Let me say up front that this is not a column for the single parents on the job who
are raising responsible children and teens with a strong moral, spiritual,
and emotional foundation. You, whether your are a single mother or a single
father, deserve to be praised and commended for your efforts. However,
this is a column aimed at some of your friends who are falling short.
They need some honest and straightforward words to get their parenting
skills--and their households--back on track. Maybe YOU could relay my
column to them.
For some reason,
we have been giving SOME single parents a 'pass' out of taking responsibility
for their actions, and the actions of their children. Our juvenile court
system is crammed with young thugs, and thugettes--well below the age
of sixteen in many jurisdictions--who have been going on crime sprees
while their single parent refuses to grow up, accept responsibility,
be a PARENT. Sadly, many of these same single parents attend our churches
and other houses of worship, but WON'T change their own lifestyles in
order to grow up, and rear their own children. We have often heard that
'It takes a Village to raise a child!' Well, if we were going by TRUE
tribal tradition, the Village elders would hold a council tribunal, and
execute tribal justice on YOU and YOUR wayward child! Thank God we don't
live in a Village! As a matter of fact, IF a parent does their job, the
'Village' can focus their attention and resources on more profitable
such as the fight for Reparations for the uncompensated labors of our
ancestors in this land we call America. A few years back, one of my students
came up with an accurate assessment of the times we now live in. "Excuses,"
he noted in front of the class, "are the nails in the household of
failure." The entire room got REAL quiet when he spoke these words
let's look under your rooftop. What's REALLY going on when you and the
kids are at home: *Are YOU still drinkin', druggin', and chasing? *Are
YOU sneaking your boyfriend into your home after your kids are in bed?
*Do YOU sneak your girlfriend out of the house before your kids wake up?
*Do YOU try to embalm yourself every weekend with the latest recreational
drugs, liquor, or other substances? *Do YOU try to pick up part time cash
a few times a month by working the corners or streets? *Is YOUR idea of
'higher education' moving the television set, CD player or video player
into a bigger entertainment center? *Do YOU badmouth your Pastor, church
family, police, courts, or schools? *Did YOU get your diploma, GED, or
degree? *Does YOUR house serve as the 'drop zone' for the neighborhood
drug dealer, thief, and player? *Lastly, do YOU try to better yourself
in appearance, attitude, or responsibility? If YOU don't, your children
WON'T! Single parent; raise your OWN kid and stop pushing him/her off
on the rest of the 'Village'. Yes, unplanned things happen. However, pushing
YOUR child off on your mother, father, grandmother, grandfather, or other
relative doesn't show how you handle responsibility. It shows, instead,
your ability to run away from those things in life which will make you
act like a parent, instead of an older version of your teenager.
CAN'T FIX YOUR KID!
gone from being educators, to wardens, thanks to the actions of a few
teens (or pre-teens) in the classroom who have 'cut up' to the point that
the kids who WANT an education have to watch their learning time dwindle
away, while their teacher has to write up disciplinary form after disciplinary
form, in an attempt to get the parent of the little troublemaker to take
time out of their life to remember that they did have that baby, and it
is THEIR responsibility for discipline. The schools CAN'T fix your kid.
No matter how many books are written; no matter how many classes are established;
no matter how many courses on self-esteem, multiculturalism, or home economics
are taught, the job of a teacher is to develop the basic skills in a child
or teen in order to help them to become a functioning member of society.
Nothing more and nothing less. Your child's teacher would love to tell
this to you, but they haven't got the time! And YOU know why! In far too
many cases--you duck their phone calls and letters--until your child gets
suspended, expelled or worse from their school.
CAN'T FIX YOUR KID!
your local church, or house of worship, has a youth program, and regular
worship services does not mean they can fix your kid! The role of the
church is to provide biblical truth for your family's edification, information,
and education. The Pastor can preach it, but YOUR household has to live
and apply it! Many a Pastor's heart aches when he hears the excuses from
the single parent as their child is AGAIN in trouble with the law: *He
was afraid of the police when they told him to stop." *"She
beat that girl up because she called her a name." *"The school
just doesn't understand my teen." *"My teen was arrested because
(fill in the blank), and its not FAIR!"
AND COURTS CAN'T FIX YOUR KID!
This is REALLY
going to generate some heat! The job of the police is to arrest lawbreakers.
Not to look the other way; not to 'scold' them, and certainly not to serve
as a surrogate parent in place of the one that they already have. The
role of the police is to bring in those who have committed a crime, and
make sure that when trial day comes, the teen shows up to face the charges.
While on that subject, when a teenage lawbreaker DOES appear in court,
the only thing a judge can do is order them to face up to what they have
done, and pay the penalty for their actions. The role of the judge and
the court is to punish those who have broken the law by the handing out
of penalties ranging from community service, to restitution, to jail or--in
the extreme cases--prison. Sometimes the SAME child appears in court before
the SAME judge three, four, or five times over the course of a few short
years--often armed with their parent's excuses. It gets to a point where
a judge SEES that the child is not going to do any more than their father
or mother is going to get them to do, so THEY have no alternative but
to put the teen behind bars. Single parent--you have NOT experience life
until YOU take a tour of a jailhouse holding facility, right after the
courts have ordered teens to start serving time for their crimes.
PRISON IS NOT GOING TO FIX YOUR KID!
the stories in your local newspaper about teen criminals drawing heavy
jail or prison time, after being given chance, after chance, after chance
to change their ways--and not taking the judge at his/her word. Veteran
adult prisoners can tell you how they fear for their own safety anytime
a young lawbreaker winds up getting 'maxed out' with heavy time, or Life,
because of their crimes. Your young terror doesn't have any fear of prison
guards or other inmates, when he or she knows that they will never leave
prison alive, due to the heavy time figures tacked onto their names. They
have YOU to thank for this, single parent! Jails and Prisons are not educational
facilities. They are not rehabilitation extensions. Penal facilities are
just what they are supposed to be--warehouses for those who WON'T line
up with the social program, and STOP committing crimes. They are not very
forgiving, nor are they 'fun' places to go!
WORKERS, COUNSELORS, PSYCHOLOGISTS:
surprise! These professionals can't fix your kid either! They can talk
to her, and find out her complaints, her hatred of life, or why they deal
drugs and steal cars. Their job is to be a sounding board. Not a surrogate
parent. If the teen wants to change, these professionals encourage them
to do so with the aid of coping skills, medication, and information. However,
the teen may 'say' the right things that the mental health professional
wants to hear, but this does not mean that the teen will act on what they
have heard. How can they? If a single parent doesn't have any standards
in the home--nor intends to institute any standards--as THEY are FAR too
busy looking for the next party, or the next cable event, or the next
concert, they had better get used to spending much of their income for
therapy. That is, unless the prison becomes the ULTIMATE surrogate parent.
RE-INTRODUCE YOURSELF AS A PARENT!
that this month's column may be hard for some folks to swallow, as the
PC thing to do would be to blame everyone else, and let the single parent
off without blame or responsibility. However, if you have read my works
in the past, my frame of writing is very simple: "Why be PC when
you have right on your side?" Yes, single parent, you may, or may
not have had that child out-of-wedlock, but that doesn't give you the
right to bury your head in the sand. Guess what? That child is YOU, all
over again! Back in the day, being a single parent was STILL hard to
but single parents of the past had more backbone, took on more responsibility,
and offered FEWER excuses for their kids than some TWO parent families
did with theirs! Plus, they STILL managed to pay the bills, keep their
kids in school--and out of trouble. These days, we have a sizable group
of single parents who want to abdicate responsibility to the 'Village'
to 'fix' their child--then have the NERVE to blame the 'Village' for
end result. Well, we in the 'Village' have a word for you. It's called
RESPONSIBILITY! Best raise your OWN kid, before they wind up on the television