Hell in a Handbasket

By Bob Wilson

A liberal syndicated columnist (E. J. Montini) recently published a piece entitled "How bad do things have to get?" detailing the plight of "Cindi." She is a divorced mother who laments that when her son turned 15, he rebelled from her (or anyone else's) authority. In his column, Montini related how Cindi's (now) 17-year-old got in to drugs, misdemeanor crimes, and became a general punk. Cindi was powerless, in spite of her attempts to get the father, or various government agencies to intervene and turn him around. Now that he is approaching adult status, he seems to be headed toward serious crime and clashes with decent society.

Though Montini is not clear as to the point of his column, he seems to say that government (society's nanny) has not done enough to head off this pending train wreck. Here is a kid who will doubtless turn into a criminal, and our institutions have failed to intervene to save him and us (from him.)

In fact, the problem is worse. Society (and our government nanny) created him. He is a product of several decades of influence and leadership (at all levels) that has spawned him, and countless others like him. People who were not equipped to raise children conceived these kids. Single women, divorced couples, busy two-income couples and disassociated fathers who reproduced, yet were never equipped to raise the child they produced, have dumped their responsibility on society.

Whose fault is it? This seems like a chicken/egg argument. Once the cycle begins, it is an endless loop, and only drastic, often-destructive measures will break the cycle.

While it is easy blame Cindi, it is also partially appropriate. She conceived this boy. From the day he took his first breath, Cindi (and her father) were responsible for everything he was exposed to. Cindi and the father chose each other. They subsequently chose to abandon their= responsibility to make a home that raised, sheltered, and nurtured their child to become a responsible adult. Once he emerges from the womb, the boy was at the mercy of the environment they created for him. Yet, they chose to split up and neglect his welfare for the convenience of their own agendas. If their decision to split up did not include compensating conditions, which protected the child's healthy nurturing, (and most divorces don't) then you can't blame government, society or the child. This only leaves the parents to blame.

Children are like putty. What kind of an adult they become is determined for the most part, by what they are exposed to from infancy. Once a child is neglected to the point that they can walk into the home and announce that they "don't have to listen" to the parent(s) anymore, (and pull it off) it is too late for intervention. You can't undue (in his case) 15 years of conditioning.

No government programs are going to replace the years of being cast to the winds of unmonitored TV viewing. No social agency makes up for not knowing who their friends are and not ensuring homework is done. No day care worker is a satisfactory substitute for not being home when he gets out of school, being there to feed him and kiss his cuts and scrapes (both physical and mental.) No teacher can be responsible for not punishing him immediately (and appropriately) when he messes up, and then hugging him and crying with him when the punishment is over. And worst of all, we don't teach young adults these truths before they go out and reproduce and start this cycle of neglect.

Instead, the current societal trend is to do the opposite. We tell them they both should work outside the home. The messages society currently broadcasts are that being a full time parent is not valuable or fulfilling. We say that one parent is just as good as two. We teach that there are no gender roles in parenting (or anything else.) We make it seem that having lots of "stuff" makes up for being a parent. Any time a child turns into a monster and wreaks havoc, such as in the recent school shootings, we look to the government for a quick fix. All these things are instrumental in creating kids who miss a family upbringing. They never know real affection; never learn responsibility; and never develop a conscience. So E.J. Montini asks "How bad do things have to get?"

Well, hold on for the ride. I have a good idea that, if things keep going the way they are, (and I don't see anything changing much) we "ain't seen noth'n yet."

Bob Wilson is a pilot and businessman living in Arizona who contributes regularly to The Ethical Spectacle.