Friday, April 15, 2011

A Note on Bad Parenting

There are many things that I love about my job.  This blog, however, is not going to highlight them.  Rather, it is going to serve as a cathartic release of....annoyance.  The subject: bad parenting. 

Because of the highly confidential nature of my job, I can't reveal any specifics here and must rely on some vague generalities.  Overall, I deal with parents on a regular basis.  I am often reminded of how crucial the role of "parent" is and yet, how casually some treat it. 

In the elementary world, we are surrounded by a..... surreal reality.  What I mean is this: in the real world, it's not a huge, life changing deal if someone forgets your birthday.  However, in the elementary world, if you mother forgets to bring treats for your birthday, it is devastating.  In the real world, if one of our loved ones tells us we're crazy, we are irritated and go on with our day.  However, in the elementary world, if your parent announces to your friends that you've got problems, that is also devastating.  My point is that, I have realized that it really doesn't matter what is "real" and what is not "real".  Because in my line of work, whatever a child is feeling is "real" to them.  That is their reality. 

So when parents party on weeknights, don't come home for supper, yell to express themselves, turn on the tv and turn off their children, don't bother to launder the clothes, neglect to purchase eye glasses, avoid teacher meetings, buy "toys" and gadgets but not books and instruments, (the list really goes on and on)... it's no big surprise that their offspring do the same kinds of things.  And it is also no surprise that their children feel like they are not a priority.

To me, the saddest part is that all these children (who now might be in elementary or middle school) started out as innocent, eager learners, with wide eyes and big smiles.  They all were babies--amazed by words and actions.  They all were toddlers, amazed by objects and independence.  They all were like Charlie!  But how many of these "at risk" kids had three overflowing bookshelves like Charlie? How many of these kids live in a clean house? (Not big, just clean) How many of these kids had clean clothes and sheets every night? And here, the list goes on and on too. 

I am not (and never would be!) claiming to be a perfect parent. However, I do think that I am constantly thinking about how my actions will affect Charlie.  How will our lifestyle help/hurt him? What can we do to teach him x-y-z? What can I accomplish during his nap so that I can take advantage of interacting with him during his waking hours? This does not seem like rocket science to me--yet it seems to be something that more and more of our school children have never known.  And yet we wonder why kids are not learning in school--why aren't teachers 'producing' higher achievers (don't worry Republican friends, I'm not going to get political here)....might it be because teachers are turning into the only consistent, highly reliable, accountable, caring and nurturing adult in their lives?  Quite frankly, yes.

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