Dysfunctional parenting: Are we really failing our youth?

“I don’t want my kids to grow up with no father like I did…I would like people to recognize in looking at my story that the person who has the most to do with what happens to you is you, it’s not the environment, it’s not the other people who were there trying to help you or trying to stop you. It’s what you decide to do and how much effort you put behind it.”

Dr. Ben Carson, renown American Neurosurgeon

Of major concern today, in this age of the “Me Generation,” is that many youth are now being raised in a Fatherless environment; becoming the “Fatherless Generation.”

Changing parenting roles in our society has given rise to a generation in which many of our youth are given little if no guidance by healthy parenting, resulting in our society suffering greatly; most particularly when many of our youth become teenagers and adults and become engaged in substance abuse, crime, and other forms of deviant behavior.

Today 34 percent of youth (24 million) live absent their biological father. Data from the Texas Department of Corrections tells us that 85 percent of inmates came from fatherless homes; and that percentage still holds true for youthful offenders.

The U.S. Department of health tells us that 63 percent of youth suicides are from fatherless homes. The Centers for Disease Control tell us that 85 percent of children who show behavior disorders come from a fatherless home.

The National Principles Association tells us that 71 percent of school dropouts come from fatherless homes. In fact, children who live absent their biological father are, on average, two to three times more to be poor, to use alcohol and other drug substances, to experience health, educational, emotional and behavioral problems, to be victims of child abuse, and to engage in criminal behavior more than their peers who live with married, biological (or adoptive) parents.

The results of being raised in a fatherless environment are most profound, yet they are solvable when healthy parenting comes into play.

I often was told by my many clients in counseling reasons why they were engaged in crime, substance abuse, etc., that “what do you expect, I came from a poor migrant family…I did not have a father around…I was abused and neglected…I was bullied in school…no one gave me anything that I needed,” etc. Working with them to face and overcome their problems, I found that they thought “outside themselves,” that they expected others to “fix them;” to solve their problems for them. It was only when they changed their thinking patterns that work could really begin on alleviating their problems…they had to stop living in the problems and begin to live in the solutions.

I, along with thousands of others who overcame problems on our life’s journey, serve as the exception to overcome the most difficult problems… to being raised in a fatherless home, being in migrant working settings, etc. We overcame because we utilized our intellect, not emotions; believed in a Higher Power, and sought out those individuals who provided us wise counsel. We did not have the “gimmees,” we believed in hard work and self-determination…we did not dwell on the negative but embraced the positive.

Examples of those reared in a fatherless home are most plentiful; going on with their life to become educators, scientists, famous aviators, even brain surgeons of renown.

Our youth today have more opportunities of previous generations, yet many have more problems. I firmly believe that with the increased opportunities presented to our youth we are lacking in providing them the necessary life-skills to deal with the realities of life. Many of our youth today, as a part and parcel of the “Me Generation,” the “Y Generation” if you will, expect to have all of their physical and psychological needs provided to them; even into adulthood; and many parents, and our government are quick to oblige…free cell phones, computers, backpacks, school supplies, food, automobiles, etc. without the young person having to earn them at all; and most importantly, to not have to take the consequences of inappropriate behaviors.

Our government and parents often believe that by doing so the person will not have any life problems, that they will overcome any adversities. Often our youth will take the “softer and easier” way of handling life problems, which very often leads to maladaptive and irresponsible behaviors.

I have always believed, and practiced in my own profession and life, that the answers to problems of our youth lies in prevention education; and most specifically education on parenting skills. Many parents today were themselves raised in a dysfunctional manner, and pass along the dysfunction to their children; never learning the skills so necessary in rearing a mentally healthy child; even turning over their responsibility to the grandparents or other relatives while they engage in “Me” type behaviors….they need to take responsibility themselves, not lay it off on their families or the school system to do so.

Training for parenting is always available in our communities, and I always encourage parents to take advantage of it. Healthy parenting needs to begin at a very young age, not when problems begin to arise…prevention is the key. The Partnership At Drug Free parenting program gives us 6 steps to help reduce the chance your child will develop drug, alcohol, or other problems. The steps, very traditionally, and proven are:

1) build a warm and supportive relationship with your child. 2) be a good role model when it comes to drinking, taking medicine, and handling stress. 3) know you child’s risk level. 4) know your child’s friends. 5) monitor, supervise, and set boundaries for your child. 6) have ongoing conversations and provide them information about drugs and alcohol, and other problems that they may face.

One of the best packages I have ever seen, and used, on parenting skill building comes from The Partnership At Drug Free.org. One only need go to their web site for a brochure, and I strongly encourage parents to do so.

No my friends, being reared in a fatherless home is not an excuse for inappropriate behaviors. Living within the problems only creates more problems. We must all live in the solutions. Until next time, Stay Healthy My Friends!