We’ve all heard it: “As long as you love your kids, they’ll know it. That’s all they need.”
I call B.S.
One thing I’ve seen in the past year and a half of caring for children that are biologically related to another family is that you can love your kids and still be a totally crappy parent.
Don’t get me wrong. I am not trying to put myself above other parents. I suppose I need to put that disclaimer out there because it’s the thing to do. But, tonight, I am a bit angry, and sad. Not for our family but for the family of someone close to me. And tonight, it hits me that there really ARE some just plain crap parents out there. It’s not about us being better so much as it being about them being so epically bad that trying to take kids in for six months, a year, two years, almost seems like an exercise in futility because they will just end up back in that same toxic situation they came from and any good that has been done will get undone in the blink of an eye.
I am angry
Until recently, I had a hard time wrapping my mind around it. I could clearly see that these parents loved their kids. But they were crap parents. Did they not really love their kids? Were they just so good at manipulation that they had me convinced that they loved their kids when in reality they didn’t? Was I just looking at the situation hoping for the best because I cannot imagine WHY someone could mistreat a child? How could they do it and still say they love their kids? They HAVE to be liars. Yes, it was the only way I could make sense of it.
Events and experiences over the past few weeks have caused me to change my tune. No, there’s no deception going on here. It is possible (and in all of these cases, I’m fairly certain of it) that these parents DO love their kids AND they are crummy parents. Things like their own pride, denial, lack of education and even talent just plain make them lousy parents. It’s possible that I could love to play basketball. I might really enjoy it. But I might still be a lousy player. I may not want to take the advice of others because I am in such denial about the fact that I am no good and, after all, my love for the game should be enough. Or, I may just not have the natural talent for it, no matter how hard I work at it and how many people I listen to. I might improve, but there’s a pretty solid chance that I just won’t be a good basketball player. Almost anyone can play basketball, but simply put, not everyone is going to be good at it.
The system sucks, but it’s the system we have.
The reality is, the system is set up such that lousy parenting is not against the law. Violence and negligence is (the latter being a bit harder to prove), but being a bad parent is not against the law. So, as a result, kids get pulled from their homes because of an event. Parents (who love their kids) go through and fulfill the requirements (because they’re requirements – NOT because they think it’s needed), the kids go back, and the parents go back to being the lousy parents they are.
These children deserve more. And while I am not a fan of kids being taken out of their homes willy-nilly, I get so bloody frustrated by the fact that there are so many who are clearly not getting what they need in order to thrive but it’s not bad enough to do anything. Common sense and minimal critical thinking would cause anyone to come to the same conclusion but what’s being done is not illegal and, therefore, there is nothing to be done.
I have no real point to make here. I have no solution either. And yes, I realize that I’m coming across as some pompous know-it-all who thinks he’s perfect (believe me, I don’t believe that at all). But one thing I do know is that kids need more than love. They need to know more than just that their parents love them. The conclusion I’ve come to is that the thing that separates good parents from the bad ones; the thing that makes the children FEEL loved AND important is when the parent is emotionally and intellectually ready to put the needs of their kids ahead of the wants of their own. Until a person is willing to do that, in my humble opinion, they have no business being a parent.
Note: Please understand this is a rant. It is frustration, but it is not me giving up. Instead, it is a reminder that we (I) have to work even harder to have as much of a positive impact as we (I) can on both the children and the system, while we (I) have the opportunity and ability to do it.