I Blame Bad Kids on Bad Parenting
I remember a local morning radio DJ asking listeners to call in with stories of their worst birthdays.
A woman called in saying not one of her three grown sons bothered to call to wish her a happy birthday. She was most upset by her oldest son whom she explained was currently living out of his car.
He still showed up unannounced and slept in her guest room. Furthermore, she went on to lament that he “smells real bad,” so she always had to wash the sheets afterward.
This poor mother was baffled how her own son, who imposed himself on her all the time, couldn’t even be bothered to call on her birthday.
The radio DJ was sympathetic. I rolled my eyes.
Sure, sure, it sounded like she had some pretty selfish sons. Especially the oldest one. Sure, sure. But I couldn’t help wondering how the hell her son ended up like this. If he’s a grown man why was he living out of his car?
Or, even better, what kind of mother lets her child get to this point? That’s the question she should’ve been asking herself.
A friend of mine at one of the local school districts has worked with troubled youth for ten years. I asked for her take on the story.
“I can pretty much guarantee if a kid puts himself down a “bad path” the vast majority of the time it’s due to the parents.”
Maybe it’s under-parenting: they’re negligent and don’t watch over their kid. Or maybe it’s over-parenting: they’re so smothering the kid starts getting into stupid shit just to rebel.
Either way, you can pin the hairy tail of responsibility on the parents’ misguided asses. Kids are blank slates and on these blank slates, parents get to paint the most beautiful works of art or the vilest graffiti.
Yes, sometimes kids are born with conditions that may lead to certain behaviors. Yes, sometimes kids have friends who are “bad influences.”
But ultimately, if a kid turns out to be a fuck-up of the living-out-of-his-car magnitude, it’s probably because of something the parents did, or failed to do.
Yes, sometimes there are circumstances outside parents’ control. Yes, sometimes parents do everything they’re supposed to but their kid still gets messed up somehow.
Yes, it can happen. Sometimes.
Just like how you can get struck by lightning. Sometimes.
“It’s rarely the case, though. When I have a student who’s the embodiment of dysfunction and I call his parents in and sit down with all of them, just seeing a few minutes of their interactions is enough to make me go, ‘Yup. That’s where it came from.’
Not once in ten years have I had a kid who’s just rotten, only to meet their parents and be left wondering how two seemingly well-adjusted adults could’ve produced a monster of such ridiculous proportions.
The mother who called the radio station reeked of parenting red flags, not the least of which was how self-absorbed she seemed in her own woes.
To solve the mystery of why she had three shitty kids I’m going to point one gigantic judgmental finger at her shitty parenting. Because that’s where the fucking up usually begins.
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