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Carol Hoenig

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A Tough Job

Posted: 12/06/06 01:54 PM ET

Monday, Papa Bush broke down at the podium when speaking of his sons. Recently, on CNN Headlines, Martin Sheen was doing damage control for Charlie and his acrimonious divorce proceedings. And today it was reported that a mother in South Carolina had her twelve-year old son arrested for opening a Christmas present early. In a different vein, Mary Cheney and her partner Heather Poe will become parents in late spring and are ecstatic. I wish them well. Sometimes, though, I think we tend to forget that these small creatures who start out manipulating our heartstrings by wiggling and cooing grow up to argue and challenge and sometimes disappoint us, and we them.

Needless to say, I have no idea how former President George H.W. Bush and Barbara raised their children, but when some mother in South Carolina forfeits her authority to two policemen by having them arrest her pre-teen son, I'd say parental skills are lacking. It's not a secret that raising children takes work and effort, not to mention discipline. I'm not talking about the "spare-the-rod-spoil-the-child" discipline our parents incorporated, but the kind of discipline that relies on fortitude and emotional investment. According to today's article, it seems as though this twelve-year old has been a handful for quite some time. I won't get into whether or not his twenty-seven year old mother should have considered other options back when she was a pregnant fifteen year old, but I will say that just because someone can have a child doesn't mean that they should.

Parenting is a tough and oftentimes thankless job and it isn't until our children are young men and women that we look back and realize our mistakes; because there will be mistakes. However, sometimes these mistakes have a ripple effect and hurt society to varying degrees. Not sure if Papa Bush's emotions were actually for one son's supposed triumphs or another son's serious failures, but carrying the burden that his son may have made drastic misjudgments by bringing the country into a debilitating war could bring anyone to tears.

Certainly, the Bush children were entitled. That, too, can be said for Hollywood children, like Charlie Sheen. However, entitlement shouldn't mean that children couldn't grow up to be responsible, considerate citizens. And many are because their parents took the time to actually, well, parent.

But what about that twelve-year old boy in South Carolina? He obviously is in a home that is drastically different from the homes of the aforementioned. Clearly, he is not living in an insulated world of privilege. For him, opening the Christmas present early was more inviting and possible punishment less of a concern. The problem is that when the mother called the police to arrest her son she was relinquishing her right as a parent. In other words, she was absolving responsibility. It seems silly when it's about a Nintendo game, but should she wait for something bigger? I think not. There should be accountability, whether opening a game early or taking a country into war without just cause.

Sure, children are a hope for the future, but we must be willing to be totally invested as parents, or the future will be rather grim. My hope is that Cheney and Poe have seriously taken that into consideration.

 

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