Parenting is a job that no one can really understand until they are put in the position; as my mom says: “You’ll understand when you have your own kids”. So when it comes to parenting, who knows best? When caring for a newborn/toddler there are general tips and rules to follow, books to read, classes to take, but as children grow older, where are the tips? Who do you turn to for advice?
As I come to speak and get to know some parents of juvenile offenders, I often wonder how much influence home life, such as parenting, has on the behaviors of these young adults. Granted, all families that I have met through my journey all come from the same socioeconomic background – they all share that. Yet, what they also share is the heartbreak and anguish over their children and their decisions. How much can you really parent a child coming into his/her young adult age? I know that teenagers are known for their lack of compliance with their parent’s wishes. And when they have an extremely hard personality to work with, how much more can the parents do?
You are a parent of a juvenile offender. They are coming up on their 18th birthday and is still is getting caught up by police. What do you do? What can you possibly say to your child to have them understand that being an adult has its different set of consequences? Jail and prisons are not the easy camps they go through as children; it’s a different atmosphere, different set of rules.
- Become an over-bearing parent? Monitor their every move, set a stricter curfew, restrict who they are able to hang out with?
- Become an easier, more laid-back parent? Let them “learn from their mistakes”, “whatever happens, happens”?
- Balance the line between? Take care of them as much as you can until you cannot any longer?
If you think of these options [not the only ones, but have been the most standard options] there are clear pros and cons to each bullet point. What is a parent to do, especially when you do not have enough resources to support your family? As I have mentioned earlier, most of these families share the same lower socioeconomic class. When you can’t pay the bills of the house, have hardly enough food for the family, how can a parent post bail for their child? Or just have enough energy, time, and effort to look after them as much as they’d have to?
After reading this, just think of your parents and all that they have done for you. A simple, random ‘thank you’ will leave a smile on their heart :]