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November 12, 2010

Bad Parents - Should They Be Against the Law?

We've all seen it. We've been out to eat at a restaurant, dining with our significant other, and watched as a 4-year-old runs all over the place, getting in the waitress' way and generally making your dinner hell through all of the commotion.

You look at each other and say "Where are the parents?" or "Where's the mom?" (Funny how we never say "Where's the dad?", eh?) Some might even say "there oughtta be a law."

But really, should there be?

Do we really want to go there?

Marybeth Hicks over on Ricochet (lots of good stuff over there) asks the questions: Are we free to be lousy parents?

As she states at the beginning of her post, there is a difference between "bad" parents and parents who *should* be prosecuted, such as abusive or neglectful parents who victimize their kids.

We're talking the "bad" category here.

Many good points are made in the post or in the comments, including this one: For those of you who think there *should* be laws about bad parents, who's going to make the decision? You? Me? Some government bureaucrat who takes a kid away because the new mother had a poppy seed bagel? Do you really want the government making those kinds of decisions? It screws up the ones it *should* be making!

"And what about that poor kid of his? It's not the child's fault that he was unlucky enough to be born to a stinky father. Shouldn't someone rescue him?

Here's the rub: This is the mentality that is bringing us legislation such as that in Louisiana which took effect last week, requiring schools to refer to the state's Department of Families and Children any parent who is at least three days in arrears in payments for school lunches. (Read more about it here)."

One commenter also says that these kids, and these parents, shouldn't be given a pass. I agree with that. We, as a society, should speak up. But the government?

Also keep in mind that we are seeing just a snapshot of the child's behaviour. We are not seeing the whole picture.

A commenter makes this point:

"I have 4 kids and each presents different challenges. Eventually you are going to have to pick your battles and concede some.

If you catch me conceeding one and that's all you see, you might mistake me for a bad parent. But you don't know of the 100 battles I won before that time."

In addition, there might be other reasons the child's misbehaving, as one of my blogging friends knows very intimately. We just don't know when we only see a 30-minute block out of that child's life.

To somebody like me, who will never be a parent, this comes down to a societal issue: Do we want the government actually determining who is a good and a bad parent?

That's not a slippery slope. That's an avalanche.

(Don't worry. I will get off this Nanny State issue soon. There's just been so much in the news recently. I'll try to make my next post more fun)


  1. That four year old running around the restaurant drives me crazy and may even cause me to leave but so does the 13 year old who owns a Burberry anything and the 16 year old who calls his mother b*tch. But these choices of parenting shouldn't be determined 'bad' or warrant any kind of intervention by our government. If we continue to allow government to choose what is best for us, where will it end??

    Under the new LA description of bad parenting (3 days of arrears of lunch money), I would be reported as a bad parent, numerous times.

    --- tangent here----
    Just the other day I decided to tan a bit before going on vacation, knowing I would protect myself from being burned. I was told of the new laws, limiting how often I can tan, new taxes imposed, etc. Seriously? First of all, I am an adult and can make my own decisions. Secondly, I can go to a bar and get ripped out of my mind every day, or eat fast food while morbidly obese, but I can't tan for more than 20 minutes? Wth?

    Then again, in a couple of years, maybe there will be a limit on how many Big Macs or Gin and tonics are allowed at one time. Yeah right.

  2. I complimented Evette on her comments on Facebook, and I'll say the same thing to you, Raquel.

    I love getting comments from you, because they are always awesome.

    I'm with you on the whole "keep government out of our lives thing"!

    As for your tangent, that's just insane. I knew Obamacare was raising taxes on tanning, but I didn't know they restricted it as well!

    I can see the salon restricting it, because they don't want any future trouble from customers who over-indulge, but a law? That's ridiculous.

    They're already trying to restrict Happy Meals in San Fran, so Big Macs can't be far behind!

    Thanks for the great comment.

  3. How about if schools could send kids home when they are constantly out of control? As teachers we see the kids for 6 hours a day, is that enough to "know the kid?" I think some teachers know their students better than their own parents. I find it very frustrating that kids can run amok, and constantly interrupt the learning of others at school and we just tolerate it, blame it on ADHD, bad parenting, or some other excuse (my favorite - "oh boys will be boys!) I am now done with my rant. Thank you.

  4. That would be a good thing!

    I don't like how our teachers are expected to raise our kids nowadays. That fact that you do as well as you do is a testament to you, though.

    While I don't think the government should be able to remove kids from "bad" parents, I do think the rest of us should be able to deal with things in our own way. Regarding your "sending the kids home" wish, I completely agree! Maybe that would be a slap upside the parents' head that they'd better do something about their kid.

    Thanks for the comment, CA!

  5. *Thinks I might be the "bloggy friend" Dave is speaking of.

    My son is what you would call "silently" disabled. He appears "normal" on the outside, where physical appearances are concerned.

    But inside, it is a constant battle for my son to "be good". He struggles DAILY with his behavior, emotional, attention, focusing and sensory issues.

    Some days are good. And some well...they aren't. And I cannot ALWAYS get him under control. He is physically nine years old. But of the mindset of ages 4 to 6 years of age, maturely and mentally.

    Yes, I've (or actually I should say "we") have gotten the stares, the eye rolls, head shakes and the good old saying "you need to just start whipping his ass more and not let him run over you".

    Try a day in my life with my son, plus his two sisters, and I guarantee, you (generalizing here, not to any particular person on the post) would never whine and cry about "normal" tantrums and "wild behavior" from an NT (Neuro-Typical...mentally stable/normal) child again.

    What may look like a kid just being a complete ass with no regard for others, with an ATTENTIVE parent trying their best to take control, may actually have underlying emotional/sensory/mental/behavioral stability issue that others outside their world isn't aware. And for the most part, the child's actions are involuntary, thanks to the way that their brains are hard wired.

    If the parents look like they don't give a damn, aren't trying to "corral" the child and deal with the behavior/acting out, then yes, I would think that something is wrong with the PARENTS, not the unruly child.

    And that's my two cents. (=

  6. I really should code these so as not to be so obvious. LOL

    Yes, you were the exact person I was referring to.

    Or maybe that shows that I have such a limited number of friends that it can't help but be obvious? :P

    Thanks for the very insightful comment. I hope people become more aware of that type of thing, and keep it in mind if it's happening around them.


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