Whether the topic is poor performance in school or juvenile crime, the issues of no father in the home, teenage mothers or grandparents or others as guardian immediately surface, the composition of today’s families become the focus rather than the needs of the child.
The appearance of families documents the social revolution of this culture. High divorce rates and increased sexual activity among singles create one-parent homes or homes with step-parents, single women birthing and raising children alone, same sex partners, large numbers of children in foster care all contribute to the changes in a family’s composition. Add to these the fact that today more mothers are employed outside the home than ever before (if they haven’t lost their jobs in this current downturn), possibly altering the effectiveness of the traditional two-parent home.
Given all the possible appearances of today’s families, its job remains the same. From the beginning of time the family has been the foundation of society, being its smallest unit. A child is nurtured in the family. Moral, spiritual, educational and social development begins there. Relationships ( healthy or not) with family last a lifetime and create the pattern for future relationships because it is within the family that children form a sense of who they are and that will influence or determine the choices they make in life.
My childhood was marred by a father whom I loved dearly returning home from work out of town on weekends drunk, cursing and threatening my mother who would grab me and flee the house, staying at a neighbors until he sobered up and returned to his quiet norm.
Around the age of four, my mother’s leaving me with my father as I cried to go with her to church (because my hair was not combed) led to my interpretation that I was not good enough. After taking numerous human potential workshops, I uncovered the emotional scars and healed them. Until that time my relationships with men and women were replicas of that with my mother and I have longed for peaceful relationships among people.
The importance and impact of family has not changed. The statistics that institutions publicize as theirs — whether it is schools, prisons, foster care agencies or other — are really statistics on the effectiveness of families.
The time is now for us to heal ourselves so that we heal our families and restore the village. We’ve been programmed to give parenting its props.
When institutions become responsible for the education and socialization of our children, failure is the only predictable outcome. The average of 20 youth to one adult (before Mr. Bloomberg’s cut) insures that. When the family and community abdicate their responsibility, our children become fodder for the maintenance and expansion of government businesses, i.e. Special Ed, Foster Care, Prisons and Military. While government statistics are just that – numbers, the family and community are intimately affected by the plight of the human being behind the statistic.
Children have needs and unless those needs are met, we can expect behaviors ranging from low achieving to destructive. Plants need varying amounts of water, light and soil to thrive. Those needs are non-negotiable. Children’s needs are also non-negotiable. What are we, adults, going to do?
We can begin to check our interaction with children. These are behaviors which lower feelings of self-worth. Do you 1) tell them they are bad 2) tell them they’re good only when they behave properly 3)constantly catch them doing something wrong 4) calling child names like shorty, dumbo, fatso, etc. 5) give orders without explaining why or say do it because I say so 6)always do and think for them, 7) harshly criticize child when a mistake is made 8)speak for your child instead of allowing him or her to speak for self.
If you checked any one of these, you have an invitation to explore with me in the journey toward discovering the child’s individual intelligences, converting behaviors to needs and doing the same for self. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Parents’ Notebook Alert!!!
***There are opportunities for youth ages 14 – 18 to participate in the Youth Justice Board, an after-school program (2011-2012). The program allows young people to learn firsthand how important decisions are made at the City level, and to influence local policy and practice. Members receive a stipend. Applications due June 24th. For further info: call 646-386-5925.