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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Who is to Blame?

More than 40 million people live in poverty in the U.S.; that is a larger number than the total population of Canada or Argentina. More than 7.5 million people live together without being married, a figure that by definition must be unreliable for obvious reasons. The total of unmarried couples, including same sex, is closer to 10 million. More than 1 million children live with a divorced parent, almost 2% of all minors in the U.S. There are more than 14 million single parents raising approximately 28 million children. Considering a total population of around 320 million in our country, these bleak numbers may not seem particularly alarming, until we start adding them up: More than 60 million households offer a deficient environment for their children where the lack of adequate food, love and affectionate discipline cause havoc among the younger generation.

Let's be even more pessimistic: In homes where food is abundant, where clothing is more than adequate and where shelter is comfortable, there is a silent enemy that no national census can detect. Abuse, whether verbal, physical or mental, destroys self-confidence and creates severe internal emotional conflicts. The result? An asocial young man or woman who will look for solace in all the wrong places.

Foster care could be an oxymoron! Even though the government reports more than 700,000 children placed in foster care in 2010, it fails to explain that many of these foster parents do it only for the money they receive for each child. Many do nothing else and provide mainly indifference and neglect until the child escapes or reaches his/her majority. Granted, some of these kids show a complex picture of emotional disorders and can be difficult to raise; but if you are not willing to do your part as a foster parent, keep away and don't compound the problem.

Our  society is not doing a good job of instilling solid values in children and teens; marriage rate is in decline, teen pregnancy is on the rise, as is teen drug addiction, and gang membership. If the parents are divorced - a quick look at the children of celebrities confirms the fact, the kids will more often than not end up in bad company looking for the acceptance they failed to receive at home. When the parents are poor - again statistics confirm the fact, their children may suffer neglect because of a mother and/or father using alcohol and drugs, or simply because there is nobody to welcome them when they get home after school.

Children are our most valuable treasure as a nation that claims to be a role model for the rest of the world. And yet we are falling behind in most areas related to education; we are not involving the parents sufficiently, knowing full well that schools by themselves cannot replace the love and care of a home. We are too busy making money, buying the latest gadget, or simply working overtime to go to the game to watch our kid who is waiting anxiously for the father to show up.

The family as society's nucleus has eroded constantly for the last 40 years; how many travel together like the Griswold family who, despite their comical misadventures, were a model of affection and support? How many still participate in a family council (as a single mother of six told me recently) in order to air common grievances or positive ideas? How many teens feel comfortable talking to their parents about their most intimate concerns?

Let's face it! A successful and powerful nation like the United States depends on the existence of strong and united families. It's time our politicians put an end to their childish squabbles and infamous behaviors to show our kids that we can overcome any obstacle.

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