Real Talk: Parenting is at the root of everything, folks – The Community Word | Wonder Mind Kids

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DEMARIO BOONE

Since I work in school for almost half of my life, I have seen many problems with children. It seems to have gotten noticeably more serious lately – more aggression, more serious crimes, the anger, the pain. Those who serve children in a scholastic capacity must bear the brunt. For many children, they show a brokenness that paralyzes them on a daily basis. Often this brokenness can be at the root:
Our parenting.
Parenting can be one of the most difficult things we can do in life. Shaping a person to become the best version of themselves is a lifelong process. This does not end at
Age 18 or when leaving home. Having this child is a lifetime commitment. It is a commitment to raise that child in your care with as little trauma as possible, lest it return to your grandchildren or great-grandchildren. It’s a lifelong, selfless commitment.
It’s not having a child and then feeling like they owe you. Nor should they leave the nest out of jealousy and become more successful and happier in life. That’s the plan: for them to grow under your care to achieve more than you could ever imagine. This is the success of parenting: the ultimate selfless act.
When I have many of our most difficult kids in school, I always ask the question, “What happened to you?” I don’t just look at them for what they did wrong or label them “bad kids,” but what is happened to them?
On many occasions I see a problem with a mother (don’t worry, fathers are next). I see many students with this single mom in the house trying to do everything. Stressed. Many mothers deal with it very well and almost perfectly. Some unfortunately struggle with the weight of it all. I’ve seen mums keep away dads who wanted to be there because of a failed relationship. Others allow a conflicting, abusive father to weave in and out of the child’s life simply by trying to have a man to support them. There are mothers who tease the father and take out the pain on their child – they scold them daily for little things, get overly physical with them and even tell a child that they are unwanted. If you ask them, some mothers don’t know why the mere sight of a child makes them so angry. They’re hurt, alone, and trying to reconcile in the face of an absent man.
And these kids walk into a school building broken. So broken that all they can do is rage. Forget math class, they fight in life class.
I see the other half most often: the father problem. There are some extremely great fathers of many of our children. But far too many of our children are the products of absent or fickle fathers. Fathers whose only contribution to this child was to create them. Fathers who weave in and out of a child’s life inconsistently. Many times they show up for discipline, make broken promises, set a bad example in how to love or treat a partner, and then become the first person to walk out of a child’s life. I’ve heard many men tout child support as a significant contribution. Unfortunately, it doesn’t even scratch the surface of the struggles that a single parent must endure.
The real child support wakes up at 2am and holds this kid because she had a bad dream. Watching them repeatedly say “Look at me” when they’re just doing a jumping jack or something similar. Being woken up from a deep sleep to find they forgot they had homework and need your help with math in a way you never learned. For a child to simply hear the words out of a father’s mouth: “I’m so proud of you.”
More than ever, our children need men to fill in these critical gaps. That’s child support. This is fatherhood. No amount of money equals the absence of a father.
In the middle is the child. Given the inconsistencies of the root (parenting), we cannot be surprised at the inconsistencies that some of our children exhibit. Unable to deal with conflict, they fight or shoot. Without ever receiving affection or validation from their parents, they lust for it on the street from others with youthful behavior (stealing cars, fighting, criminal behavior). We wonder why – in many cases – juvenile delinquency is increasing.
Inconsistent parenting by us leads to inconsistent little people and their behavior. Not always, but in many cases.
I wish I had the magic solution to all of this while witnessing these stories firsthand. But we can start anywhere. Each example I have given is a combination of real-life incidents. It plays every school year and keeps growing. We as parents and as a community need to be more conscious about our parenting. The community and elected officials need to be more aware of support (housing, finance, mental health services, etc.). We as parents must be intentional in the attitude we take towards these children. Holding them accountable when they start to stray, mimicking adult behaviors they are meant to mimic, and preventing the traumas passed on to us from reaching them. To break these generational curses.
There are some experiences children need to have in order to be whole. It’s the little things that count. A little trip out of town, the family sitting around a table at dinner and saying: “I love you”, “I am proud of you”, “I am glad that you are my child”, common tasks and responsibilities, etc. Give them the tools to become sane by giving them as few traumatic experiences as possible.
A normal human brain is not fully developed until the early to mid 20s. This is projected without serious traumatic experiences. The more traumatic experiences (crying at home, poverty, domestic violence, motherless home, fatherless home, lack of love, missed necessary experiences) slow down this process.
When a child constantly experiences pain, poverty, absence, and violence, these are neuropathies etched into their brain. It will take extensive therapy to reverse them and find new ways to enable them to respond better in these situations.
For this reason, Frederick Douglass said, “It is easier to build up strong children than to mend broken men.”
This problem cannot be left to one school district alone to solve. This is an all-man-on-deck approach required to save the village.
“Children who do not feel embraced by the village will burn it down to feel its warmth…” – African proverb
— Demario Boone is the director of public safety at Peoria Public Schools

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