Someone has to raise the children

By Tom Putnam | Oct 09, 2010

Our children, like the young of all species, have to be taught how to behave, to distinguish between what is safe or harmful, and right and wrong; but most importantly, what is loyalty and love.

That training must begin during the first year of life and continue during the ensuing years. Kindergarten begins formal education years but the child must be schooled at home in how to subconsciously assess and evaluate each life experience.

These may be social, academic, economic, or life-threatening judgment calls. If we don't do that, our children will be raised by those whom they meet along the way. They will be affected by those mores, good or bad. Lifelong behavior, values, and relationships are affected by the child's initial experiences during the first several years of life before they have any significant memory or recall.

If a child's initial educational years have been lacking, he or she adopts what is learned from children met in school, on streets, in stores, wherever. Those experiences then become the adopted beliefs of the child from early childhood, right and wrong, safe and dangerous, helpful and disastrous, fair and selfish, mostly selfish as a form of self-preservation.

Which method offers a child the greatest chance for self-fulfillment and happiness, as well as development of concern and sense of responsibility for fellow citizens?

In the U.S., there has been much about the liberation of women in the work force. This was not so great an issue in the past: a woman's place was in the home and the man's place was in the field. Women raised children and inculcated her values in them. The man took home food and demonstrated that aspect of life. Most importantly, however, at least one person was raising children.

Today, the chance to produce income for the family is so varied and expanded that there is no question that either sex has the ability to do so. Both should have equal rights to be part of the workforce.

This works well as long as no children are involved. Once a child enters the home, then parents have to find a solution, one that will be in the best interests of the child who hopefully one day will become a responsible, happy, and satisfied American citizen of the world, and eventually a good parent.

As far as the child's welfare is concerned, it would be best if one parent (I am not saying who) selects the opportunity to stay home and raise that child. Yes, the other parent will be part of that child's life when at home. There must be considerable time spent in reading to the child as a means of opening his or her eyes to the surrounding world. The parent who has not been well-parented will likely have some difficulty in parenting, but love and concern for that child's welfare will go far in overcoming that deficit.

If the parent cannot stay home during the first three to four years, then a solution must be found. If the parent is lucky and has a parent or other relative who can raise the youngster during those early formative years, the child stands to benefit. If there is no relative available, then an outsider must be sought. This is a tremendous decision that the parent must make: the person/persons must have been parented well themselves so they innately know how to rear their new charge. If this is not possible, the child will be the one who eventually suffers through lack of self esteem, selfishness, and thoughtlessness about others.

Lately, we are seeing the results of the lack of adequate child rearing. There has been recent press about how well children have been doing in standardized testing during elementary school years. Over the past several years, the gap in school testing results between income levels has narrowed and everyone has been elated; however, over  the past year, that gap has widened again and the examination methods have been called into question. One telling comment concerned the lack of a father in many homes as a possible factor.

When the decision is made to bring a child into our wonderful world -- hopefully that issue has been given some thought and a commitment made -- parents have assumed with eagerness the responsibilities and opportunities of raising that child in the best environment they can provide. And that means more of an emotional environment than a physical one. When the preschool years have ended, hopefully the child will be ready for formal education and the parent should strive to see that the child is able to attend the most stimulating school with the finest teachers available. That will provide a lasting result that will benefit all members of a lively democracy. Thomas Jefferson would be proud.



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