I have always stood by the idea that it takes a village to raise a child, but the responsibility does not solely belong to the village. Two people entered into an act without appropriate protection that resulted in the child, and they really do need to accept the responsibility for that child’s creation and evolution.
I am increasingly becoming frustrated with the serious mental health and behavioral issues that face our youth. In most cases, parents have absolved themselves of responsibility for their child, given their care to others, like grandparents, and have left their children feeling abandoned, unwanted and unloved. Others sexually abuse their own children, their step children, their nieces and nephews, the children of their friends. Some don’t pay attention to their kids, don’t read with them, don’t talk to them, don’t acknowledge them, don’t celebrate their successes or commiserate with them on their losses.
Of course our kids are suicidal, self harming, suffering anxiety. How can they not be?
Their adults aren’t present. They aren’t there.
Kids don’t know that their suffering is temporary. They haven’t lived long enough, seen enough, experienced enough, to know that there is better out there. They don’t believe that they will have control over their own lives and that their dreams can become reality.
And that isn’t their fault.
I talk to so many kids who have had enough of life; they tell me that they are tired of fighting, tired of being strong, tired of pretending.
Society, what the fuck are we doing to our kids?
They control our dotage. Why are we failing to protect them? Why are we failing to love them? Why are we failing to parent them?
Year 10 and I are reading To Kill A Mockingbird. We talked the other day about how much times have changed since I was a child. Scout is warned by Uncle Jack that she needs to stop cursing whilst he is there. Calpurnia, Aunt Alexandra, Miss Stephanie and Miss Maudie all discipline Jem, Scout and Dill. The village raising the children. Successfully.
It reminded me of growing up in Manooka Crescent. It didn’t matter who’s home we were in, if we were naughty we all copped the consequence, be it a smack, a scolding, or a grounding. My parents didn’t get upset with the other parents. And we knew the boundaries. If we tormented Aunty Maureen by saying bum or bloody repeatedly, we knew we would cop it. And we didn’t dob to our parents because they would take care of round two of discipline.
And I still, to this day, thirty five, thirty six years later admire, love and respect all of those adults.
Respect was paramount. Young people respected their elders. And we were raised. Like really raised. And I don’t see much of that anymore. People work long hours to provide a life outside of their means and their children suffer. It makes no sense.
And if you think it does, come visit my classroom and hear the stories from the kids. It doesn’t make sense to them either.
And they don’t want to live anymore.