My sister called me yesterday in a state of high agitation. She had sent me this story, and asked that I post it on my blog. “I was SCREAMING at the television, Chili. It’s a wonder my landlord didn’t come over to find out what was wrong with me.” My sister works with children – troubled teen girls, to be exact – and takes her work very seriously. She’s doing good in the world, and working against those who make her job necessary in the first place.
This story is yet another, horribly tragic example of how we, as a society, are just failing; failing at being citizens, failing at being parents, failing at being human. (go ahead and read the article – I’ll wait…) That this little girl could have been diagnosed with a personality disorder at four years old is simply criminal. That her parents continued to administer drugs to her at all is stupefying – that they administered her a fatal overdose challenges my ability to comprehend, much less express. It is examples like this one that answer the question posed by a bumper sticker I saw the other day: “Where are we going, and why are we in this handbasket?”
Look; I understand that parenting is hard work. It’s a marathon run from the moment the kid is born (some could argue that it starts before that, but I had easy pregnancies, so I can’t represent that, myself). To be honest with you, I’m not sure that a good parent ever reaches the proverbial finish line, either. The point here, though? It’s hard work that can be made easier by being mindful of your JOB as a parent. Establish and maintain clear rules and boundaries. Be the grown-up! Blame for many of the problems that I see, both in my classroom and out in the real world, can be rightly laid at the door of parents who don’t do their jobs, and it infuriates me to think of how the children suffer for it.
I’ve been having a lot of conversations with people lately about why we seem to be having such a difficult time of things. Why do parents allow their children to run rampant? Why are my college students coming to me with almost no skills, but with an overdeveloped sense of entitlement? Why are my friends, who teach in high school, hog-tied by the fact that they can’t enforce attendance rules or grading standards because the parents complain to administrators and school boards? My husband thinks it’s because our generation of parents, and the ones a few years ahead of us, have been products of the two-parent income culture and many make up for time not spent with their children by providing materially for their needs. These kids don’t have a foundation to work from, and it frightens me.
I don’t know what a good and fitting punishment would be for the parents who drugged their four year old daughter to death. I don’t know, most of the time, how to effectively teach the children who come into my sphere about personal responsibility and accountability because I’m working against their backgrounds of entitlement. I am fanatically serious about my job as a parent, but I worry that’s not enough.
I don’t have any answers, and I tremble at the thought of the future.
*It turns out that there was a dropped investigation prior to the little girl’s death. As if the story weren’t tragic enough*