I once arrested a teenager whose father always denied his son’s culpability. On that particular night, the teenager participated in a drive-by shooting where 50 bullets were indiscriminately fired toward 50 patrons standing outside a theater. The teenager’s aim was as poor as his common sense, and thankfully no one was hurt.
While smirking, but handcuffed, in the back seat of my patrol car, he said, “My dad is going to kill me when I get home tonight.” I responded by saying, “Why do you think you are going home tonight?” His eyes immediately swelled with tears when he must have realized his seventeenth birthday was the week before, and he was no longer considered a juvenile. His age, compounded by the seriousness of his alleged crime, removed his father’s ability to “save him” from incarceration and the mean ole police.
When people are not held accountable for their actions they often adapt to the lowest expectation. The fervor of a mother or father can foil a child’s future by freeing the child from fated responsibility. To that end and in jest, a police department might employ the following telephone answering message.
* To explain that your child’s car is a clunker and it could not possibly exceed the speed limit, press 1.
* If you want to make excuses that your child is not guilty because all the other kids were doing the same thing, press 2
* If you really don’t care if your child is guilty but want your child exonerated anyway, press 3
* To lie that that your child is a little angel and could not possibly have committed the crime, press 4.
I once overheard a teacher lamenting about a mother’s comment during a seventh grade teacher/parent conference that all teachers mistreat her child. Considering the (child) was the least common dominator, it didn’t take math to determine the personality that hampered those relationships. The educator continued by declaring that some parents spend more time and energy on the three E’s (Enabling, Excuses and Entitlement) than the three R’s (Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic).
A person who simply begets a child is indeed a parent. Being a noble parent, however, means teaching children social skills and life lessons at a young age when consequences are minimal. Without learning responsibility early, a child’s future lessons could be taught by the criminal justice system.
Proper parenting is not an exact science and should not be taken lightly. Laws require a driver’s license, hunting license, fishing license, pilot’s license, and marriage license, but no special permit is needed to have children. Parenting is likely the largest responsibility people undertake. It is about loving, nurturing, supporting, and teaching children skills to be productive members of society, but it does not automatically mean being a child’s defense attorney.
Charlie Sewell is the Powder Springs chief of police. His column runs occasionally in the Marietta Daily Journal.