-wide testing. Any school that does not meet a certain testing grade for their overall district was penalized. With the fear of losing funding or accreditation, the focus shifted only to the areas covered by these tests. The teaching of life skills and other areas that will help to build a more balanced child have been removed from curricula, deemed further down the priority list than math, science and reading skills. In theory “No Child Left Behind” would have been a good program had it focused on the education of children, but instead it was underfunded and became a way to target schools and specific teachers
- As bad as “No Child Left Behind” was, the “Common Core Standards” are much worse. With Common Core the basic flaws are two-fold. First Common Core completely dummies-down the curriculum while making simple processes harder. Take a look online at Common Core Math. Children get the bare basics education and forget anything enriching. While the program stresses reading, our reading skills have deteriorated to the point of near illiteracy in high schools. Secondly, Common Core does not focus on the students’ learning but rather on the teachers-who are not allowed to teach-once again not holding the right people accountable.
- The hundreds of television stations are not a cause for concern, but the change in focus to commercialized shows geared for toddlers, under the pretense of being educational, has encouraged parents to start allowing children to watch more and more television. The convenience of putting their child in front of the television instead of interacting with them, has encouraged many parents to use the TV as a babysitter. Shows in the toddler/preteen genre are used to primarily market products and reach viewers during the most influential and developmentally important years of kids’ lives. The early indoctrination into a life of television has shown a decrease in developmental skills. In addition the added television viewing obviously is adding to the rampant childhood obesity in the US by promoting a sedentary lifestyle early on.
While there have always been irresponsible and bad parents, it seems as though there are more now, or maybe the shortcut parenting is just more acceptable in society. What is it going to take for parents to become parents again? Having a child is more than just about giving birth. From the moment a child takes their first breath, the parents are supposed to be there to guide them, show them how to be someone who commands and give respect, possesses a desire for accomplishments, and holds honesty as a desired trait. Being a parent is a lifelong task. It does not end with conception, with labor or the eighteenth birthday. We are supposed to teach, guide and show our children how to be a better people, productive members of society, people of character. It takes time, effort, and patience. Tough choices must be made and sacrifices are required. It takes more than existence and presence to be a parent. Stand against the norm, if that is what it takes.
Until next time…