More Serious Stuff – Deep Thought, Castration and the Importance of Parents

I started doing more thinking after writing yesterday’s post. There was a lot to think about, mostly about murdered teenagers. After bringing two kids up in a city that had a poor reputation at one time, you can get quite thoughtful.

Interestingly, the writers blame the Labour government for the various problems, where most of the people these days blame the Conservatives. That is probably a sign that we should leave politics out of the discussion.

Youth clubs, youth sports and such things are, at best, distractions rather than a cure. If you are keeping kids off the street they can’t get into trouble. When looking at funding possibilities I’ve often seen the terms “distraction” or “displacement activity”.

We had quite a few difficult kids at the various rugby clubs we attended. Some were the typical sort of inner city kid you’d expect to be in trouble (who we used to work with in Rugby League) and others, in Rugby Union, were much more affluent and better educated.

One of the things I noticed was that you could put a lot of effort in and make no discernible difference. I also noticed that if the parents weren’t engaged nothing seemed to work. That held good for all the kids – parents who were at work all the time were just as bad as parents who deserted their family.

So my solution to the problem is to put the family back at the centre of things. I’d also be prepared to think about castrating absent fathers who didn’t live up to their responsibilities, though it’s likely that this would be a last resort.

It’s about the basics – decent places to live, education, jobs, reducing teenage pregnancies…

I’m starting to sound like a beauty queen here, but I’ll stop short of advocating world peace and an end to famine. It is, however, a matter of some regret that I didn’t start thinking forty years ago – it might actually have made a difference at that point.

Does anyone have any good ideas?


28 thoughts on “More Serious Stuff – Deep Thought, Castration and the Importance of Parents

  1. Clare Pooley

    Yes, I would agree with arlingwoman – quantity is better than quality. My ex-husband was very generous financially to our daughter but usually left my ex-mother-in-law to look after Alice on access weekends. Alice grew up thinking she was at fault in that relationship and that she wasn’t worth knowing.
    I have no solutions but I can think of a number of things that cause problems. As we have said already – absent parents. A lack of moral teaching, at home and in school. No way of reprimanding young people without being accused of bullying. A lack of respect for others. Someone else is always to blame for everything that goes wrong. That will do for starters, I think.

  2. beatingthebounds

    I remember the feeling of panic when we were told we could leave the hospital with our first child. It seemed totally irresponsible to send us home when we clearly had no idea what we were doing. But you muddle through. Or not. Working with kids can make you feel very illiberal. I long ago came to the conclusion that some people are just not cut out to be parents. I remember, not long after I started my teaching career, receiving a letter from a mum asking me for advice about what to do with her unruly teenage daughter. I thought then, and I would probably still feel the same, that I was woefully unqualified to offer advice and that it was probably way too late anyway. Which also applies to your castration plan – if they are already absent fathers then the horse has already bolted. Maybe all potential parents should go through the same vigorous vetting procedure which prospective adopting or fostering parents do. But who would you put in charge? You and I are probably already too busy and I’m not sure who else could be relied upon to get it right. It’s a thorny one.

    1. quercuscommunity

      Your words brought back all the panic of that first baby. Then I remembered the panic of having to look after two…

      The castration plan isn’t, I admit, foolproof. However, it would prevent repeat offences.

      Being a parent is much harder than it looks. 🙂

  3. Helen

    I think the issue of ‘absent fathers’ is quite complex. My daughter’s father is absent, refusing to see her at the child contact centre where he was granted the right to see her four times a year. She’s grounded and happy, so clearly while her dad is missing her growing up, she isn’t missing his dangerous presence.

    I know plenty of families in a similar position to mine, so the question is: what are all the variables that make or break children growing up to be responsible, caring and happy teenagers and adults?

    1. quercuscommunity

      My personal feeling is that kids learn from what they see their parents do, rather than what we tell them. They can learn from one parent.

      I suspect you are able to provide enough input to make up for the absence of a father.

      My grandmother and her two sisters grew up with no parents in the years after the Great War. The family all pitched in to help, with one aunt giving up a fiance and emigration plans.

      Today we would just blame the government for not providing this as a service.

  4. Laurie Graves

    Time is the most precious thing a parent can give a child. Unfortunately, our country is one that celebrates working until you drop. And don’t you dare complain or ask for special things such as health care, you moocher. To work hard is good, but there is a limit. Too many parents in this country are frazzled by trying to do it all. To illustrate this, there was a recent story about a woman who drove for Uber or some such company. On her way to the hospital to have her baby, she picked up a passenger. Why not make some money while you’re in labor? I’m sure she felt it was necessary, but how sad!

    1. quercuscommunity

      I was lucky in being able to spend a lot of time with the kids, though I now feel guilty for not working harder and saving money to help with their student debts.

      A difficult balance…

      1. Laurie Graves

        I’m with you all the way with wanting young knees. But, oh, the kids!

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  6. derrickjknight

    You are right about the family. As someone who spent many years working with families to help them help themselves, and has seen the emphasis over the last 30 years shifting to punitive, economically driven, attitudes, such that Jackie, as a social worker was told that spending time with clients was a “waste of resources”, I find it all very depressing

    1. quercuscommunity

      I can see how you find it depressing after spending a lifetime working to make things better. It must have been an eye-opener for Jackie to be told about wasting resources. The logical conclusion, I suppose, is that you will be better thought of by management if you just don’t bother with clients…

  7. arlingwoman

    I think the best part of youth programs is probably when a kid clicks with someone who cares and is able to get or stay on track. Yes, parents matter. And I agree with you that the ones working too many hours to stay out of the house (rather than to put food on the table) are just about as bad as the ones who just slough of all responsibility. Both of them leave scars. I grew up in a little town that ranged from dirt poor to upper middle class. Dads came home from work and were around to play catch, go fishing, or engage in whatever activities kids wanted. When I went to graduate school at a private college where most students had received a much more expensive education than I had, I was amazed at how many of them were furious with their fathers (whose money was financing the expensive education). I’d never seen it before–but it was about time, which is what always made me laugh about that ridiculous expression “quality time.” Kids don’t need quality time. They need you around–in quantity. Wow. Was that a rant?


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