THE WRETCHING HEARBREAK OF TURNING IN A TROUBLED CHILD
Recently reviewing the tumultuous headlines of the current day, I was reminded of when in years now long passed, while reading the story about a young man whose parents turned him in to authorities after discovering he’d ordered materials to make a devastating bomb in a plot to destroy his high school, brought vivid memories for me in my own life as a parent. There was one instance in whereby I discovered a misdeed which one of my children had committed. It was not something that could be talked about lightly and forgiven unconditionally, but without hesitation or reservation, I remanded my child to the proper authorities.
When people asked me why I did such a thing I replied: “I’m not going to be one of those parents whose kid has been hiding bodies in the basement for years while I continually spray Febreeze and declare I never knew anything was wrong!
As parents, we are not responsible for our children’s actions after they reach a certain age, especially when we have done our due dilligence in making sure they have been well schooled in what is right and what is wrong, know the difference between having an upright moral caliber versus exhibiting reckless behavior and showing a clear lack of judgement, or electing to be law-abiding citizens rather than choosing to break the law. Parents can wait with baited breath and hope their children act responsibly but ultimately their choices are just that–their choices. Once they have executed them, the outcome will determine if they will reap rewards from their decision or face devastating consequences.
Unfortunately, depending upon the havoc they’ve chosen to wreak, they may not be the only ones that end up suffering from a mistake, a misjdgement, an error on their part. Sometimes, as today’s headlines show, the actions of a few can devastate and destroy the multitude. I’ve learned the hard way that we can’t take the ‘easy road of blaming the parent.’ Sure there are those parents that may bear the brunt of the actions of their children due to poor parenting skills, or the lack of expecting basic standards of respect for and from their children, but what about the parents that have done that and yet, their children have gone astray? After all, Adam and Eve had both Cain and Able and we all know the history of that story.
What I do have concern for is the parent that defends their child even with the confirmation and sometimes the admission from the child or in most cases, the young adult themselves that they did indeed comitt a wrongdoing or illegal act, and yet, the parent, rather than use it as a moment to teach a child how to be responsible for their actions, vehemently starts to blame others. The television sets and video games and computer programming which the parent allowed to permeat the landscape of the home. The ‘bad influencers’ the child associated with which the parent never bothered to monitor. The teachers who ‘don’t like my kid just because he/she comes to class late, never has the homework assignment and acts disrespectfully in the classroom. From the cops to the court system, the parents are convinced the world is out to conspire against their child and they simply won’t stand for it.
Like the parent that insists their daughter ‘can’t be pregnant,’ until she’s actually in her third trimester and that denial can no longer fly, we have to change what we as a society are doing. We ignore rules of nature and say let’s NOT teach sex education or birth control or how to prevent STD’s, and we see where that has left us. We embrace the motto of ‘Just Say No to Drugs,’ and we see where that has lead us. We insist our kids would ‘never do something as heinous as that,’ and then when they do, we cry that everyone in the hemisphere is out to defame our children. We teach our kids that they can be anything in the world they want–and nowadays, they don’t even have to learn to read, write and be able to compute basic math to do so! Instead they can youtube and tweet and Facebook their way to success, happiness and fame. Only now, we’re seeing what they’re youtubing, facebooking and tweeting and we are a society too ashamed to admit THAT is what we have created.
Yes, I am one of the few parents that without hesitation, without reservation and without regrets, turned my child over to the authorities in order to right a wrong, to insitll lessons that I knew had been taught, but for whatever reason, had not been heeded. I did so with a heavy heart. But I knew that had the tables been turned, I would want a loving, caring, parent who’s child had gone astray in a moment of experiencing an error in judgement, to come to me as well. Not to justify ‘why’ their child did what they did, and not to apologize for the actions of others, but to sympathize, to empathize and to recognize and visualize what type of world we could create, once we forge a different path.
I teach and train on the principles of my STEPP program and stepping up to a new you–I refuse to simply talk about steps–if I’m not also willing to show in my actions, the steps that I too, have taken! I share what happened freely with my audiences whenever the subject arises and I let them know that there is no such thing as ‘perfect parenting.’ But we do need to strive our best to acknowledge when our children have gone astray, and stand alongside them not in solidarity of the deed itself, but in letting them know that there is a time to expect rewards–and a time to accept consequences. All of it stems from the decisions, the choices we make each moment of each day of our lives!
Sherry Brantley is the author of STEPP: Start To Exercise Personal Power–How To Create Positive Change in Your LIfe! She is also a Speaker and Trainer, S.T.E.P.P.’s Mission Statement: To assist people to make positive choices in their lives on a daily basis to effect positive change by tapping into and utilizing their Personal Power while accepting and respecting the Personal Power of others.
‘STEPP Up To YOU!’