Thursday, August 12, 2010

Have we as parents completely abdicated our roles?

First off, the following is a rant, it's rather political in nature, but it's also a rant.

It seems each day I read news about another law passed to protect our children. I must confess that I live in New Jersey, appropriately named the nanny state, and we have more laws "protecting" our children than most. For example, children in the state of New Jersey are required by law to wear helmets when they ride bikes and scooters. We also have one of the oldest minimum driving ages at 17. And a new law that imposes special restrictions on "teen drivers". In addition NJ tried (unsuccessfully) to make smoking in your car with a child present a crime.

I started wondering "How did we reach the point in this state that people are eager to allow the government to parent their children?" And then I found the answer in a most surprising place. I was attending a birthday party for one of my daughter's classmates. Another parent was bemoaning the fact that her child missed the public school cut off for Kindergarten and would be repeating Kindergarten with my daughter at their private Pre-School. Specifically she said "I really don't know what she is going to do, she already knows how to read." My response was "Yeah, Sarah knows how to read as well, I spoke to the teacher and they will give her more challenging books to read." Her response shocked me speechless "Oh wow you worked with her at home, I never considered that."

I literally could think of a thing to say. Because what I was thinking would have made me a pariah in the Mommy circle and perhaps given Sarah no attendees at her birthday party. Because what I was thinking followed along something like this:

"You never considered reading a bed time story to your child? You never had your child ask you how to spell something? You never had your child want to repeat the page you just read? Your child never made up their own story by looking at the pictures in a book?" I could obviously go on.

Because I believe that I am my child's first teacher and it doesn't stop when she learns to walk and talk. That's just when it starts to get interesting. It also doesn’t end when they start real school. My school, my community, my lawmakers are not raising my children, I am. I was responsible for bringing them into this world and I am responsible for producing responsible citizens. I look at the alternative and see how ridiculous it is. It’s like taking your dog to obedience school and then not training them at home. It’s like going to church on Sunday and lying the rest of the week. It’s like being elected to congress and then doling out favors to the people who helped your campaign or directly to your family members.

Wait a minute, I guess I’m starting to see the bigger issue. The citizens of this country are eager to give over their parental duties to the government because that also abdicates their responsibility. And we all know how every one in this country is so very eager to accept personal responsibility.

Our news cycle this morning was eye opening.
We started with the former Illinois Governor hoping for a hung jury in a corruption scandal where he was “just the fall guy.”
Then jumped to reports of Rangel partying last night a day after telling the House of Representatives he was not backing down, he just did not understand tax laws.
To Maxine Waters saying she did nothing wrong in steering finances to a bank her husband had stock in.
To finally a footnote to how long our political process has been corrupt Dan Rostenkowski & Ted Stevens deaths were announced, both of whom were charged with corruption, the former spending 17 months in jail.

Ironically, Rostenkowski thought he was the victim too.


  1. Elisabeth,
    You wouldn't believe how many times, as a first grade teacher, I was told by a parent that THEIR child is MY responsibility while they are in school and so if there was a behavior issue I needed to handle it myself! Also, that they send their child to school to be taught so why should they have to do homework with them (which was reading to/with their child, working on 5 new words for the week, and practicing math skills)?

    Give me a break!

  2. Staci, now that I am on child 4 entering Kindergarten, I think that it doesn't surprise me at all.
    I've seen all kinds of parents....