The family way: With so many parents not equipped to raise children, it's not just a private matter
There are some realities that go along with having a child.
They are inescapable -- and no amount of "free to be me" or calls for personal privacy erase them.
When you have a baby, it your responsibility to care for it. You are charged with keeping it safe and making sure it has the clothes, food and shelter it needs. You should offer it a stable home, with two stable parents, if possible, or you should make sure that you are prepared to be the mother and father if that ideal situation is not possible.
As that baby grows into a small child, and beyond, your responsibilities do not end. You are charged with making sure that youngster gets an education and learns the skills he or she needs to create a life for him or herself.
Your needs become secondary and your interests focused on making sure you care for the life you brought into the world.
That is how you do it if you are going to do it right.
And if you cannot live up to those responsibilities or aren't sure you want to, you have an obligation to take the appropriate steps to make sure you do not have a child in the first place. Or, if you find yourself in a situation where an accident has occurred or where you cannot be the parent your child deserves, you have an obligation to find, legally, a loving family for the child you brought into the world.
It is as simple as that really.
But anymore, there seem to be more and more people having one or multiple babies when they simply cannot afford to have them or when they have no real interest in caring for them.
And that is dangerous for those who are left to pick up the pieces.
There is nothing sadder than the story of a child who has been abused or neglected -- and there are plenty of them across the country, many of whom slip through the cracks in the massively overworked social services system. Such a child has little hope of breaking the cycle of poverty without the role models or love and support he or she needs to take a new path.
And we pay the price in more welfare, more hopelessness, more crime, more gaps that schools just cannot fill.
It is not a right to have a child. It is a sacred responsibility -- and a decision that should not be made lightly.
As we look forward to the world we want to be, we need to examine how we want to take care of the children who will be part of it -- and to figure out a way to discipline those who choose to ignore their duties as parents.
If we don't, we won't be able to care for the generations of children who will be damaged as a result.
Published in Editorials on December 30, 2011 10:35 AM