Think back to the last time that you heard a colleague in the helping profession say “parents just don’t care about their kids!” I heard this again recently and honestly am always a bit taken aback when this comment is made. I know is sounds naïve and dreamy to be surprised, but, as a policy and systems minded person I would have thought that those working with families would appreciate the systemic issues that families are facing. Systemic issues like inflexible work hours, reliance on public transport in a town that is not designed for public transport, health services that only offer services during business hours, lack of extra money for a co-pay, or illiteracy on health issues.
But then again, I am not working “in the trenches” anymore, so on the other hand, I think it would be so frustrating and disheartening to work so hard to fund and plan programming and then not have any families show up. I completely respect and value this work.
After almost 2 decades as a social worker, I still will not accept the “parents don’t care” narrative – we have to have hope and a fight for parents that are doing everything they can to do the right thing. All parents are trying their hardest – although “their hardest” varies. Parents who are not privileged to be born in the right zip code, with the right tone of skin, or without parents with an education are dealing with so much more that those of us with privilege. This is not to glaze over those who are in of need extra support because they are harming their children.
If we have the cynical view that parents don’t care and therefore are deliberately working to keep their children sick, out of school, alone at home after school, or hungry the world is truly bleak place.
What can YOU do to get results for kids? What can YOU to do to lend a helping hand to those who are in most need? What can WE do as a community to keep those who are in the helping profession take care of themselves so they can face another day of parents not showing up? These are not easy times – I wish there was a silver bullet sometimes to make the hard facts go away. It is up to each and every one of us.