Last week I mentioned the single mom who cried "foul". Today it's time to talk about when to demand a timeout. While parental overreach is obnoxious, parental under-involvement is a measuring stick for societal failure.
I'm sure some of you saw that New York City schools will be offering the Plan B emergency contraception to girls as young as 14 years old.* I guess the free condoms weren't proving helpful enough (what with the engineering degrees required to operate them). Did I mention no parental consent is required? Parents were notified of the change and there is an opt-out program. So. That's reassuring...
The big question mark for me is this: When did kids start trusting the "experts" (in this case, the government) more than their own parents? Have we (the parents) become so distant and untrustworthy that the school nurse (who typically knows our children for a mere four years maximum) is preferable for discussing important topics such as sex? We have become far too lackadaisical in our parenting. It's light years easier to entertain my children rather than patiently (and oftentimes painstakingly) discipline and instruct them, all the while doing my best to model righteous living.
There is a general sense of familial degeneration in our society. I don't think that's news to anyone. A greater number of students are latch key kids, in foster care, coming from broken families and are spending more time with friends on social networks than those with whom they share a home. Parents have given up on the idyllic family dinners from Leave It To Beaver.
This degeneration has paved the way for other authorities to become the parent. It's doing society no favors in the long run. We should get riled up at the thought of "experts" mentoring our children. We should be indignant when teachers, pediatricians and therapists impose their beliefs upon our children. Sports coaches need to stick to their game plans and leave the parenting to us. Don't get me wrong. There will always be a few kids who need someone besides their parents to step up and parent them. I know a family who has for all intent and purposes adopted a former student. Sometimes it is necessary, but it should be the exception, not the norm. I also recognize that parenting is exhausting and am by no means suggesting we not seek help and encouragement (as well as offer help and encouragement). However, I am suggesting we reclaim family dinners, put down the phones and turn off the telly.* It's past time we tune into our children and parent them in a way that leaves no room for doubt in their minds as to who loves them most and who is the most qualified expert to parent them. I may not have a fancy degree, but I should darn well know my kids better than the school nurse knows them.
If I've learned anything from this ugly coin it is this: I must be extremely proactive in this endeavor called "parenting", because there is a laundry list of experts lined up for my job.
*If you so choose: http://news.yahoo.com/morning-pills-available-13-nyc-schools-101419990.html
**No, I'm not British, but "telly" is just so fun to say. Also, I'm serious about that whole dinner bit. Takeout is fine! It's the time together that matters, not the food eaten.