Parents: It's about protection, not love

Getting more from your kids than you give is a kind of 'welfare'

August 18, 2010|By Patrice Frasier

The more I see in Baltimore, the city I live in, as well as the more news I see and read, the more I am convinced too many of us are becoming "welfare" parents. When I use the term "welfare," I am not talking about income level but the idea that we are getting something for nothing — in this case, something much more valuable than money.

So many of us as parents have convinced ourselves that our main role is to love and be loved by our children, but the reality is that the giving and receiving of love is a benefit — not an on-the-job task. How can you not love a child and feel some sense of enjoyment when a child loves you? And yet, our job as parents (and yes, it is a job because you have to work at it) is to protect children, not to love them. Too many of us get the "love" benefit but don't put in the work.

When, as a parent, you don't raise your child to protect them from present and future dangers, you have failed as a parent. Of course, parenting is about trial and error, but some of us are so extreme in our behavior, you can't help but to be called a "welfare" parent. Some signs that you may be a welfare parent:

1. If you consistently put your child in life-threatening situations (e.g. bringing strange men and women around your child and leaving your child with anybody and everybody just so you can have a good time).

2. Failing to support your child in getting a quality education so that when he or she gets older, they are unable to support themselves or their own children without using illegal means or getting handouts from others.

3. If your child has the latest style of Nike's, the hottest toys and clothes but has no books, is reading below grade level and can't spell his or her name.

4. If you give your child everything he or she wants but they never have to work for it or earn it.

5. If you belittle and call your child everything but their given name or a child of God on a regular basis.

6. If you don't make a regular and consistent effort to know who your child's friends are and what type of people they are. (At some point your child's friends will influence their behavior more than you will, so as parents we have to keep an eye on what type of people are influencing our children.)

7. If you fail to discipline your child so that he or she knows there are consequences for negative actions. (If this happens, don't be upset when they get older and are rude, obnoxious and ungrateful adults that can't keep a job or maintain lasting relationships.)

Too many of us are falling into the trap of trying to be our children's friends while avoiding the job of being our children's parents. And I see this from rich to poor and in between. As a teacher, the line I hate the most from a parent is "I can't do anything" or "I don't know what to do with him/her." So if you, as the parent, can't control your child, I guess you are expecting me to do your "job."

I am making the effort to keep off of "welfare" and actually earn the love I receive daily from my child. Hopefully, we "working" parents can help get some others off "welfare."

Patrice Frasier, a teacher, lives in Baltimore. Her e-mail is

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