Wednesday, April 22, 2009

It does not take a community ...

Previously published by Blogcritics

Last weekend, I was sitting in the local café after my run, nursing an americano, when a public interest segment on the radio news reported that Easter was a stressful time for couples who often fought over child care duties. "Ah," I thought, as I crossed my arms behind my head and smirked like the Cheshire Cat. "No such problems here!"
But, alas, there will always be those—plenty of those—out there who act as if having a child is a universal commandment, one that every person everywhere must obey. Case in point: a few days later, supping my usual black coffee, I listened to a London talk show musing about single parenthood (re: single motherhood). Then they had some woman from some single parenthood association on the air who was arguing for more government benefits and a "community" where we all look after each other's children.
I nearly spit my coffee out when she said that. Clearly this was someone who took Hillary Clinton's It Takes A Village way too much to heart. "And by what law will I be forced to take even the slightest interest in somebody else's brat?" I thought. "I'll move to the northernmost reaches of Greenland before I'll be commanded to help bring up others' offspring."
She rambled on about how, in the current economic climate, it was wrong to make mothers work and how the child welfare money they currently receive is inadequate. "Think of it as an investment," Ms. Single Motherhood Personified urged. "We are investing in each other's children and that will help to bring them up. Why would we spend so much on defense—on killing people—when we could invest in communities that would look out for each other and their children?"
Pass the tissues please. Doesn't that just getcha right there? (Points to rear end.) Actually, pass the toilet paper. I'm about to demonstrate just what I think of that idea ...
The talk show hosts meanwhile, bless their hearts, were being polite and acting as if single motherhood is a viable, healthy lifestyle choice, but they did challenge her. By what right, they asked, did other hardworking people have to pay for others' children? Ms. SMP had no better reply than her previous one. "It's an investment," she stammered.
The monumental point she's missing is that it's not money that will bring children up properly, nor a hippie community. It's the balance that a two-parent family provides that will see children through to adulthood. Of course, given the way parents are these days, with fathers calling their sons "little buddy" while letting them run riot while the mother sits on the sofa in a state of near-total oblivion, that's no guarantee at all of an enriching upbringing. But it's still the natural state of things.
Furthermore, if you want kids, make sure you can afford them. If I had my way, all this nonsense of paying women to breed would stop straightaway. You bring up your own children on your own time and money. It's your investment, yours and yours alone. It's no-one else's concern that you brought yet another human being into the world, nor should it be. That's your affair.
Lastly, the proper upbringing of a child is not a matter of lack of disposable household income. "When I was growing up," the female talk show host asserted to Ms. SMP, "we were poor. I had nothing. I didn't have the fancy trainers [sneakers], mobile phones, Xboxes and everything else that other kids have today, no matter how poor they claim to be and no matter what their living conditions are. What happened to a parent putting their foot down and saying 'No, we cannot afford it, and that's all there is to it'? That's exactly what my mother and father alike would have said to me."
Amen. Mine as well. I worried about hurting my mother. I worried about my father hurting me. I was brought up properly. But it seems there's no more of that filial respect inspiring the little angels out there anymore.
Here in Britain, three-quarters of teachers report that increasing numbers of students have been acting rude, disrespectful and aggressive. Physical assaults, such as punching, shoving or biting, on teachers are more the rule than the exception, and 1.5 percent of teachers say they have dealt with acutal or possible incidents of students stabbing each other.
Worse yet, teachers face even more abuse from these aggressive, clueless parents who threaten them as a result of their "little angels" being disciplined or given bad grades. Ms. SMP needs to take her cue from this and put two and two together. Will she, though? I highly doubt it. Ten years from now, she'll still be wondering where her ideal community of child-care experts is and begging for more government hand-outs while she squirts out her eighteenth brat from her eighteenth man.


East of Eden said...

I will agree with you that both parents are an ideal situation, and that parents need to take a more active role in raising their children. Back when I was teaching a parent said to me," I can't tell him not to smoke pot because I did." I looked at her and I said, "Yes you can, you're the parent and get to be ironic here."

Anyway, I think much of society's proiblems if not all would be solved if parents did their jobs

goddessdivine said...

As I teacher, I would definitely agree that the level of respect in the classroom has diminished. I never could have gotten away with the stuff kids these days are doing. And yes, two-parent families is the right way to go. Ideally, families should be self-reliant and not look to the community to fill their needs. Proper instruction and raising happens within the walls of a home. This is the way to turn out productive citizens.