Wednesday, January 27, 2010

We can talk about it all day...but that doesn't help anyone.

Yesterday, Lula had a very emotional posting on Lulaville about a young girl where her daughter goes to school. The post was very heart wrenching and weighed heavily on my thoughts throughout the day. As a Christian, I know Jesus was very specific about both the poor and children...there's little, if any, room for denominational interpretation on what our attitude should be concerning both.

Too often as a spoiled society, we throw off the misfortunes of children with blame pointed at the deadbeat, degenerate parents. That's just not fair. A child can no more be held responsible for living in deplorable conditions than they can be charged with a crime if one or both of their parents are drug dealers. It's despicable and disgraceful to levy such an opinion of judgment.

To reinforce my charged up misgivings about the ineptitude of some parents, I see the following pamphlet, which is distributed by the State of Tennessee, displayed at my toddler's preschool as I'm leaving this morning...

You've got to be kidding me! Is this what things have come to...that certain parents need a state published pamphlet to tell them not to shake their baby? That you don't have the decency to make sure that your kids are properly clothed and receive adequate nutrition? That you need someone to tell you to keep your children clean and ensure they receive at least minimal medical attention?

Maybe I'm naive, even ignorant, to the point of refusing to believe such neglect is commonplace. Being a parent is one of the greatest blessings from God...period. Deviants and derelicts are a part of any society, and I understand that, but such behavior shouldn't be so common that state and federal agencies must mass produce literature to remind parents of their proper parental responsibilities. Yes...there should be agencies with authority to intervene in such cases and remove children from harmful situations...absolutely. My frustration stems from the fact that we've allowed things to get to this point.

I'm not talking about a third-world country or places far off from here either. Children are being neglected and abused right under our noses each and every day. There's a vast difference between a bad parent and a negligent, abusive parent too. Parenting poorly is often a result of the learning curve involved and comes with the process. Bad parents spoil their children and deny them lessons in responsibility. Bad parents let their children walk all over them and give in to ridiculous demands for the sake of keeping peace. Bad parents turn their head to inappropriate behaviors in order to avoid confrontation.

Of course, bad parenting can lead to neglectful parenting, but to deny your own child the necessities of life...not gaming systems, iPods, name-brand clothing and cell phones...I'm talking about the absolute necessities for life called food, shelter, clothing and cleanliness.

Wait...I know what's missing from that list. Love.

Our children need our love above all else. I find it hard to believe a loving parent could also be a neglectful parent. Dear Lord...I hope I'm right. We all need to take time for a neglected child right in our own communities and do some act of kindness and love for them. This isn't a political issue that breaks down to Democrats/Republicans or conservative/liberal either. This is a human issue that affects us all. Don't just read this and agree that it's a good point. Act!

Unfortunately, it probably won't be hard to find someone once you start looking.


Shauna said...

I just had a conversation with my 8 year old yesterday about how if we just focus on God's love, everything else will work itself out. Satan can use anything - but when we focus on God's love - he just cant.

This is a great reminder that a lack of love is right under our noses.

David said...

As foster parents, albeit a short time, we have gotten an eye full.

Here is my take on it. Neglected kids become neglectful parents. Child Services removes kids every day from homes around the US were they are poorly fed, emotionally, physically and sexually abused, and the emotion of love is not even in their dictionary of terms.

Many of the parents are young, immature, and frustrated; or drug addicted, have a history of mental illness or a history of crime.

99% of parents do not intentionally set out to harm children, they just find themselves in over thier heads and it is too late.

Wanna help - become a foster parent, volunteer as a father or mother in a any number of organizations or grab the kid closest to you at church that belongs to someone else and hang out with them - or teach them something cool - or look the other way. We all have choices.

What's it like?

Tracy said...

Over the years I've worked in both inpatient and outpatient facilities serving youths and their families/foster families as well as group homes. From those experiences I can really validate what David is saying here - typically no one sets out to abuse their children, typically these neglectful and/or abusive parents were neglected and abused themselves and haven't the first clue how to make life work as a parent. It's a heart breaking situation.

katdish said...

Some people simply are not cut out to be parents. It's hard work. Taking shortcuts usually turns out badly for everyone. There are no easy answers.

But if we make a conscious effort to simply LOVE our kids, by our actions not just our words, that's half the battle.

Dana said...

Tony, I must agree that we need to ACT. It is one thing to see children neglected and FEEL sorry for them; anyone with an ounce of compassion will FEEL their heart break. SHOWING compassion to neglected children; BEFRIENDING the friendless child; and TEACHING unskilled parents is quite another. We can go to our car, cry and pray all day for neglected children but until we are willing to get our hands dirty, it really doesn't mean a thing. Invite that child into your home, get to know them, get to know their parents. You may find that neglect is often disguised as poverty. When you go to your child's school to eat lunch (referring to Lulu's blog post), make a point to engage that child and make him/her feel special as well. It is so easy to give money to an organization and pray. Washing their hair, their clothes, their feet and feeding them is more in line with what Jesus would do. Just my thoughts :)

Michelle said...

I could say tons here. Working with children that were abused/neglected for three+ years before becoming a mommy myself was really eye opening...and then becoming a mommy was even MORE eye opening.

I don't understand child abuse. I do know this though, many parents who abuse/neglect their children DO love them. There are so many forms of child abuse and I have seen some horrific things...(shaken baby at its worst). I've seen the dirty kids, the hungry kids, the delinquents, and what not. I know one such family like Lula was referring to. There were 5 boys and a hopefully for the mom a girl on the way. They were FILTHY...there home wreaked of all sorts of urine odors....and they were happy. They received no assitance from the government and the dad was a truck driver. This was life to them due to generational poverty. But they were happy and their love was more visible to their children than some of the most wealthy families I worked with...and the wealthy abuse their kids, too!

Now that I have kids I look at things so different. I know how easy it is to be called in to DCS. I used to remove kids from homes and I'm here to tell you...if DCS showed up at my door, as innocent as I am I would tell them to get the hell out. They can rip families apart at the seams and tear a child's world apart. I've seen it happen.

I canNOT imagine hurting my child...especially to the point of broken bones and busted retinas and brain injuries. But I do know this, if it weren't for the grace of God and my life were a little more stressful...6 months ago this very thing could have been possible. Let's take my example (me in a different situation) and twist it just a little...I'm a single mom. There's not much food in the home. I've got a 19 month old and a newborn. One particular day, a late notice comes in on the utilities. The landlord is calling because the rent is late. Afternoon naps are being hindered by a screaming toddler and a screaming baby that won't eat for some unknown reason. The grace of God is lifted off of the mom for a moment and the baby could go soaring. The postpartum depression she is suffering from leaves her little room to control her emotions....My example is much different. I had a very supportive husband and a very stable financial situation...but there was one day... one day imparticular...if things were just a bit different something very bad could have happened. Sometimes there's a point that enough is enough...and then God's hand is either on you...or it's not. Well...God's hand was on me obviously.

I'm just saying don't be quick to judge until you know the circumstances and that given a different day it could be you. While most child abusers were abused, being abused doesn't make you a child abuser. Many children come out resilient successful adults b/c of their circumstances...just another way God's sovereignty uses ALL things for His good.

I've said A LOT...I know...but I could say so much more. And Tony...wanna do something? Volunteer with me at CASA for Kids and advocate for abused kids in the court systems! You and C could team up on cases! :)

photogr said...

I see this going on every day and it breaks my heart to see kids neglected.

We had two boys in our neighborhood in a disfunctional family being neglected and abused. Many times when they were younger, we took them to events with us and took them in when their parents kicked them out of the house in moments of anger or were drunk. At leat they knew there was a safe house for them if they needed it.

One grew up to to be responsible and a good person. We still hear from him occasionally. The other we don't know what happened as the family moved.

L said...

I read this post on my email when you posted. i have read it several times.

I just don't get it. I don't get why we need to tell a parent to not shake their kids, to feed them, to provide for them or to love them.

I get frustrated. I maybe speak to my children louder than I should sometimes but no one ever had to tell me not to shake my child.

You hit it when you said neglect shouldn't be so common that state and federal agencies have to create ads.

I think I probably haven't posted because I don't know what to do. I know there are children at my kids schools that just need a touch - a gentle touch from a loving adult. I also know there are some who take home weekend backpacks so they get to eat over the weekend. I don't live in a low income place. I live in a very middle income area - and still right here in my neighborhood there are children not eating over the weekend unless the school sends food home with them.

What do I do? I don't know. I just don't know.