Worlds of imagination by Sara B. Gauldin
Upon observing the current crop of young people I see an alarming rate of children who are raising themselves. There are other children who are being fine tuned into rude beasts and near-do-wells. While there are many wonderful parents working every day to improve upon the lives of their children, there are an increasing number of individuals who are not putting forth he needed effort, actions, and follow through to achieve successful results. This observation is not intended to be a purveyor of judgment, but rater at attempt at analyzing the causes and therefore the possibility of improving upon the situation.
The most blatant change I see stems from an evolution in cultural structure and norms. The nuclear family based on a patriarchal structure that was common place one hundred and even fifty years ago is now the exception rather than the common place. Many wonderful children have been raised in non-traditional homes, but I conjecture that having more than one individual who is responsible for children is helpful to be able to more fully focus on the needs of the child. Further, years ago a family could be supported on one income, leaving one parent, usually the mother with more time at home and with the children as an area of focus. Today’s economy demands a dual income family to make the same ends meet. Most two parent families today are dual income families and many women value the opportunity to pursue a career. This does not make them bad mothers by definition, but it does place constraints on time. Many more fortunate families find themselves in a tug-of war between time and money. They may work nonstop and not have time to enjoy the spoils, or they may find themselves under employed and not have the money to enjoy or utilize the time fully. Either scenario has a direct correlation to the child who is not participating in the work world. Many children are faced with a dual income family that leaves them with inadequate parental time or supervision, or in a situation where the parent or parents are underemployed and the child is faced with the very real challenges of poverty that chokes the opportunities for enrichment out of the garden of possibility. There are many variations on this trend. Nontraditional family units such as children raised by gay or lesbian couple are faced with the same challenges of time versus money.
The attached families who are spending all of their energies on making ends meet are generally more fortunate. The alternative is the single parent family. Of course single parents do not love their children any less than any other sub group. They are faced with challenges that attached homes are not. A single parent is obligated to support the child or children involved while simultaneously providing child care, educational support and enrichment. Often parents find themselves in a situation where they make less money at work than they will be obligated to pay in transportation and child care. This situation leads to children who grow up in poverty. When parents have to choose between working constantly for a meager wage while sacrificing time with children or giving up on working and relying on the possibility of child support or welfare it is a sad situation. Either way the child is going with out something they need to ensure the best possibility for success. It may be nutrition, shelter, time, educational support, enrichment, or just the time they need to form a genuine relationship and bond that allows them to learn from the parent.
The expression “It takes a village to raise a child.” comes to mind. We as a society depend less and less on the extended family in a constructive way. Years ago families stayed near one another and helped one another with the child rearing task. Today many families raise their children in isolation. Many people move far from the family of origin for the purpose of pursuing a career. Again the pursuit of financial stability takes a stab at the family structure. This lack of help from grandparents, aunts and uncles means less people to help the child move towards being a productive human being, and less age old wisdom being passed down to the children. There is a flip side to this coin. There are many parents today who do not actively parent at all. Rather their offspring is left to family member or society at large due the original parents being unwilling or unable to properly care for their offspring.
The increase in misplaced children; those who have been moved for the original parents by circumstances or court order is a sad trend in today’s world. Many of these situations are related to substance abuse on the part of the parent or parents. A culture of permissiveness has come to keep company with a culture of strain for financial security. This permissive attitude can lead directly to negative family situations. Persons who are under financial strain, or who have too much free time are more likely to become involved with drugs, be they legal or illicit in an attempt to fill the void of time or to ease the strain of constantly striving forward. More and more this behavior is considered socially acceptable. It is more commonplace. There are other loosenings of the belt that compound the problem. Years ago promiscuity was much less socially acceptable. Of course people have always had a biological urge to propagate the species. Over time is has become more common to propagate out of wedlock, forming more single parent families who face strain. It has become more common to propagate with passing acquaintances who do not keep new familiar ties or financial ones in the form of support. It has also become more acceptable to propagate large groups of children in order to garner financial support from the government. This is a self-perpetuating situation, the more children produced, the more demand for income increases, so that the need in never actually filled despite the increase in benefit.
When all of these factors are put into play, the instance of children who are not being lead down a positive path increases. The acceptance of negative life situations such as drug use and dependence on the welfare system becomes more and more commonplace to each generation. Sadly, even the parents who have managed to properly raise their children are faced with sending them out into the world where deviant behavior is becoming the norm. Peer pressure speaks volumes and many of these children despite the best of situations and parenting skills are being sucked in to a cultural trend that is degrading he futures of our nation’s youth.
Of course other elements are at play. Many will point to an end to corporal punishment. Other will mention the failings of the increasingly overburdened educational system that faces children that have never been raised, children faced with biological damage from drug addiction, and an increasing population of children who have major medical problems, learning disabilities, autism, delays due to premature birth that are resulting from a tandem of new medicines saving children who years ago would not have thrived and an ever changing array of chemical influences in the form of legal and illegal drugs, food additives, pollution and pesticides.
In truth, all of these factors make the difficult task of sculpting a child into a moral and productive member of society, let alone an educated and intelligent one more and more difficult. Perhaps by drawing attention to the root of the problems more people will be inspired to reach out and try to make a difference in these trends. There is much work to be done. Daily there is more and more demand for volunteers, tutors, mentors, religious leaders, substance abuse support. The “family” is no longer the only sort of “village” who must raise a child. We as a society need to step up and be the system of support and enrichment these children need to turn the tide of negatives into a sea of positives. Every child holds unique gifts and the potential for great things. We cannot afford to continue to allow this trend to threaten the children of our community and the citizens of the future.
Don’t miss Sara B. Gauldin’s amazing books! Click HERE!
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