Monday, August 06, 2007

Springfield's Bad Parents Make It Tougher

Many Parents Use Children as Rights of Passage Props

Several of my daughter's best friend's parents are essentially overgrown children.

When I was my daughter's age I was always envious of those kids whose parents were "cool".

The parents that were very liberal in their application of rules - if they even had rules.

These parents didn't seem to get upset with their kids, and their kid's friends coming in reeking of pot, and smelling of booze. These parents seemed either to be just arriving back from a party, or leaving for one themselves.

Today I know these parents just didn't care as much about their kids as they should have.

Many of them had money. In fact some of the worst parents were those who lived in the finest homes in Springfield - or might I say - Leland Grove.

Some of the kids I felt sorry for, while partying with them of course, had parents whose careers kept them from being home, or engaged in their family life.

Even though I was a teenager, and was partying hardier just like these kids, I knew that at least my parents were around for me, and I knew they'd be upset with my experimentations.

My parents were conservative in the sense that they attended church every Sunday, professed a belief in God, and believed that there was a real difference between right behavior, and wrong behavior. That doesn't mean they were perfect - far be it from the truth - but they did care.

Peter Pans - Many Parents Never Grew Up

Things haven't changed much over the years. In fact they're probably far worse. Many of the kids who were sucking in the smoke, and boozing it up back in high school when I was kid never outgrew this lifestyle. While it eventually dawned upon me that there were better ways to spend my time, and money - these people really never reached that same conclusion.

And now they're parents.

When children are very young just keeping the smell of pot out of their kids rooms at night was probably enough for them to think they were being good parents. But as their children grew older these folk found it impossible to give a convincing speech, and convincing "life lesson" about the futility of depending upon drugs for enlightenment, and true happiness.

I sometimes ask my daughter, "Where's so-and-so's parents?", and sadly my daughter will respond, "They're hitting the bars". "You mean no one's there?", I ask, and she'll respond, "No". And I believe her, because I've been to their homes, and I've seen, and talked with these kids.

I've seen over the years the way these same parents end up dumping their kids into the status of Emancipated Minor. The parents simply can't deal with the conflict involved in putting their foot down, and saying there's a limit to acceptable behavior - to themselves, or their kids. So they try instead to be their kids "friends", and bale out as soon as the job gets tough.

The same kids that found it hard to find their parents away from the bars are now living as young adults holding never ending parties of their own. These same kids probably won't be making it to college, and will end up living on the east side, north side south side - the poor side - just like their parents - working in minimum wage jobs.

My daughter suspects that there must be something wrong with my wife, and I because we don't get slammed every night at some bar. And she believes we are too strict because we are committed to raising a drug free kid.

So and So's Parents Let So and So do what she wants!

That's because So and So's parents are horrible parents - and there are so many horrible parents out there.

I'm tempted to believe that it's because our kid goes to South East High. That East Side poor folk are self destructive. Maybe that's true to some extent, but then I think back to all those rich kids whose parents seemingly suffered from some never ending Peter Pan syndrome in which they too seemed too damned busy partying themselves to care about their children.

I doubt it has much to do with money. I suspect it has more to do with values.

From the time I began raising my daughter I always had a plan for her. I wanted her to have more than I have myself. I wanted her to go farther than I have gone. I knew that studies on drug use show that parents who provide their children with ambiguous messages about drug use fail to steer their children away from drugs.

I have tried to emphatically state that drug use is not acceptable.

And now I hope that my daughter has the sense to say no when surrounded by overgrown children raised by peter-pan-parents who should never have been parents - the one's who are more interested in hitting the bars - and even doing drugs themselves - rather than steering their kids in the right direction.

Parents that try to be their kids best friends - suck. They make it hard on parents who actually care about their kids.

In my hope of hope's I dream that in some of the white flight palaces in Springfield, Illinois such as Lutheran High, Sacred Heart Griffin, Pleasant Plains High, and Cavalry Academy are drug free schools in which drug free kids come home at the end of the day to concerned parents, but I know better. I've talked with too many parents, and too many kids associated with those schools to know that drug use, under age drinking, and premarital sex are rampant high school activity in those schools too.

Which brings us back to values. From the very first days in which my daughter attended South East High School she was being offered drugs. She shared with me how kids would sit around in the commons area and smoke pot right there on campus. I was happy that my daughter chose to say no. But the frightening thing was that she warned that all the older kids were doing it.

I recall back in High School - Griffin High to be exact - that pot was being smoked right out front of the school, and in the parking lot. It was a game of cat and mouse. I also recall all the kids getting off of the city buses blocks before they had to so that they could smoke pot right before they walked into Springfield High School. And yes it was rampant back then.

Pot itself may not be the killer weed it was portrayed to be in the 1930's, but it does dull the mind, and makes one mentally lazy. It's effect upon academics are similar to what girls go through in the seventh grade when suddenly they decide in mass that they can no longer raise their hands in math and science class. It's similar to what black male youth experience when they realize they can't seem to appear too academic or else lose their status as home boys. Pot is just another way of being dumb - of pushing that adult awareness farther into the future - possibly after it's too late.

Dulling the pain of the growing realization that life isn't filled with fairies, and unicorns, but instead is filled with non-stop work, and sometimes nasty bosses is something we'd all seek, but it's parents who have the responsibility to teach their children early on that running away from problems only makes them worse.

This is a difficult lesson to teach when a parent hasn't a clue as to how to confront their own problems. In in other times, and places there were answers, and there were guides to those answers. Religion helped human beings grapple with finding their way toward how to think, and deal with their problems - with life's challenges.

Today, in the modern world - a world in which God is dead - or so we are told - a world in which few trust government to act in their best interest - we act as men thrown into a darkened dungeon struggling to find our way. Being a good parent is harder than it ever has been for those who actually care. But despite this those who love - and know what real love is - continue to sacrifice clenching onto their hope that they can point their children onto the right path in a society in a state of moral decay.


Southeast alumni, Class of 1993 said...

I think your daughter is exaggerating a bit when it comes to drugs at Southeast.

In the four years I was there, I never, ever once was offered drugs. Not one time. Nor did I witness kids getting high in the center courtyard.

I did see kids smoke weed across the street at the tennis court, and I partook many a time in the student parking lot and going to and from school during lunch.

But never was anyone so stupid as to try smoking weed in the commons area as your daughter claims.

I call shenanigans.

fafnir242 said...

I actually just graduated from Southeast last year, and I hated it. You're absolutely right. The vast majority of the kids at Southeast are all on ego trips, don't have a care in the world, dress like thugs, and every other word that comes out of their mouth is profanity. I hated that school. It could also be because I was an Ursuline transplant, but that's beside the point. That school nearly drove me to suicide. It was horrible. I'm glad somebody else besides me recognizes a problem. I do have to agree with "Southeast alumni, Class of 1993". No one ever smoked pot in the commons. That would be absolutely impossible. One of the security guards or teachers would smell it. I've never seen, smelled, or smoked pot, or any other drug, for that matter, but I'm pretty sure it's not odorless. Other than that, this post is spot on.

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