Adam Davis


Who is raising our children?
M. Adam Davis

Tuesday Morning, April 20th: two teenagers entered a high school with intent to destroy. Between them they had a sawed off shotgun, a rifle, a semi-automatic handgun, and countless explosives. That day in that school fifteen people lost their lives. While we could look at this as an isolated incident, we can’t hide the fact that our society is permeated with violence and violent tendencies. Within two days nearly every news reporting service published a list of "…some of the warning signs that someone may be considering violence," part of a brochure created in response to the many school shootings in the last few years. In the past thirty years, violence has increased an astounding 500%(American Family Institute). Compare the top seven school problems in California for 1940 and today:

Top Seven School Problems-1940:
  1. Talking out of turn
  2. Chewing gum
  3. Making noise
  4. Running in the halls
  5. Cutting in line
  6. Dress code violations
  7. Littering

(AmFam, Vol 2 Pg 5)

Top Seven School Problems-Today:
  1. Drug Abuse
  2. Alcohol abuse
  3. Pregnancy
  4. Suicide
  5. Rape
  6. Robbery
  7. Assault

We, as a society, have allowed our level of acceptable behavior to rise to incredible heights. Who is to blame? Where did the failure occur? Astonishingly, the failure has occured in our own homes.

The Webster’s Dictionary defines a parent as follows:

parent n : a father or mother; one who begets or one who gives birth to or nurtures and raises a child; a relative who plays the role of guardian [ant: {child}]
v : bring up; "raise a family"; "bring up children" [syn: {rear}, {raise}, {bring up}, {nurture}](bsy)

A parent is a person who "nurtures and raises a child…a relative who plays the role of guardian." Our society has "progressed" to the point where we do not see parenting as a noble and good contribution to society. When one answers the question, "What do you do for a living?" with "I am a homemaker." That person is often looked on as an oddity. It is thought that the person is lazy, or could not secure employment. In our society the definition for a parent has been shortened to, "a father or mother; one who begets or one who gives birth to" a child. Sixty-six percent of all American families with children under eighteen are families where both parents are employed (Census). Since 1960 the average income of Americans has doubled in inflation-adjusted dollars (Gnorski). The median income for two-income families is $63,772, while the median income for single-income families is only $18,078 less at $45,694 (Census). While one cannot say that there are no families which must have both incomes to survive, one also has to admit that there are many people who will put their wants and perceived needs ahead of their children’s need to be nurtured.

"The family structure remained virtually intact - weathering disease, famine, natural disaster and war - until the 1960’s. That tumultous decade attacked authority and institutions and society’s long-accepted rules and norms. Personal freedoms overrode personal responsibility." (Gnorski) As personal responsibility gave way to personal freedom, many parenting skills were lost. Divorce skyrocketed. As each generation progressed, more skills were lost. "People are playing out these parenting roles in the same way they saw their parents play out these roles." (DuHamel) The roles have changed, but the need for security and safety within the family structure still exists (Wolin). The average couple today spends only four minutes of uninterupted time together a day(American Family Institute).

Where does this place our children? We send them to day care centers, to school, and to their friends. Only 34% of America’s families eat one meal together each day. The average father spends 8-10 minutes a day with his children, including TV and meal times (American Family Institute). As we place our children in other institutions, what values and morals do they gain? Certainly not those of their parents. We are leaving them to learn, on their own, the principles that will guide their life. What principles are they learning? "The plain truth is that I wouldn’t even want my children in a [day care] center that I myself directed, simply because of the number of children that they would have to compete with for attention. I have learned that if they can’t get the attention they need, they will seek it in other ways." (Anonymous)

The lists published of warning signs of impending violence were created from the profile of individuals who were crying out for individual attention. There is no possible way that any institution can give that attention to each individual. As we neglect our children, sending them to others to be raised, we send the message that they are not individually important. "It tells children that no one loves them specifically for their unique traits and is willing to sacrifice to meet their needs. And we wonder why children are growing up to be selfish and hard to handle. The message that they are special and important gets lost, so they seek for identity in other ways-sometimes in scary ways." (Anonymous)

We must give our attention to the nurturing of our children. A family who is close together will not need a list of warning signs, they will know if a member is unhappy. This closeness must start with the parent(s). There is no other substitute for the family, and there is no one who will take the responsibility of the parent.

It has been said that within the family exist the greatest joys that can be felt by the human soul. Often left out is the fact that within the same family can be felt the greatest pain. This pain is the pain of a child who does not feel loved. It is the pain of the parent who has lost their child, either physically or emotionally. Only through our own sacrifice can we, as parents, experience the joy that children can bring. "It really boils down to the knowledge and commitment on the part of a parent with a child, or one or more children. It’s in that give and take that we are defining what the next generation in this country is going to be like and what our country is going to look like." (DuHamel)

Unfortunately many of the skills parents need have been lost. We don’t know how to nurture each other. "Someone who is able to accept the responsibility for being a parent, which means setting aside one’s personal goals, setting aside career pursuits, not completely, and can establish priorities that place family and children at the top, and everything else comes after that, if you have that, then you have people who are comfortable in the parenting role." (DuHamel) The responsibility for making this happen lies with us. We have to make our families our first priority. We can’t let other things get in the way of our children’s furture. We need to teach commitment and responsibility to our children, so they can be better parents.

"Husband and wife have a solemn responsibility to love and care for each other and for their children…Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, to teach them to love and serve one another, to observe the commandments of God and to be law-abiding citizens wherever they live." (LDS Church) We can only blame ourselves for the tragedies that are occurring in our society. But we can do something about them. We must teach our children to be better parents than we are. We can only do that by being better parents ourselves.

American Family Institute. "Did you know?"
Rebuilding America 4 January 1999 (Invalid Link as of May 10, 1999)

Gnorski, Blankenhorn, Hardy, DuHamel, Wolin, Wolin, Simon. "Parenting: Who’s Raising Our Children?"
Today’s Life Choices Episode 1109

Anonymous. "Who’s Raising America? Confessions of a Commited Day Care Provider"
Rebuilding America 4 January 1999 (Invalid Link as of May 10, 1999)

Bsy. "HyperText Webster Gateway: Parent"
Webster’s Dictionary 24 April 1999,University of California San Diego

The First Presidency and Council of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS Church). "The Family: A Proclamation to the World"
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints 23 September 1995

US Census Bureau. "Current Population Survey (CPS) Reports"
March 1988