Wednesday, June 11, 2014

A Parenting Nightmare

Today when I opened up Yahoo I came across the story of a Utah man who is accused of chaining his six-year old son to his bed. It was disturbing on several levels. Perhaps the part that frightens me most is my fear that we will come across more and more stories like this one. 
Politically this country does not take care of its self. With out of control spending by the government the economy has been severely trashed. The examples the leaders of this country set are that it is okay to spend more than you have. If you believe you have good cause then bad behavior can be excused. If you use the money to help someone else, it doesn't matter how you get it. These examples are from both major political parties and have been increasing for years.
With government stepping into homes taking responsibility for raising children, while requiring parents to learn none, we have parents who do not know a good parental decision from a bad one. We have children growing up with no real values being instilled in them. I'm not saying there is no value in social services. I believe they are necessary. However I do believe people need to be held responsible for their decisions, good or bad. Natural consequences are not a bad thing. 
If government wants to step into our homes they should begin by setting the example with the nation's biggest home. All officials, (the parents), should be setting the example of being able to set aside differences to work together for the benefit of the nation, ( the family). They should set the example of living within their means. Just as those of us with credit card issues need to formulate a pay off plan we can live with, so our leaders should do with the nation's debt. Yes it involves sacrifice. They could start by adjusting salaries to reflect what the people of this country make. The money saved could be filtered in to paying down debt. Perhaps with these adjusted salaries they would truly come to understand the problems we the people endure and what we really need. They should set the example of fair fighting: No name calling. Stay on track with the issue. If things get heated a cooling off time out period, giving time to think about what was said. Respect and attempt to understand the other person's view of the situation. A strong home will make a strong nation. 
As for the article, I do not know this man or what the circumstances actually were. From reading the article, (which can be found at, let's take an imaginary walk in his shoes. I'll be making assumptions so please keep in mind this is an imaginary walk.
The man in the story became a father at age 22. The child had a mother at this time. The parents have high school or less education. They are not making the big bucks. They are intimate with poverty. A year after the child was born the man was arrested for forgery. Maybe it was a party lifestyle but more likely it was the unending need for shelter, food for an infant and 2 adults, an endless need for diapers, wipes, clothes that are too small before they are well used and way overpriced, toys - many of which are overpriced and labelled as educational leaving some parents feeling they are keeping their child from educational development if they do not buy them, hygiene products and possibly an occasional dvd the parents really wanted to watch but fell asleep before they could. The dad is placed on probation. The family is struggling to make it. Maybe mom is staying at home because child care is too expensive, the slots are full or there is no way to get him there. Maybe mom is working but her paycheck is going for the cost of childcare and that dvd they wanted to watch. Maybe dad is working but with no major education or job skills he is barely able to pay the necessities of shelter costs and food. Maybe mom and dad are fighting a lot at this point. Dad knows he is looked at, by society and most likely family, as the "man" who is failing
 in his responsibility to provide for his family. He turns back to crime - maybe he can get just one more check to go through without getting caught and bring home some tylenol, ear drops and maybe a little car for his crying three year old son. But it doesn't happen that way. Dad is caught and goes to jail. Mom is now alone with a three year being both mom and dad. Maybe she looks at her life and wonders where it went. Dad comes home thinking they can pick up the pieces. He missed his wife and son. He is sure, with a little help, they can make it. But finding a job with a record is proving difficult. Nobody believes in his change. Maybe not even his wife who is just exhausted and depressed. Maybe she decides to try to get her life back and leaves. Maybe she gets ill and dies. Maybe she ends up in jail. Whatever the reason she is gone. Now it is Dad and son. Dad knows the path he is on. Not many believe in a dad raising a child. He has the added stigma of a criminal record, never mind the reason or the change. He does his best but he faces all the responsibility alone and the issue of childcare. He may think that reaching out for help will get his son taken away. After all he is not just a single dad; he is an ex-con single dad. Maybe he turned everywhere he trusted but there was no help. So he makes a bad decision to keep the wolf from the door. Maybe he goes to work worried, scared and feeling awful about that decision. He probably knows it was a bad decision. Not working and providing no shelter and no food for his six year old is a bad decision too. Maybe he took the bad decision he could live with. Maybe he prays constantly for a miracle or just a little compassion and help.
You may think the scenario I wrote of is making excuses. It is not. What happened could have ended much more tragically. I do not advocate any type of child abuse, intentionally done or not. It is my fervent hope that this case is investigated completely and the child's best interest is what is the priority. My point of the imaginary walk is that many parents in this country face many of the issues I brought up. They may think in extremes. They may feel judged harshly so they seek no help. As a nation we need to stop judging each other and start finding real solutions. We need to all be responsible for ourselves, our family, the community and the nation. We need to teach this responsibility to our children. We need to demand it of our elected officials.  

Judgment is only good if it helps bring a positive change. 

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