Let me be the first to openly concede that my discussion of this topic consists of fundamental reasoning on a communal issue that is very complex, technical and somewhat profound. As a retired school teacher, registered nurse and a parent nothing in my education affords me a monopoly on this matter.
However, instinctively here is my diagnosis.
Parents are in serious need of help, as they are certainly not getting it from the myriads of parenting advisors writing today, or from any other known, recognized or trusted source . Furthermore, in the Black community there are very few (if any) parent who would take the time to buy, let alone read a book on proper child rearing/ raising or parenting techniques. (Do not hesitate to give me the numbers if there are).
Parenting on hold—The Kids in Control
Unrecognizably or un-admittedly, there has been a huge transfer of authority from parents to kids, but not without an accompanying price to pay. Along with the transfer came a change in the valuation of opinions and preferences of children.
In most families what children think, and what children like and what children want now matters much more than what parents think and like and want. The underlying rational is if parents make all the decisions for the child, when will the child ever learn to make his/ her own decision? Welcome to the new modern liberal parenting, where good parenting means letting the kids decide, and parents in the Black community has taken to this trend like a barnacle to a ship’s bottom.
We live in a culture where our own kids value the opinion of their same-age peers over that of the parent, which clearly reflects a decline in the importance, attachment and significance of parents in the lives of their children. Activities with same age peers have now displaced family activities. Children are being given far too many choices.
Not much to expect — Growing disrespect
In addition, in our community disrespect towards parents and elders have become pervasive and destructive, and it is not uncommon to see children telling their parents or elders to shut up or zip it. No longer does society want to accept the truth that parents and children are not equals and never will be.
The prime position and function of parents cannot continue to be undermined as is being done on television, in books and in movies. Most of the current sitcoms and television shows tear apart the family, depicting the parents as most always absent and the children cleverer than the maid, or better still scenes where the parents are outsmarted by their children.
There is not the slightest inkling of a doubt that 21st century modern day culture has adversely affected parenting, even extending to those in authority such as teachers. Generations ago both parents and teachers had much greater authority. In that era, in no uncertain terms Black parents and teachers taught right from wrong.
Do unto others as you would have them do unto you, and love your neighbor as yourself, were commands not mere suggestions. Parents stood by these commands with teachers giving helping hands. Now parents are no longer acting with such authority, and no longer command, but ask instead. How would you feel if someone did that to you”? The command has been replaced by a question.
Summoning the ability to restore parental responsibility
I am not assigning any blame or shame to any parent, but instead trying to show parents where they are off track. The modern day Black family instead of being a building block is fragmented, disengaged, detached, fragmented, loose pieces, not bound together although living under the same roof.
Consequently, it is of paramount importance that parents recognize that they are surrendering their own responsibility when they allow their children authority over their own lives. I am urging Black parents need to take back the responsibility, not shrink away from it. Yes, it does take a confident and deep thinking parent to stand up against the modern day parenting trend.
There are clear signs that the world is heading in the direction of Hell in a hand basket, but timeless wisdom stands supreme. In the biblical book of Proverbs, it is clearly stated, “train a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it.” This perspective stands supreme over any amount of modern day ideology or scientific evidence as to who should have authority over whom.
Signs of parental collapse
Food choices are among one of the first areas to fall when parents begin to relinquish control to their kids.
As already pointed out the command becomes a question covered with a bribe. No watching television until you finish your dessert, has now become, how about eating two more spoons of your supper and then you can watch television. Food time has also morphed into a polling session, where parents poll their children on what they are willing to eat, and renegotiate on the choices offered.
When parents seemingly consult children on issues that are symbolic of nurturance, then the children are automatically put in the lead. They do not feel taken care of and they start taking the alpha role. So the child that eats some more food before being allowed to watch television is likely to believe that she is doing the parent a favour and now he owes her a favour in return. These simple food decisions and food choices may be the early manifestations of the collapse of parenting, but in the black community many of the problems within families are a result of this type of role confusion. Parents are no longer the person in charge, the decider, the grown up.
Taking from the past to make the present last
Many of us parents are striving to bring up our kids differently from how we were brought up. Parents do not want to yell and do not want to spank, but there has been a massive parenting shift between generations.
I am not alluding to or advocating spanking. Yes, Black parents are trying their best to pull off the emotional coaching, but sadly have not received any prior form of training. More or less it is like teaching kids to speak French while you are still learning it at the textbook level. Some parents have made it a top priority that their children are seen and heard, and feel respected at a very early age. They want their children to be able to express their own emotions and for them to be emotionally available as parents. There is also a parental push towards a democratic household and cultivation of independence and freedom of thought where each family member has a say about what happens. The results are societally catastrophic, as the children are actually overpowering the parents. The theory is no longer viable.
Parents must return to the driver’s seat.
A functional family unit hinges on one social construct—hierarchy. If the parent does not possess and display enough natural power then it is difficult or hard pressed to make the demand or set the limit for children. The parent must be returned to the driver’s seat, and be looked upon as the ultimate person.
Parents must strive towards a happy medium even overcoming a psychological hurdle, that of how to respect the child but also to be the decider of the family. Children need to be given choices in some domain but not in others, and there may be some parental confusion. A good working rule is for parents to dispel all feeling that it is their job to be their children’s best friend. A parent’s job is to keep the children safe form all harm, ensure an good night’s rest and give them a firm grounding and instill confidence that would assist them in knowing their rightful place in society and in knowing who they are as human beings. I recommend that parenting style undergo a change which is certainly not out of range. Good parenting produces better well-grounded citizens. Without authoritative guidance children will adopt their own culture. We cannot allow this to happen in our community, the price is far too costly and may also be deadly.