Sunday, January 25, 2009

Gangsta Kids

This past week there was another gang shooting. This time near Kearns High School. A 16-year-old boy died. I don't know him but it makes me angry. Well, no actually angry is too gentle of a word. I'm somewhere beyond furious mixed with good portions of sad and sickened.

History shows that policing these deviants is not successful. With ever greater resources aimed at curbing the problem, it has just continually got worse. More kids are involved in ever more violent crimes. We don't need more police to manage the problem. We need to get to the root of it and solve it before it becomes a problem. And I think that responsibility lies with the family. Parents need to be step up and be parents. Your job is not to be your kids' friend; your job is to be their parent. And sometimes that's going to mean doing unpleasant, unappreciated, and down-right hard things. Tough! You had the kid - you made the choice to become a parent - and with that comes the responsibility to yourself, your child, your God and the rest of society to do whatever it takes to raise that kid to a successful adut.

Too many young people today haven't grasped the idea that choices have consequences. Too many parents, under the guise of giving their child what they didn't have, shield that child from every negative consequence. Too many parents use the excuse that 'Johnny is really a good kid, he's just misunderstood.' Too many parents refuse to believe that their little angel could ever conceive the idea of doing something bad. If you are one of these parents, you have done your child no favors. In my estimation you have utterly failed at the most important job you will ever have... that of being a parent.

Some may look at this and wonder just who I think I am. I don't have kids. I will freely admit I am not the voice of experience. I am however, exposed to a large number of kids. Some of them are eager to please and some like the thrill of seeing just what they can get away with. Some live in traditional families, some don't. Some like chocolate frosting on their cake and some think it's too sweet and would rather have whipped cream. The point being, the kids in my life - my frame of reference - come from many backgrounds and grow up with many different outcomes. Some will be productive and successful adults, some will sponges sucking away at social programs, some may die as tragically as the young man in Kearns without ever reaching adulthood.

However, for myself, I choose to live in a micro-culture that places a very high premium on the family and views the traditional family as the building block of not only society, but of eternity. I realize it is unique and that not everyone in the country has that same perspective. Maybe they should. This family-centric culture has many positive benefits. There are a lot of families living in close proximity with the same set of values. Parents and kids support each other in their roles with kids often roaming freely in and out of several different households fully knowing their friend's mom has the same expectations of them that their own mother does. And their friend's dad is just as likely to take them up on a pick up game of basketball as their own. And they don't want to face the friend's parents disappointment at their misdeeds either. And so they try harder. It's good for the kids. They learn to get along and cooperate for a bigger goal at very young ages. They are taught to accomplish, to lead, to work for what they want and to share it with others. In my estimation these are values that cannot be effectively taught anywhere but the traditional family... a mom and a dad who actively parent their children.

If you look at deviant and antisocial behavior in children you find that many of these kids grew up in single parent households, often dependent on welfare handouts, and often spending many hours home alone while mom worked or, in worst cases, partied. How often do you hear about the juvenille thug who doesn't even know who his daddy is? A large proportion of deviant antisocial children grow up without the structure and social support inherent in the traditional family unit. And feeling that lack, they seek a sense of belonging to something bigger than just themselves wherever they can find it. Too often that is accomplished with gang affiliation. Too often, the child knows he's doing wrong but feels such an overwhelming need to belong that he does it anyway. Too often it is the only example he sees growing up and thinks that it's normal.

This is why I support marriage before sex. This is why I support that marriage should be between one man and one woman. This is why I support traditional families. These situations best produce children who grow into responsible productive adults.

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