Thursday, February 10, 2005

My issue

Since starting my blog, I have uncovered an issue which gets me charged up and angry: the attack on parental rights. This has become apparent to me as I ponder what to write about each day and I find my interest repeatedly peaked in this area. To be honest, until recently I hadn't realized what a widespread and common problem this is.

An article at highlights a few incidents that have occurred across the nation. Most recently is the story of two boys, ages 9 and 10, who were handcuffed and arrested by the police because they drew pictures of stick figures inflicting harm on a fellow student. I suppose what stops me cold is the fact that no violence whatsoever occurred, yet the boys were arrested. You add the fact that the parents were not notified until after the police were contacted, and I get angry, and to be honest, I hope you do too!

Now, if either of my boys, ages 8 and 10, drew a violent scene such as the Florida boys did, I would be horrified. And if someone drew a picture depicting harm towards my boys, I would be horrified AND scared. But the answer to the problem is not handcuffs and police cars, but rather a parent conference.

A parent's job is to teach and train their children to be responsible people. If you've been a parent for any length of time, you have realized that one effective time of teaching and training comes, unfortunately, after the child has done something wrong. This is when you sit down and talk with your child and apply consequences appropriate to the situation. In the case of the Florida boys, for example, a parent might insist that the boys make an apology to the child and the parents of the child depicted in the drawing, discuss and maintain definite guidelines in regards to the treatment of people, physical punishment and/or a consequence such as restriction of certain priviledges. In other words, doing what it takes to DIRECT the child towards right living and thinking. This is what good parents do and what most children will respond to.

I am not sure exactly where this usurping of parental authority stems from. Either institutions, most commonly the public school system, have blindsided us by stepping over boundaries as they choose and, basically, are trying to do our job of parenting for us because they deem us incapable. Or parents, because of laziness, busyness, unwillingness or lack of interest, have set their responsibility aside and left it undone, leaving a gap for someone to fill. I sense that the reason lies somewhere between the two.

Wherever the problem started, the answer lies within the parents. We need to start taking seriously our job of parenting and we need to elevate that job above our careers, friends, community and church involvement and entertainment. This is true, by the way, for fathers as well as mothers. In parenting, as in all things, when a gap is left void, someone or something will eventually come along and fill it. My hope is that, for our children, parents will fill that gap.