Archive for the ‘Child Welfare’ Category

Those of you out there who have children and actually play an active role in your children’s lives will understand where this one is coming from.  Chances are pretty good that the people I am referring to will recognize some of my examples later in the post, but more than likely they will not recognize it as their parental inadequacy, they will instead see it as someone else.  I mean after all, when we are actually bad at something or not doing our part, but think we are, then it is so much easier to pinpoint the deficiencies in others rather than recognize them in yourself.  Hell, if we were all capable of knowing our deficiencies, fix them and move on, I would have absolutely nothing to write about.

So what I am trying to say here?  ALL week long I have either witnessed in person, read or heard about, and in one distinct case been media blitzed by children who are just out of control.  I have one FB friend who went on TWO well written rants about parents who refused to do anything about their unruly children, was relayed a horrifying story about some children who took hospitality waaaay beyond what anyone would ever extend, to the point of costly clean-up, and just about everyone either Youtubed or was media blitzed by the video of the elderly bus monitor being verbally abused by a few teens who need their asses whooped (throwback to my generation with that comment, you 40+ers know what I am getting at!).  So sandwiched in between “I am Mitt Romney or Barack Obama and I endorse the next 30 seconds of bullshit you are about to hear” commercials, we have all been aware of bad-children running amok.  Television, the media in particular is chock full of bullying, violence, sadistic pranks and just all around acts that are demonstrated by children who have parents that either take no active role in their kids lives or are on the other end of the spectrum completely and maintain the strictest of environments, possibly even veering towards or diving over the line of abuse.

We have all witnessed the children who seem to have no supervision what so ever as we troll the aisles of Walmart looking for the deal of the day.  Sometimes these kids are so troublesome we decide to go a different route than we were taking, sometimes we can only just stand amazed as the products fall off the shelf as young “Jimmy” or “Jane” attempt to climb the highest reaches of shelving, diaper hanging, little toes desperately gripping the sharp edge of the shelf, pacifier hanging in the mouth, all while the parent or parents are completely oblivious, texting away, having a FaceBook war, or my personal favorite yapping away like an escapee from the nut-hatch apparently to no one but themselves until you realize they have one of those dumbass Bluetooth headsets buried under their doorag or poorly glued in hair extensions. (See http://www.peopleofwalmart.com if you think i exaggerate too much).

So, what is it we are teaching our children when we have a situation like this (put yourself in the place of one of the peopleofwalmart right now).  We are teaching our kids that it is okay to be an unruly and undisciplined little turd, we are teaching our children that it is okay to destroy things because there is someone whose job it is to fix it, we are teaching our children that mommy or daddy feel it is okay to ignore you because we have something completely insignificant distracting us, we are teaching our children how to be completely bad parents when they decide it is their turn to carry on the family name.  Forget the specifics of the whole nature/nurture argument for a minute and just apply some common-sense to this, our children are sponges and while they may not be able to regurgitate information verbatim each and every time you throw it at them, they are imprinting themselves with the examples you set for them.  Those times they went and created chaos and you knew about it but did nothing to discipline them for it besides yanking their arm out of the socket as you lifted them up high enough to swat their ass so that you did not have to bend your lazy ass down to get on their level and apply some good sound parental knowledge!  Okay, breath taken, now go on.

I am by no means a perfect parent.  Concentrating solely on the children we have that live with us, my wife and I make mistakes all the time (not that we let the kids know anyhow :)).  However, each and every time we need to make adjustments in our parental style or simply just adjust our children, we take the time to explain and as often as is practical, we demonstrate.  It takes repetition to create new and erase old muscle memory and bad habits.  If our children are running wild and free, we are doing something to both stop the bad part of what they are doing and explaining why it is bad.  No one is a perfect parent, the best we can hope for is that when it comes time our children recognize the lesson we were trying to teach and have that forehead slapping moment that we now do about lessons our parents were trying to get through our thick skulls.

One of the few things in life that get to me, I mean really hit a raw nerve, is children suffering.  It is simply not something that is their fault.  It is the parents responsibility to provide for their family.  There are many households that have little or no money yet they are good, happy families with good children.  It is not always about what you have, but what you pass on.  Some of the worst examples of poor parenting and demon-children come from full-on nuclear families where the parents earn a decent living and the children have what or more than they need.  Somewhere along the line, however, things get messed up, the parents do not parent, the children turn into hellions, and elderly women who choose to keep working and monitor the bus end up getting verbally abused with the video posted on You Tube to the delight of the troublesome little shits that did it.  Everyone related to this one all say the same thing, “good kids, what happened, yada yada, yada”.  What happened is that these kids are busy learning a lesson in retrospect that they should have learned as their basic upbringing.

Bottom line for me is that parents simply need to parent their children, regardless of their age, regardless of the special needs they may have and regardless of the parents age.  We all know how well the families are turning out from ‘ 16 and Pregnant’ (thanks MTV).  There is no excuse for bad behavior from your children, there is simply bad parenting.  We all have off days and kids are wily enough to get things through the cracks, but it is our responsibility to own up to the crap our kids do when we are not watching, makes sure reparations are made for it, make sure our children can understand the significance of what they did, and adjust our parenting accordingly to prevent it from happening again.  No one wants to go to the park just to have the other parents start to take their kids home because your little hellion is drawing the line in the sandbox.  Stewie Griffin is funny as hell on TV, but scary in person.

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It seems that most of my 42 years on this earth have been influenced by war.  This is a realization I came to recently.  While I was in the womb, making nine months of my mother’s life miserable, my father was a soldier serving in Viet Nam.  Fortunately for me he was finally able to see me just a couple days before my first birthday.  If family legend holds true, I was able, thanks to my mother’s efforts, to recognize my father when I was finally able to meet him.  Unlike thousands of children from the 60s and 70s I was able to have a long term relationship with my father, who is still around today.

My children have never known anything but my Army career.  My son was 4.5 years old when 9/11 happened and my daughter was born in 2005.  My oldest daughter, the reason I chose the military as a path, unfortunately has not been able to develop a relationship with me.  I still hold out hope for that one, it is at least a very cordial relationship.  What I am trying to get to in this regard is that my children, like me, have had their lives to date influenced in some way, shape, or form by war.  In just seven years of my daughters life, I have been deployed for almost half of it.

I am very fortunate that in over 50 months of time away between Iraq and Afghanistan, that I have made it home in tact each and every time.  I hope that despite all the future parental difficulties that come with raising children (military families are not immune to the same things that our civilian counterparts are) that my wife and I will raise a couple of good children.  My additional hope is that they do not find a need to carry on the family tradition of military service and instead find ways to give back to the community and the country that do not require the same sacrifices I have made, or even worse allow their families to feel the extreme loss of other that I have known.  You see as a father, I wish to take the extremely selfish tack of not wanting to have my children to have to suffer, especially in the real-world violence of the military.  Should they decide to take that route however, I will stand behind them and support them wholeheartedly in their efforts.

I have known several fathers who have either left their lives on the battlefield or have had their lives indelibly altered as a result of being on the battlefield.  These men have left behind families that they cared for deeply.  Most of the men I have known had more than one child.  These children of varying ages will complete their lives without the influence of their father.  Many of these children’s families will maintain ties to the military.  It is incredible how many families maintain their connections to the military after suffering a loss like that.  Many mothers even end up re-marrying into the military.  Those who marry wisely will have a man who can step up and eventually have those children be seen as “daddy” as well.  Not as a replacement, you can never replace a parent that has so influenced you, but as a man who can step forward and give those children the things they need in life, including have the strength and integrity to continue forward with them when it eventually gets to the breaking point.  Tragically, there will be many little boys and girls who never got to meet their father.  They will go through life without ever knowing if the other person in their mother’s life would have turned out to be a father or a daddy.

Quite possibly that most difficult circumstance for a child to grow up with is with a father who has been wounded in action.  This is especially true when it is a severe injury, one that they will have a daily reminder of.  The type of injury in which they must play a part in the recovery.  This does not always have to be something they can see physically.  Many children must witness the emotional and psychological turmoil that someone who has reached their limit must go through.  This can be the most difficult of all circumstances for young children, even older ones.  The right help and love from the family, especially the children can be what is needed to help a man get back to being the father, the daddy, that every child needs in their life.

Any man, with the physical capacity to do so, can father children.  The point is a scientific fact.  If you watch Maury Povich and Jerry Springer, some of the people on that show seem to think it is their divine provenance to spread their seed and multiply.  This regardless of the fact that they cannot take care of themselves, never mind as was in the news recently about a Knoxville man, the 131 children he has fathered over the course of some 16 years.  My wife and I have a hard enough time taking care of the two children we have living at home and still maintain what we hope are applicable life lessons, opportunities and manage to get them to appointments on time.  I cannot imagine how someone who has little motivation for improving their own lives, minimal salary or on government assistance, and saddled with tons of child support can do it.  Unfortunately, the truth is all to often, these “donors” have no intention beyond the superficial of being a daddy.

Donors are those men out there who do their part to make children, but do  nothing to make their children’s lives better than theirs were.  They more often than not have a great influence on their child’s lives, even if they are a horrible parent.  These poor kids grow up with the desire and the fantasy of what they see this “father” as, despite the number of disappointments they are handed on a regular basis.  The kids are not aware of what it takes to raise them, just that they want the man who helped give them life to do it.  The small percentage of them that will get ahead in life relatively unscathed, will be thanks to the love and mentoring of people in their lives.  People who can hopefully show them the right paths to walk down or how to recover when you take a wrong turn.

I hope that one day my oldest daughter and I will be able to have more of a relationship than we currently do.  Circumstances being what they have been for the last 19.5 years, I have not had the role in her life that I would have like to had.  There were many years of her life I did not know where she lived, that was a failing between her mother and I.  Prior to her turning 18 I was finally able to meet her face to face and tell her a few things.  After many years, there was no animosity on my part towards her mother, and I could see that despite my absence in her life, she was able to grow up a relatively normal child along with her brothers and sister.  Despite all the normal issues that growing up in any family bring, she was raised pretty good in my opinion.  While we do not have the open relationship between my daughter and he siblings from my end that I would like, there is a possibility that one day there will be.  I may have been a “donor” when it comes to my daughter, but it was due to circumstance, not desire or ability.  I think she recognizes that and she has had a pretty good life without me.

I bring this up because I realize things are not always black and white.  It is not always a case of daddy or donor, sometimes there are extenuating circumstances, and otherwise good men are not always given the opportunity to realize their daddy potential.  It does not mean their children will not have good lives and learn to be good people, it just means they may not be a part of it.  It happens.  I have also witnessed far too many examples of “men” who should not have been able to breed.  They may have some fine, beautiful children, but it has absolutely nothing to do with them outside of the few minutes of fun it gave the parents.  Too many men out there are failing at fatherhood.  They do not have the excuse of military commitments or the loss of a child of a police officer or fire fighter.  They simply do not have the capacity to be responsible parents and live up to the commitments that the non-use of prophylactics has caused them.  The juvenile system is full of children whose parents were incapable of taking care of them, despite the fact they were biologically capable of creating a life.

A child is a wonderful thing.  They are born innocent and without the prejudices and influences we have in our lives.  Starting in the second they are born, these little beings begin to be shaped by what is around them.  Just a little later in life, they are also affected by what is not around them.  Nature versus nurture, the battle will always rage on as to which method is the best.  Personally, I do not think it can be broken down into two simple terms or systems.  As humans we are the sum of what is around us.  We are sponges that absorb everything, sometimes it does not come out until years later and you may wonder where the influence comes from, but eventually everything we see, hear or do from birth will have an affect on your life one day.  A daddy can help affect the way a child turns out, a good one can anyway.  When it comes to a donor, they also can affect how a child turns out, in which way is up to the rest of the influences in that child’s life.  We need more men to step up and be a Daddy in a child’s life.  Even if there is not a biological tie to that child.  If you have something to offer, then they deserve the benefit of it, they are innocent in their circumstances.

For all the other Daddies out there, Happy Fathers Day.  For those children who have lost the daddy in their life, I hope there is or will be someone who can be that influence in your life; someone you may one day look back on as be able to call daddy.

Take a look at this blog from an Evangelical Christian.  He comes down AGAINST Amendment 1.  What I really like about his blog is it is not written like a scholar or legal expert, but as an American.  He writes as someone who has read the history of our country and understands the reasons the Founding Fathers decided on the course they took with regards to the Constitution and Human Rights.  The author understands that the religious do not have a monopoly on morality, and even that just because you may not be of the same faith, or of no faith at all, does not make you an immoral person.

Often times I hear the argument for immorality in regards to homosexual lifestyle and practices, religious views or lack of them and in doing so, the high and mighty display  a complete lack of those same morals, basic customs and courtesies, the and extension of human rights to those they feel are against their way of life.  In this regard immorality is an excuse used to mask the discomfort of change and the pain felt when you finally see your way of life is not necessarily the predominant way or that others, possibly in the majority may see things differently than you.

NC’s Amendment One: Are Social Conservatives Gambling With the Law of Unintended Consequences? « Mired in Liberty.

A little bit on the potential effects of Amendment 1 passing on children.  These are the possible effects for all children that are not from a “traditional” male-female family unit.  There is no way to separate children from same-sex unions and those born out of wedlock when it comes to parental rights and rights of the non-biological partner.  A side-effect also could involve a dissolution of a “step” parent family in which either the male or female of the family is the non-biological parent, but has had a substantial impact in that child’s life, possibly was even the majority provider to include medical and dental benefits.

Read on to the parties involved and see if you can tell to what level the FOR party is willing to go in order to embed discrimination into the state constitution.

Does Amendment One love all the little children of the world?.

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I took advantage of early voting today to drop my vote against NC Amendment 1. As an unaffiliated voter I was only eligible to vote for judges and the amendment. There has been a steady stream of voters since I arrived at the polling place, way more than I imagined.