Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Parents are the problem

Here in Indiana we had storms move through overnight, so I am tired and grumpy. Maybe not the best way to kick off writing month because the frustration is more raw.

So many educators push back against criticism of the education system laying the blame on poverty. Yes, there are hungry children.  Yes, there are homes where kids lack shelter. And absolutely a child can't learn if he is hungry or she is homeless. We need to help those children.

But, I am going to be controversial and lay the criticism at the feet of parents. Children are not a "To-Do" list item to cross off your life goals list.

 "My body- my choice" should not refer to the life that grows inside a woman. The choice a woman makes should be to have intercourse or not.

Most birth control is pretty effective if used correctly. Not having sex is 100% effective. Choose the father of your child carefully. They will be a part of your child's life for the rest of your life.

Once you have children, they become important. Yes, you need to remember who you are, but who you are is not the same as the you before kids. Kids shouldn't necessarily be the center of your universe, but they should rank above your sex life. Kids have steps, Halfs, and mom's boyfriend's kids that they call a sibling. A child should have a home. Not a favorite suitcase.

The latest movie may be something you are looking forward to. Hire a baby sitter. Dead Pool is not for 8 year olds or 7 year olds or 6 year olds. Dead Pool is rated R -- that means you should be over the age of 17. That should be a hint that you maybe at least preview it-- to see if it would be ok. And for the record, it still isn't for a 6, 7, or 8 year old.

My husband went to a presentation a long time ago where they discussed  poverty. The notion that people in poverty live for NOW. If they get money they spend it right away on "fun things" because they don't know when they will get money again. My friends who have been teaching for a long time confirm this.  They say they will visit a family at their home and there will be a big screen TV and multiple game consoles and games. However, the kids won't have a bed. And there isn't a table or chairs where they can eat. Where does the concept that an adult's happiness overrules their responsibilities as a parent? And why do we let it slide with a shrug of the shoulders or a frustrated sigh and think if only the parent(s) had more government money things would be better for the children?

We can throw all the money in the world at the poverty dilemma, but it won't change the mindset.

I grew up with government cheese and powdered milk. My dad hated having a boss telling him what to do, so he worked for himself a lot. Christmas was thrift store finds or homemade gifts. As soon as I started babysitting at 11, I was, for the most part, the one who bought my own clothes. I heard my mom beg for more time to pay bills. I know she was embarrassed when she had to use food stamps.  Because they didn't have much money or any real financial stability, when my dad died my mom negotiated a bargain price on cremation based on the fact the funeral home had handled many of her family's funerals --and locked in the price for herself. I have been there-- in the poverty cycle. And I don't feel sorry for myself.

My parents didn't provide monetary things. My parents provided stability. They provided expectations. They provided boundaries.  There was a point in time that I thought them selfish for not providing for us all the things I thought I "needed." After working with kids whose parents get more government money than my parents ever did, but spend it on fun-- not caring they aren't providing for their kids, makes me grateful. I am grateful that while I still think my dad was selfish for not keeping a job because he didn't like being told what to do, they put food on the table and gave us values. They stayed together for nearly 60 years until death parted them. And that is after losing a child when she was 5. They didn't give up because things were hard.

So stop putting the blame on the government not doing enough, or having a high enough minimum wage, or think throwing more government  money at people who still manage to fund cigarettes and beer is the answer.  I am not smart enough to say what THE answer is, but I honestly believe making excuses isn't it.

Why the diatribe? It gets frustrating when kids are rude, disrespectful, and even violent and we don't want to bother the parents. These incidents have happened this week. Obviously I can't go into details but the one in particular is not even from poverty. The one is from selfish parents who put their own needs before their child's. And will continue to do so because parenting is hard. And parents aren't expected to put in their best effort if they don't want to.

"You can't tell a parent how to be a parent."

Maybe not. But maybe there could be a rubric?

I'll be less grouchy tomorrow.


  1. Yes. I appreciate your honest thinking - we can't just throw money or resources at people. I like how you pointed out that "Once you have children, they become important." We expect parents to give a good effort, just like we expect our fellow teachers and ourselves to do the same.

  2. Everything you wrote is true! Maybe we need more instruction in parenting, my principal used to say schools could be more successful if parents would let us take the kids when they are born, teach them and give them back to the parents when they turn 18.