Enabling Failure - And Response

Saturday, March 18, 2017
We must stop enabling dysfunctional schools and homes, because it facilitates multi-generational poverty. Our culture has embraced differences so much that we now foster failure. We allow parents to relinquish parental responsibilities while retaining the benefits of being a parent. Sadly in some cases children have become tickets to food, shelter and income for parents.  While these charitable offerings serve good purposes, they should come with the responsibility to parent children productively.

Society now accepts counter productive parenting and in doing so inadvertently allows childhood futures to be sacrificed. We see the children, bemoan the poverty, and excuse the parent. This attitude fails to address the weakest link in education, the home. Too often we expect the teacher, school and money to replace what’s missing at home. This situation has gone on so long that we have accepted it as “just the way things are.” It’s the new normal. We see it, accept it and fund more of it.    

Society enforces too few parental consequences. We feel sorry for the children, but we rarely  remove children from hobbling home environments. If removal occurs, it often comes too late.  We fail to recognize the warning signs. Why is a child constantly tardy? Why has a child missed so many days of school? Why does a child come to school hungry or dressed in shorts when it’s freezing outside?  Why is a child sad or distracted? There is always a reason.  At what point should someone from outside the home sit down with a parent and identify what is happening (or is not happening) and what must change?

How long should we wait on a mother to change before we save the child? In nine months (a school year) a child can fall one grade behind. At what point can a teacher, social worker, public health nurse, the neighbor next door, a mother figure or a father figure facilitate change for these children? We seem to have no action plan for these problems. A parent should not be given more time to adopt a change at home than a child needs to fail. At some point society must break the cycle of failure, in favor of the child. Children must come first.  

More children should be parted from chronically dysfunctional homes. Stability is important to children. We would do better to fund good public boarding schools than to allow our children to move from their dysfunctional homes into the pseudo-families called gangs. Sound expensive? We are already funding dysfunctional homes, jails, lawyers and busy criminal courts at great expense. Ironically, crime and poverty are very expensive. We can fund more of the same with the same results, or we can fund something different that has worked.     

Some will argue this editorial is too critical of parents, but that is not the goal. The goal is to break a cycle of poverty and enable children to thrive in school and life. 

There was a time when things were different. Action plans were expected, accepted and automatically implemented. If you didn’t finish your class work on time, you stayed after class to do it. If you misbehaved you were paddled, served after school detention or parents were called in. How many children were ruined in that old disciplinary process? How many are ruined for the lack of it today? Ask every successful person if there were rules at school and at home. Back in the dark ages (1920 to 1960), if a child was not progressing in school, the teacher would call the parents in for a parent-teacher conference and the parents would go. If a child was habitually tardy or absent, the “authorities” would visit the home to determine an action plan to meet the child’s needs. Parents were put on notice and the threat for non-compliance was losing the child. If a child is not thriving in their environment, something should change. At what point should we say, enough is enough?  Let’s try something old and put child welfare first once again.


Deborah Scott 


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In the same breath you advocate taking children from dysfunctional and abusive homes, and lament the loss of the days when school officials could punish children by paddling them. 


Children shouldn't be made to suffer through any environment where they can't thrive, but if you're suggesting that children that pass through our broken foster care and adoption system are better off, you're being ignorant.

All sorts of hell is raised at the threat of the government taking away guns, but letting them take children is okay in your book? I wouldn't trust them to make the right decision with a petty cash fund, much less give them any more power than they already have to separate families.

Ray Ingraham

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