Welcome to the World (Bang!) of Kid-free Parenting
By Amy Whitlaw
March 14, 2000
When I first heard about the Flint, Michigan school shooting, I wondered how any parent could tuck their child into bed at night and fail to notice plots of murder dancing through their six-year-old's head. Then it all made sense to me. According to reports, the six-year-old shooter had no bed. No Mom or Dad around to hear him say his prayers either.
Not surprising, but terribly sad. More saddening is Kayla Rolland's bed. It is forever empty.
President Clinton, always able to turn one person's tragedy into political treasure, asked, "Why could the child fire the gun?"
But wouldn't anyone who honestly cared about children instead ask why would the child fire the gun?
When a six-year-old chooses a .32 caliber semiautomatic handgun to express his anger, isn't it time to wonder if perhaps our species has gone awry? Could it be that children who shoot their peers are trying to send a message which parents refuse to hear? Something like "Hi, I'm here!"
The President went on to say "If we have the technology today to put in these child safety locks, why don't we do it?''
Funny he should ask. If he'd read his wife's book, It Takes A Village, he would know that according to Hillary Clinton, "a safety lock is no substitute for the most essential form of child protection...the attentiveness of parents and other adults, and the village at large"
But what if Dad is in jail, Mom is otherwise occupied and the village, like the six-year-old shooter's, is too busy doing crack to worry about protecting small children?
Wait, we've been here before. We go back to blaming the guns.
How easy it is to fault the inanimate. Guns won't be offended by harsh judgments. And they won't mind taking the fall in a last ditch attempt at legacy making. Best of all, guns can't vote.
I don't have a problem with child safety anything...including gunlocks. But just for once, I wish someone would tell us that it's better people, not better gun laws, that America desperately needs. Lousy parents, in my opinion, are the biggest threat to children. And we now have a generation of lousy parents raising killer kids.
Yet until public officials, most importantly the President, demand that Americans take responsibility for their families, Americans will sit back and wait for safety locks to stop our kids from shooting each other.
Guns play a role in school violence, not as the cause, but a symptom of a bigger illness called kid-free parenting. People seem to like the process of making children, but often lack the resources or commitment to raise them properly. So they pay outsiders to make sure the diapers get changed, the toes get tickled, and the brain connections, which help little ones develop trust, love, compassion and empathy, are made. By the time they encounter their children at the end of a long workday, kid-free parents, exhausted and guilt ridden, substitute overindulgence for discipline, adding more confusion to the chaos of modern day childhood.
Something is terribly wrong with the world when our children are so prone to violence, so disconnected from humanity and so destructive to others. But kid-free parents don't always have time to worry about this. They're often too rushed to remember that children are tough little people who don't always wear their wounds on their sleeves. The less time spent with kids, the harder it is to know what they're thinking. And the easier it is for kid-free parents to fool themselves into thinking that everything is okay.
What upsets me most is the sanctioning of kid-free parenting by some of our most influential leaders. Al Gore's preaches the promise of universal preschool (code word: daycare). Hillary Clinton's longs for the "sparkling" daycare centers of France. And instead of being angry or offended, kid-free parents rejoice, embracing the opportunity to lose the very sacred privilege raising a child.
These individuals who profess to care so deeply for America's youth never pledge to fight for lower taxes so parents can spend more time with their kids and less time working. And they never even hint that it might be a good idea if parents valued their job at home as much as they value their careers. Instead, they vow to provide more funding for outsourcing offspring, most likely because they believe that's what voters (especially kid-free parents who vote) want to hear.
Each day I see children growing up confused and unsure with only Pokemon to guide them. I notice parents rejecting the magical gift of watching their children grow, misguided by the notion that it's better to nurture and strengthen with their wallets instead of their hearts. And our communities are no longer just breaking down. They're broken.
Equally unsettling, our hard earned money is taken by our government in the form of tax dollars to support unpredictably dangerous schools. We are forced to pay whether or not we choose to opt out on all they offer, including the opportunity to be shot by a classmate, more than likely a product of kid-free parenting. If I were Kayla Rolland's parents, I'd be asking Uncle Sam for a refund.
Perhaps the beginning of the end starts when society no longer values it's babies and pushes it's wingless young from the nest, fully aware that they're not prepared for solo flight. Countless parenting books stress that it's okay, even good, to institutionalize children. Such books are trusted more than the nagging guilt, the voice of conscience, the voice of God begging parents to listen, to stop, to hold onto to our little ones and raise them well. Then, when they crash to the ground, their tiny bodies crumpled, society rages over the how instead of the why.
And we end up with villages where a lonely, neglected six-year-old boy who should have been stealing cookies from the cupboard, instead steals a gun. At least he will finally get some much-needed attention, not to mention a bed to sleep in at night. If only his village had valued their children as much as they valued drugs and guns, Kayla Rolland would be snug in her bed tonight, too.
Amy's web site: It Takes a Parent
This article copyright © 2000 by Amy Whitlaw and may not be reproduced in any form without the express written consent of its author. All rights reserved.