The CHERISHED Life of Heather Leigh

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Punishing Parents...Preposterous!

There have been a lot of local stories lately about kids getting into trouble - bomb threats at the middle and high schools, a middle school kid with a bb gun at school, etc.

And it seems as if a youngster may have started the recent devastating California wildfires. So sad.

This has stirred up conversation (particularly on the part of the editor of our local weekly newspaper in his ohsoinsightful column, MY WAY) about how parents should be punished for the misdeeds of their children. And that bad kids are the product of bad parents who don't pay enough attention to their kids.

I couldn't disagree with this line of thinking more.

How does punishing a parent for their child's actions instill a sense of accountability in the child? This simply perpetuates the culture of kids not taking responsibility for, and not being held accountable for their own actions. Punishing a parent is hardly a consequence for the child.

Are there bad parents out there? Of course. Do all of them have bad kids? Absolutely not.
Are there good parents out there? Of course. Do all of them have good kids? Absolutely not.

Let me give you an example...

My parents raised three children in the same loving, caring, attentive, values-instilling manner.

In our youth, my older sister, Shawn, was a star athlete, was respectful and kind to everyone (except her little sister), followed all the rules, and was an honor roll student. She was a "good" kid.

My older brother, Jeremy, on the other hand, challenged authority, barely scraped by in school (although he's a very smart guy), violated more than one law on more than one occasion, and was "asked to leave" the private school he had attended in the 9th grade. He was a "bad" kid. Oh wait, sorry mom, let me rephrase that, he was a kid that did some bad things.

Anyway, one day, another parent asked my mother, "How do you raise a daughter as wonderful as Shawn?" To which my mom replied, "I really don't know, because if I took credit for Shawn's actions, then I would also have to take the blame for Jeremy's actions. And I've raised them both the same."

I'm so glad there were no crazy people around back then trying to throw my mom in jail for the misdeeds of my brother (or for my misdeeds, heaven forbid...but then again, I was perfect).


Mindy said...

I agree that there is a tendency to fling blame at parents these days when their children do bad things. (I don't believe there are bad children) That keeps anyone else in society from having to share in the responsibility for what happens.

Yesterday at conferences I confronted our Big Bald Middle School Principal and asked him why would a child want to make a bomb threat against his school. He answered with "wants attention," "cry for help," and "troubled child" but I could tell from the conversation that he meant AT HOME. I wanted to point out that they weren't threatening to blow up their houses. I was trying to get him to tell me what he was doing to change the atmosphere at his school so that it wouldn't be the kind of place where this would happen. He didn't get it.

I just wish that instead of blaming more people would consider what THEY could do to make their communities a better place for children to grow up GOOD.

Laura said...

Heather--IF I may be entirely snarky, and IF that editor of our local weekly is the same person I'm thinking of, we'll see if he changes his tune when his step-daughter ends up the way I think she will, which is in trouble. THEN we'll see whose opinions come home to roost. Considering he's not an actual parent himself, he's got a lot of damn nerve.