ResponsibilityWhose responsibility is it to make sure a child is fed? Being a parent, I always assumed that one of the responsibilities that parenthood brings is providing for the children that you bring into this world. I know that others disagree with me, and that there have been parents since the beginning of humanity who have ignored their children, ran away from them, or worse. But the average parent who brings or sends their children to school every day should take that responsibility seriously, and I'd like to think that most do.
At the school where I teach, around 85 percent of students qualify for a free or reduced price lunch. And now, as I'm sure I've reported before, all students are entitled to free breakfast, which is usually some kind of sickeningly sweet General Mills cereal and milk, or a Poptart, or these weirdly shaped edible objects that are labeled as bagels with cream cheese. Not all of the students eat these breakfasts. Some pull out their Flaming Hot Cheetos, or Cheez-it's, or Doritos, or BBQ flavored potato chips, or Airheads, or Snickers bars instead. I used to object. I used to insist on healthy snacks. Parents overruled me.
One little girl has come in late a couple of times recently, around 11:00. This is about a half hour after snack time, and almost two hours before lunch. Both times she's asked if she could get her breakfast. She was hungry. Mean guy that I am, I refused. Students pick up their breakfasts when they walk in the room at 8:25. By 9:00, the remaining breakfasts are carted off to be reused the next day. She would have had to walk down to the other end of the school to the cafeteria, where lunches were already being served to beg for her cereal and milk. I thought it would take too much more time out of her already shortened school day. Then she asked if she could eat her snack, a bag of chips. I wasn't going to let her until she explained that Mom doesn't feed her breakfast on school days, as she gets a free breakfast at school.
Yes, she is being raised by a young single mother, you know, the kind that Ann Coulter was less than kind to when she had the politically incorrect nerve to reveal the statistics on how poorly children of single mothers do in life. Coulter took a lot of heat from resentful members of the media who can't admit that their feel-good opinions of their own virtue have no basis in reality. This is the kind of mother that Coulter was talking about.
I have no doubt that mom loves her daughter and that she is doing the best she can. However, mom, like many single moms I've dealt with over the years, is working and going to school. She wants to improve her own life and the life or her daughter, but due to the time she must spend on her own pursuits, time and money for her daughter are in short supply. Should she and other single moms be held up as heroes for working hard for their children?
I don't think so. Yes, they're working hard, but they've made the poor decision to create a human being who is totally dependent on them, who looks to them as the example for life, and who has to suffer due to the adult's lack of maturity and decision making ability. Single moms have to work much harder than women who have a husband to help with child rearing. And as Ann and other vilified writers point out, children need fathers. And not just to make sure they have breakfast at home on the days that they're late for school. Well, that is, I think there are other reasons. I'll ask my kids.
One mom, a few years ago, thrilled at the birth of her latest fatherless child, was further cheered because her boyfriend (the father) was visiting regularly and wanted to help raise the child. I never heard anything about the father of her child who was in my class.
It's not just single moms though. One year, one of my students came in with a free lunch form. I sent her to the office to turn it in. She was from a two parent family. Mom drove a new Mercedes.
Is the government, through myriad welfare agencies, subsidizing laziness, cheating, irresponsibility, and poor choices? You bet they are. But that's one of those things that's obvious to anyone who has been paying attention to patterns in child rearing these past 40 years.