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The Black Cornerempty posted on: 12.01
Mike Ramey Mike Ramey
Tough Talk for Single Parents!
by Mike Ramey
The Manhoodline
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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, and 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 ventures, 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 of wisdom.

Single parent, 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.

Teachers have 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.

Just because 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!"

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.

You've read 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!

Surprise, 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.

I realize 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 do; 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 the 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 news.

The 'Village' has spoken!

Mike Ramey is the author of "The Manhood Line" a column written monthly for men from a biblical, business, and common-sense perspective. To correspond, drop an email to
Copyright Mike Ramey/Barnstorm Communications. The opinions expressed are those of the author and are used by permission.

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