No More Empty Fortune Cookies!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Teach Your Children Well

Here's a typical home in Brentwood, TN

I show you this because recently, in a conversation with a police officer from Brentwood, a suburb of Nashville, that is as you can see, a little better off than most of the rest of us, I was informed that they receive 12-16 calls per day from parents asking for help with their children. Not runaways, it's for things as trivial as "My kid won't clean his room" to "My kid won't do her homework."
Seriously? My next question was is the assulting the parent when asked to perform these tasks, and that's why they called 911? Nope. They simply called the police to intervene in what appears to be a profound display of a pathetic lack of parenting skills concentrated in one of our most well-to-do neighborhoods.

Why, I ask myself, do these stay at home moms with more resources at their disposal than most moms, have such a hard time controlling their children and enforcing their rules? Why is it that no one seems to be afraid of a group of teens hanging out on a corner in Brentwood, thinking "Oh, they're probably on their way to the mall..." but a group the same size in say, South Nashville, or North Nashville....and you're locking your doors and rolling up your windows. The irony is the majority of those South and North Nashville moms won't hesitate to lay down the law with an unruly child. And go ahead and try to defy'll only do it once.

What does it say about our society that we have kids that are so unruly that parents call 911 to enforce chores?

What does it say about our society's parenting skills? When did the discipline of our own children become such a burdon or nusance that we'd rather push it off onto a stranger to handle? And what does that teach the children?

Does it not tell little Johnny that his mom could care less? And does that not add to little Johnny's angst?

Many studies have been conducted on the issue of unruly children and punitive and retributive responses (calling the police, punishment ) vs. restorative and reintegrative practices. The general consensus is that the punitive approach tends to fuel hostility and aggression while a reflective, rehabilitative process (get your kid some therapy!) will more likely provide the opportunity for the unruly child to learn new coping skills and offer them new options than the acting out that has previously led to mom and dad calling 911. And isn't that all we want for today's children, anyways? To be well adjusted and have all the necessary tools to adapt to an ever changing world. Because really, the alternatives are kind of frightening...

6 cookies cracked:

Karen said...

Very interesting!! As a family law lawyer I did a lot Juvenile Delinquency and Juvenile Crisis work. (Crisis is basically kids who won't listen and are out of control, but are not breaking the law per se). I also did my clerkship for a Juvenile judge.

The overwhelming majority of kids in the delinquency system, at least here in Jersey, come from urban, financially disadvantaged areas and often from single parent homes. However, the crisis cases are mix. I saw a lot of "perfect" wealthy, sucessful, loving families who could not control their kids. The courts do get involved and order therapy, cerfews, rehab, bootcamps, etc., but the police are rarely involved.

I think being a parent is such a gamble. You can do everything "right" and still end up with a "bad" kid. That is scary thought for me.

Gary Rith Pottery Blog said...

so FC, if you're not busy this am, wanna come over for coffee and cookies with my well-behaved little kitties and doggies?
The hell with the human race after all.....

Fortune Cookies said...

karen - I agree, it's a gamble. But I think that with attentive parenting, the chances of having your child turn out to be one of those "bad" kids is significantly lower...of course there's always the exceptions.

gary- I would LOVE to hop on over and sip coffee and nibble cookies with you and the four legged kids this am... shame we live so far away. I guess it's back to cleaning out the spare bedroom closet for me *sigh*

Gary Rith Pottery Blog said...

FC, considering that so much of my actual family is nutz, I am in the market for some cousins or somesuch. Wanna be my cousin? Like to the fourth or fifth degree?

Fortune Cookies said...

gary- sure, we can be family! ;) I'll call you my fourth cousin on my mom's husband's dad's sister's cousin's side... that otta be fun to place on the ole' tree

Reb said...

That house has such wonderful architecture, it is sad that the finish applied to the brick is so damned ugly! Maybe that gives a clue as to why the parents have to call the police to discipline the kids? The police call is funny, too bad the stupid woman probably did report him to the higher ups and he probably got disciplined for it.