Where have all the Parents Gone?

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Where have all the Parents Gone?

Please be patient with me as you read the following, and keep in mind that my words come from the heart. If anyone gets offended, I should probably apologize but I am not going to. When I started this project, I vowed to always speak boldly off the record, and this is something that needs to be said. Or rather asked.

Where have all the parents gone?

My words come from 24 years of being a parent to your kids when you are not around.
24 years of frustration in seeing kids desperately seeking love and guidance. And not finding it at home.

I do not have any children. Sometimes I ask God why that happened. Other times I am almost thankful that it did not happen.

My brother Mark on the other hand, is the proud father of two beautiful daughters. One just entered one of the most challenging stages in her life. High School.

I remember back when I went to high school. What was different then as compared to now, is attitude. School was fun back then. Most the time I actually looked forward to going. You are not really thinking a whole lot about the future then, but I was encouraged to do well by parents and teachers who did not expect me to Be the Best, but to always try and Do my Best.

The difference now is attitude!

I frequently get dispatched to group fight after group fight when the local high school lets out.
Fights that started over one kid looking at another kid the wrong way.
Fights that involve the use of guns and knives.
Fights that involve one kid wearing red and one kid wearing blue.
I arrive at a fight call and the attitude I get from these kids is appalling.
They spit on the ground at my feet (the universal sign of disrespect towards cops),
They walk or run away from me while yelling obscenities,
And they display the most defiant demeanor I have ever seen.
Where is all this anger and hostility coming from? I grew up in a rough city, but my mom and Dad always taught me to treat the Police with respect. I knew that if I did not do anything wrong, I never had a reason to fear the cops. After all, the cops were there to keep us safe. Why would I show disrespect to someone who was there to keep me safe?

Years ago, my mom would always make cookies at Christmas time for the local police and fire department. (She still does it to this day) My parents would always take Mark and I to go with them to drop them off, and she always MADE us take them in.

When we were really little, it was cool. The cops were really impressive in their uniforms and the firefighters let us sit inside the firetrucks. In junior high school I was thinking that I was pretty cool. Too cool to be doing this Santa thing at the police department but, it made Mom happy after going to all that trouble.

I remember feeling a little self-conscious, but wow, all these cops who were inside the station always came out to personally thank us and it seemed like they really appreciated the thought. They did not make me feel like a dumb little kid. They made me feel like it really mattered to them that we appreciated their efforts. They asked us where we lived, and they always made a point to drive by and wave on a regular basis.

Hey, do not get the wrong idea here. I was not some little cop groupie. I had no plans to even be a cop until I was 27 years old. It had everything to do with respect. My parents taught me to respect those who took an oath in life to protect us.

I have had my turns screwing up in life. I remember going to the senior ball and scoring a couple bottles of champagne that I had kept on ice in the back of my car. After the dance was over my girlfriend and I drove out to a secluded area overlooking a lake and met a few other friends.
I remember a bright flashlight being directed in my eyes and my first thought was
I am in deep – now. Two officers from the local park police had seen vehicles parked in an area closed to the public, and they had walked in on foot to sneak up on us.

I was respectful and honest while answering their questions. They found my champagne and made sure that I had not been drinking (yet). They called my parents, and my girlfriends’ parents, to see if they knew where we were at. Of course, they did not. But I could tell by the cop’s conversation what my dad had asked. No Mr. Lambert, he has not caused any problems, he’s been very cooperative.

The Cop looked at me, shook his head and smiled. Jim, your dad says you have 30 minutes to drop Sharon off and get home or it’s going to be the worst night of your life.

And by the way, when you drop off Sharon, when you see her dad, it probably will be the worst night of your life!

The cop made me pour out the champagne and said the infamous you are free to go.
I asked him, that’s it, I am free to go. The smile faded a bit as the cop told me that if he ever caught me in a similar circumstance in the future the outcome would be entirely different and not to my liking.

I could have been cited for a minor in possession of alcohol.
I could have been cited or arrested for trespass.
I could have had my license suspended.
I could have had my car towed.

But the officer had appreciated my honesty and respect. I did not try to lie my way out of it. I did not spit on the ground at the cops’ feet. I did not use profanity towards him. I did not have attitude. I just went with the flow and figured I’d take the rap for what I had done. It was wrong. And it was no one’s fault but my own.

But the course of following what my mom and Dad had always taught me, being respect to others and taking responsibility for my own actions, led to me getting one of the biggest breaks I can remember from my teenage years.

That cop had done his job.

He made sure that I ha not been drinking and that I was not a danger to other motorists on the roadways or to ourselves.

He had let our parents know what we had been up to so that they could handle it appropriately.
And he had acted in a professional manner and had treated me with respect.
To this day I remember that night when I stop kids in similar situations.
I can make a good kid hate me, or I can make a bad kid hate me.

I will stick with making bad kids hate me. They do not get any breaks. Spit at my feet, and I will spit back by making that arrest for trespass and towing your car. Call me every name in the book and I will find just as many violations in the vehicle code to set your wallet way back! Act like a disrespectful punk trying to be a big shot in front of your friends and I will make you look like the biggest class clown in history!

On the other hand, show a little class, take some responsibility for your actions, accept the phone call to Mom and Dad, and realize that the cop is there to ensure your safety, not wreck your night. You might get the break I got way back then.

However, a main ingredient in my situation, was caring parents who ensured that they would handle the matter at home. Caring parents, not overprotective parents.
I am still amazed by the parents who do not care where their kids are at or what they have done wrong. Many times, they blame us and threaten us with lawsuits.

No concern.

No surprise.

No shock that a cop is calling at 3 in the morning wondering if you know where your 16-year-old daughter is at. You did not know she was with a 19-year-old with a bottle of vodka and a box of condoms?

No questions. Except for the one that makes me want to haul your rear to jail!
Is she under arrest?
Where is she?
And what right do you have to search their car? Do you have a warrant? I want your badge number; my lawyer is going to hear about this!

Or how about:

Me: Mrs. Smith, I need you to come out to where we are at so you can pick your son up. He’s been drinking beer and I have to release him to you.

Mrs. Smith: Can’t you just let him drive home? I have to get up for work tomorrow. They were just out having fun. Just tell him to lock the car and to walk home. It’s not like he just killed somebody, he just had a little to drink.

Me: Mrs. Smith, it’s 3 am and your kid is 10 miles away from your home. I need you to come and get him. I am not going to let an intoxicated juvenile walk home at 3am. I cannot understand your lack of concern here.

Mrs. Smith: Now you are calling me a bad parent? Why can’t you just bring him home? That’s your job, isn’t it? I have to get up early for work tomorrow. Why are you making such a big thing out of this officer? Weren’t you young once?

Yes, I was young once, but I had responsible parents looking out for me you lazy pathetic irresponsible moron who should not be a parent! (I said in my head)

I have to argue with you to come get your kid that just blew a .13 on my alcohol tester.
A 16-year-old kid that should be home in bed for school tomorrow!
A 16-year-old kid who hears me arguing with you on my cell phone and laughs in my face because he knows you are not going to do anything about this.

You will not do anything about it until I knock on your door one morning to notify you that your son Billy was killed in an automobile accident involving alcohol. And even then, you will blame me, or someone else.

Your kids need your support and love. NOW, not LATER.

One of the best sayings I have heard is:
The teenage years are too late to start parenting!
Start early. Start young. Start at that, I took cookies to the police department age!

What is a 6-year-old kid doing walking home from school along a busy street by himself? Crossing busy railroad tracks without supervision. Whatever happened to you being there after school to be with your kid. To see how his or her day went. To let them know you care. Do you know how easy a target this child is to the criminal predator? No, you do not, or he wouldn’t be out here all alone!

Two more youngsters walking home from school along busy streets. These kids are too young to be out here alone. When you get the news that your 5-year-old was hit by a bus after running out in front of it, will you blame the 8-year-old brother who was supposed to watch him? Hello!!!! You are the parents here. Where the hell are you?

These young children turn out to be the ones walking down the street with an Attitude.
Looking for trouble wherever they can find it. Their family becomes their friends because they have no family at home. No love. No support. No Guidance.

Where have all the parents gone?

I live on a big boat on a beautiful river. Behind my big boat, I have a smaller jet boat that I use for cruising around the delta when I feel like going 45mph instead of 12mph. The other day I was taking my dog Gilligan out to his favorite beach in the jet boat. We passed 3 little kids no more than 8 or 9 who were swimming out to the channel buoy.  A channel buoy located in the middle of the boating channel! I looked at Gilligan and wondered why my Mutt from the dog pound was wearing a life vest, and why these children were not wearing any!

I was the one looking out for Gilligan in case anything happened to him. No one was watching these kids in case something happened to them. What is up with that?

A river with a strong current.
A river with no visibility. We are not talking the crystal-clear waters of Hawaii here.
A river with no lifeguards.

What happens when one of the kids gets fatigued swimming against the current and disappears under the water?

What happens when a drunk boater blast through the 5 mile per hour marker and runs over these kids with a propeller spinning at 4500 rpms?

Where have all the parents gone?

Why does this bother me? Two weeks ago, a family had a get together along this very same river. A 7-year-old drowned while swimming along the shoreline. He did not know how to swim. He lost his footing and slipped into water that was over his head.

In an instant he was gone.

In less than a minute, a family picnic turned into a panic when they noticed he was gone.
In less than a minute, that boy breathed his last breath in dark murky water.

Where have all the parents gone?

You have a responsibility to be there for your kids!
You have a responsibility to make sure that they are safe from the dangers of the world!
You have a responsibility to help prevent the cops from having to do your job!
You have a responsibility, in making your kids know that they have to be responsible themselves. To take responsibilities for their own actions. To know the difference between right and wrong.

You have a responsibility to give your kids the love they need. Not $500.00 to keep themselves amused while you and your wife leave and go away on business or vacation through the weekend.
You wonder why your house got thrashed after your kids had a beer party at the house and a fight broke out. Stains on the carpet, broken furniture, cigarette burn holes on the couch, missing personal items, and a kid in the hospital with a broken face.

I call you on the phone from your house and you have the nerve to ask me what I am doing in your house without a search warrant?

Gee, I am sorry sir, but 12 of your neighbors called in about the 100 kids over here unsupervised, who were smashing beer bottles in the street. Squealing tires in their cars, yelling profanity, smoking marijuana, loud music and then we got called here after a 15-year-old kid was beaten unconscious with a baseball bat in your backyard.

But hey, you are right on one point. I do not have a search warrant to be in your home right now. But I am kind of thinking that if you were home being a parent, then I would not have to be here!

Where have all the parents gone.

I do not care what you say to this. Behind every bad kid, there is a lack of parental supervision.
I have worked in affluent areas in my county where love is replaced by money and expensive gifts and cars. These kids have no respect for anyone and anything, and if they do something wrong, mommy and daddy’s lawyer will get them out of it. No responsibility. No parental support.

Where have all the parents gone?

I have worked in violent crime ridden areas in my county where mom and dad are gone all day just trying to make enough money to keep the utilities on. Sometimes working two jobs.

Areas where the kids have guns in their hands instead of cans of beer. I am talking 12-year-old kids here. I got into a vehicle pursuit one night of a stolen car. I radioed to dispatch and my back up units that the car was occupied by two subjects who were crouched down in the front seat. The pursuit lasted 3 blocks before the car lost control on a turn and spun out.

I jumped out of my car with my K-9 partner and prepared to unleash a 130lb Rottweiler on the two subjects who refused to sit up in the car. They could not sit up. There were already sitting up as high as they could. The driver was 12. The passenger was his 9-year-old cousin. They could barely see over the dashboard.

Where is your dad? I ain’t got no dad.
Where is you, Mom? She’s with her boyfriend.
Who’s her boyfriend? I dunno.
Where is her boyfriend live? I dunno.
Where are you supposed to be at right now? At home.
You are supposed to be home all by yourself? I always stay at home by myself.
Where did you get the gun? I do not have to tell you shit Cop; I know my rights.
Thats coming from the mouth of a 12-year-old.
No respect for anyone or anything!

I ask you again,

Where have all the parents gone?

To all the good responsible parents in the world who provide love and support to their kids, and who teach them right from wrong, To the kids who grow up in the world showing respect to others whether or not they learned it at home, To the parents who make their kids feel like their KIDS and FAMILY instead of roommates or burdens, To the parents who MAKE their kids take responsibility when they do wrong, we salute you with all our hearts.

We rarely have contact with you because you do a great job at home. Your efforts do not go unnoticed, and we are truly thankful for you.

To all the violent kids who are incarcerated in juvenile detention facilities across the United States, who would just as soon put a bullet in your head at an ATM machine than swing a baseball bat at a little league game, I have a question to ask you:

Where have all your parents gone?

The criminal justice system is not working. The kids get younger and younger. The violence gets worse and worse. The hatred gets stronger and stronger.
Why did my dad put the fear of God in me for having two bottles of champagne in my car on prom night, and in this day and age the parents want to sue me for illegal search and seizure?

Parental Liability.
Parental Responsibility.
Parental Love.
Parental Support.

How can you punish a kid for doing wrong, if he has not been taught right from wrong at home? Maybe, just maybe, it’s time to start holding two other people accountable!

My favorite saying: Every action has a reaction.

If you are a good parent, you will have great kids and reap the benefits.
If you are a bad parent, you will more than likely end up with 15 years of hell on your hands.
If you cannot swim, do not jump in the river. If a career means more than properly raising a family, do not have kids. If you do both, one has to be way more important than the other.

If you have not figured out which one that is yet, then maybe you are the one that can answer the question for me:

Where have all the parents gone?

5 COMMENTS

  1. Thanks so much for your honesty and bluntness. I’m a first year teacher, and I experience similar situations. My continual behavior problems are perfectly okay with a phone call home or serving detention or ISS. I wish parents could go to jail with their children in your situations and come to detention/ISS as well. Until parents are held responsible for their children, our society will continue to get worse. Why can’t there be a news story on this? Thanks again!

  2. Not only do appreciate your candor, I completely agree with you. My wife and I have spoken many times about this issue concerning society and the state of parenting today. I am a teacher and I have shared this blog with my students in the hopes that they will find some understanding of my frustrations with the world they inhabit. For every kid that crosses my path with “behavior” problems, I see problem parents behind them. I find it less than amusing or surprising that when we hold Parent/Teacher conferences, the parents I need to speak to the most are always absent. I am afraid to see what the world will look like when this generation takes over.

  3. You sir have it spot on. I am thinking the exact same thing. It is sad to say this, but I am glad we atleast have a few people like you still around.

  4. Thank you Mr. _____ for caring, and you are totally right on everything. It is sick how people treat police. It is sick how little parents care. I am 12 and would never dream of having such a cruel attitude. My parents would kill me if I ever spat at someone. I treat adults and my piers with respect no matter how much they insult me. What kids don’t remember it’s NOT cool to drink and drive, laugh at the little kid, yell the worse cuss words you can think of. None of that is impressive. Get some respect.

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