Friday, March 14, 2008

The Parental Lot

A woman--let's call her Myrtle--spent a lot of time crying over her daughter. The daughter was climbing out the window after the family went to bed. She disappeared for several days at a time. She had a boyfriend who was home from prison. She skipped school and when she went to school she got into fights until she was finally suspended. What was Myrtle to do? Her daughter was fourteen. The law allows few options.

Skip forward a few years. The daughter--let's call her Agatha-- is a parent now. Her daughter's been skipping school, playing on the computer and with the video games. Not doing her homework. Stealing change from the cookie jar. Today Agatha found out that her daughter charged $300 on her credit card for an online game. Perhaps even scarier are the men she's talking to online. What is Agatha to do? Her daughter is ten.

All over America, parents are facing the same scenarios. In today's world, where most mothers have to work, not to make ends meet but just to survive, more and more kids have the opportunity to misbehave. Drinking at middleschool age is at an alarming high. One in four teenage girls has an STD. What are parents to do? In today's economy, quitting work to supervise the children isn't an option. Especially in the enormous numbers of one parent families.

Are these bad, neglectful parents? No. A resounding NO! Often the most concerned, involved parents are the ones who are hit with a wilful, disobedient child. So why is this happening? I think there are so many social factors at work that its impossible to pinpoint one or two. Certainly, the exposure to music, television, and movies that spew moral rebelion is one part. I truly believe the breakdown in the family structure is another. And as unpopular as the idea might be, I believe the drop in church attendance across the country is yet another.

Celebrity worship doesn't help the parents' cause any. Societal mores that push our kids, particularly girls, to grow up faster with makeup and inappropriate clothes led one journalist to conclude that ten is the new fifteen. Small wonder that pre-teens are engaged in "inappropriate" behavior. Young girls down the block from Agatha's apartment were caught giving blowjobs to teenaged boys. What was that you said? Not on my block? Look again.

Nearly twenty years ago when Agatha was a young teen, she lived in small town America. And without really thinking about it, she could name at least four girls she knew who had already had abortions. Two of them were only eleven years old. What do you suppose the numbers would tell us today?

If I had to decide today, I'm not sure that I would want the responsibility of raising children in today's world. Yes, I know that there have always been rebellious children. There have always been children who insisted on doing the wrong thing. I know that misbehavior is not a new concept. But I think that in today's world there are a hell of a lot of things that can go wrong, wrong, wrong. Dangers have always existed, but we're more aware of them today.

The next time a parent needs someone to talk to, be there. Sometimes all we can do is listen and offer our moral support. Often when a parent tries their best, the people around them who should support them are telling them what a bad parent they are. Parents need all the support they can get, especially when they are faltering, wondering where they went wrong.

Support your local parent.


Every morning I start my day with the encouraging words from Kelly at and Amarinda at so I heartily recommend that you might too. Blessings on your day!


  1. "But I think that in today's world there are a hell of a lot of things that can go wrong, wrong, wrong."

    I don't have kids...I forgot to have them - but as a human being with friends who have ankle biters - people in the 1920s,30s, 40s, 50s etc would have said the same thing you just did about the times they lived in. I think the decade does not matter - parents muddle through as they have time and memorium and will continue to do so - and kids will continue to find ways to vex them

  2. My kids are grown up and my grandkids are too small for me to realize what's happening in the the teenage world. I agree with you Anny, a broken family and lack of religious involvemt make the situation worse. I always thought a good example should help, but what can a mother do when she's at work all day? Her kids are really raised by daycare and teachers, and vulnerable to any bad influence. Thank you for posting this. I'll get more involved in my little ones'lives and I'm sending your blog to my daughter and daughter-in-law.

  3. Not just down the block either. Many times bjs take place in the back of a school bus where preteen boys expect it of the girls and they consider it no more sexual than a kiss. Further, there is often a stigma that girls who haven't given one, haven't yet grown up. The same is not expected of the boys of course. Makes me think it was the boys that came up with this plan. They get the gratification, the girls get the stigma. And on a BUS!

  4. My teenagers think I'm a nosy old fogey, but I see what's going on at their school and elsewhere and I want to wrap them in a blanket and hide them in the closet. It's a very scary world out there.