06/15/09 — Thank a parent: There are just not that many around anymore who do the job

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Thank a parent: There are just not that many around anymore who do the job

As always, the focus is on the graduates who took their diplomas this past week -- as it should be.

But behind those caps, gowns and smiles are years of support from people who do not often get the immediate recognition they deserve.

Sure, there are lots of "Hi Moms" in the crowd and many seniors and others who take the time to thank their parents after they take home their diplomas or move on to middle or high school.

But the truth is that no one -- except for the other parents who might be standing around -- really understands the heartache, the worry, the stress and the roller coaster of ups and downs that are all part of the job of being a parent.

The good ones have spent their lives sacrificing and pushing -- hoping that they would see a high school and, later, a college graduation.

This past week was a culmination for them of all those sleepless nights and tough decisions.

They have really achieved something. They have set a young person on the right path, with the right start in life.

But what about the rest of those parents. The ones who weren't there or whose children are 18 and already in trouble.

What went wrong?

There just are too many people who really do not understand that being a parent is about more than simply birthing or fathering a child.

They do not understand or accept the responsibility that goes along with bringing a child into the world -- and making sure that boy or girl grows up with the skills, the manners and the sense of right and wrong he or she needs to become a productive adult.

The reason there are so many young people who are facing failure in school, and why there are so many more who have juvenile arrest records already, is that there are too many parents who refuse to be parents.

They are selfish, shiftless and bad examples for their children -- and often, too concerned with their own existence to bother with their children's health or happiness.

These parents do not know -- or care -- where their children are or what they are doing, period.

And, the best part is, they are making more even though they cannot properly care for the ones they have.

Being a good parent does not require gobs of money. There are plenty of examples of well-to-do parents whose offspring are less than shining examples in the character department.

But what is absolutely required is the responsibility to put your children's needs first and to do whatever work is necessary to make sure they eat, sleep and live with a future in mind.

A good parent wants a better life for his or her child -- not a child to make his or her life better. And there are too many who do not understand that distinction.

And until we do something about the number of people who are already neglecting their children and yet are producing more -- and those who use their children as meal tickets -- we have no hope of fixing the problems in our schools or our communities.

Fixing society really starts with fixing parents.

Published in Editorials on June 15, 2009 10:58 AM