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Published: Saturday, 6/12/2010

Tough parenting is the key to stopping violence

BY ROSE RUSSELL
BLADE ASSOCIATE EDITOR

There was quite a response to my column last week about fatal shootings and how many of their victims are African-American males.

Some of the responses ranged from what-more-do-you-black-people-on-welfare-want to you-black-people-are-completely-out-of-control. It's always stunning how happy people are to believe that anomalies are the norm. Forget the plethora of success stories.

I'm amazed that my lament about this tremendous and senseless loss of life is viewed by some as an opportunity to release a tirade against me, along with thoughts on race that they've kept bottled up.

One e-mail said that I have all the answers to the questions I posed in my column. I asked why there is no outrage in Toledo about the number of young black males who are killing and being killed. "You more than anyone should know the answer to the questions posed in your [column]," the writer stated.

Though that's quite a statement of confidence, I don't have all the answers. And the answers I have wouldn't be readily accepted because they are simplistic.

On the day the column was published, there was a press conference in Queens, New York, by an organization called Mothers Against Guns Inc. Liz Bishop-Goldsmith, president of the group, had a 27-year-old godson who was shot and killed in Queens 27 years ago.

She wrote in an e-mail to me: "We held a press conference today asking our youth and young adults to put down the guns, and stop the drug and gang violence in our communities. Then I read your article and it bought tears to my eyes, as we share your thoughts.

"Where is the outrage in our communities about the 'black on black crime'? Sadly, every day our loved ones (mostly youth) are losing their lives to this nonsense, and unfortunately, the communities continue to turn a blind eye - until it hits home."

I don't want it to hit anyone else's home, which helps explain my concern about the lack of outrage.

Another woman called me at my office and left a message that almost pleaded for me to return her call to discuss the plight of black youths.

During our conversation, she described herself as an elderly white woman who has worked to help turn around the lives of black youth. She seemed honestly in turmoil about what to do. She asked me what should be done to stop the killing.

I agree with MAG that elected officials should be told of our concern about the epidemic of gun violence. Too many politicians fear the National Rifle Association. Some of them, though, might have the fortitude to develop a solution.

My answers are probably not what anybody wants to hear: Parenting is a key component. As I told a reader, tough parenting, sacrificial parenting, helicopter parenting, involved parenting, dedicated parenting, intense parenting are the answers.

You are not your children's friends, but their parents. Act like it.

You must do for your children when you prefer to do for yourselves. I'm not talking about giving them stuff, but giving them time when you'd rather relax.

Stay on them. All the time. My daughters will tell you that the U.S. Constitution did not apply in our home. Their constitution was what Dad and Mom said. Know who your children's friends are, where they go, whom they talk with and text.

Go to parent-teacher conferences. Show up at school functions. Drag them to worship services. Teach them morals, for goodness sake.

So what if you're tired after a long day at work? If your children need help with homework, help them. It's your business to see why they don't have homework if they take none home.

Parenting is all the time. Don't turn your children loose at 18 or 21. Keep guiding, instructing, directing, and chastising them. They will thank you for it.

If you don't do this, somebody else will do so, happily. That person could have the wrong principles, the wrong friends, and drugs and guns.

The answer is easy. Applying it is tough.

Rose Russell is a Blade associate editor.

Contact her at:

rrussell@theblade.com



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