All parents have a responsibility when it comes to raising their children. Beyond the obvious, such as providing them food, water and clothing along with a nurturing environment, they should be expected to teach their children the right and wrong behaviors that are expected or shunned by society.
This is where the old saying, “children learn what they live”, comes into play.
When a parent feels that what their own child takes part in is beyond their responsibility is the very reason we have thousands of juvenile detention centers filled with youth.
Responsible parenting involves far more then taking care of a child’s basic needs: it requires a mature, adult mind with a genuine desire to raise a child from birth into adulthood by means of teaching responsible, acceptable behavior. This of course takes time, common sense, and a genuine love for the safety and future of ones child. In today’s society, parents are consistently using other means, such as childcare centers, schools, video games or the Internet as the sole guiding factors in occupying children’s idle time.
I don’t believe there is any question as to whether a parent should be held responsible for their minor children’s behavior – it’s a no brainer. To argue that question would be as ridiculous as to ask, “Should parent’s be responsible for giving birth to their own child”? If the parents aren’t to be held responsible, who is? The same is true when asked who should be held responsible for the actions that children have either been taught at home or never taught to begin with. Should I be responsible for what someone else failed to do?
Parents that tell us they are not responsible for the negative actions of their children are indirectly telling us that they haven’t done a vital part of the parenting role: positive teaching.
It is true that we cannot be everywhere are children roam. What is possible, if we care enough, is to make sure that our children know right from wrong before they venture out. If we as parents create a hostile, un-nurturing, destructive environment that has been proven to have a direct impact on young lives, how on earth can we blame others? If we spend more time away from our children then we do with them, how well do we know them enough to understand what they have learned or what more needs to be taught? If we expect our school systems, daycare centers, friends, child peers, or neighbors to handle our responsibilities, what then is left for us to be responsible for?
We may be the best of parents and things can still go wrong. We may do all we can to give our children the tools to keep them out of trouble and on the right path in society. However, I doubt very highly that statistics taken by detention facilities will disclose that children housed in them had parents fully involved in their lives. The tragedy at Columbine is a perfect example of parental negligence.
We are responsible for what our children do, because they are our children. We brought them into this world to become part of society – society did not ask for them. To cast off blame onto others or pretend we aren’t responsible for neglecting to keep our children safe and society safe from their criminal tendencies is a self-centered, cowards way of saying, “I just couldn’t handle it”.
Unfortunately, our society won’t punish a parent for irresponsible teachings or lack thereof. Yet, they will expect others to foot the bill when parents fail to fill their parental responsibilities and cause society to pick up the cost of their inadequate or non-existent parental skills.
If bad parenting comes with no cost attached to it, then society should not be forced to pay for the lack of it either. Bad parents should be given the bill.
Then, at least, they can be held responsible for something. Especially when it wasn’t our choice to take on their 18 year commitment.