I am a “baby boomer,” born in 1947. I am a mother, grandmother, and a daughter, with all of the “sandwich generation” duties and responsibilities inherent in those titles. I am a college graduate and I work in child welfare.
I believe that we will never really be able to adequately address the societal ills we read about in the papers and hear about on the news shows until we re-assess the value of our children. As my agency’s teacher of parenting skills classes, I deal with parents on a daily basis who have no more idea of what it mean to have and raise a child than I do of what it means to tap dance on the moon! The most important job we will ever have is to be a parent, and it is the one job we take on with no training and few skills. We see children in the child welfare system who are injured physically and crippled emotionally, often by well enough meaning parents who just don’t know what they are doing, or just do what their parents did to them. They often don’t know anything about basic nutrition, child development, or nurturing parental behavior. They “whoop” their children because they were “whooped” when they were kids.
As long as children are ignored or beaten, sent to school without breakfast or not sent to school at all, not taught basic social skills, and not given unconditional love, what hope do we have of solving any of our social problems? Being a parent isn’t just about having a cute little baby. It’s about teaching that baby, and the child and youth and adolescent that baby will become, what it means to be a person, a member of society. It’s about loving that child through illnesses, successes, failures, bad tempers, and everything else that comes along. It’s about providing security for that child to grow and flourish and become the adult that he or she is meant to be.
We make a lot of noise about the youth of today being the hope for tomorrow, but I don’t think we really understand what that means. I believe we’d better find out – – – and fast! Because much of the youth of today doesn’t have much hope for tomorrow, and while that means job security for people like me, who deal with the failures, generation after generation, nothing good is going to come out of it for those kids. I don’t claim to have the answers. But I sincerely believe that we need to look into the questions!