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 her...you'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...