Wednesday, July 14, 2010

A Doctor Takes a Look at Bad Kids

Ghetto parenting? Ouch.

Apparently the Chicago Sun-Times writer Mary Mitchell who is African American has caught some flak for her recent article about poor parenting. “Ghetto Parenting Dooms Kids: Deck Stacked Against Those Who Were Raised in the Streets" describes horribly poor parenting such as leaving kids with neighbors so that you can go hang out on the street or cursing at or around kids, or brawling with your spouse. These behaviors are obviously not limited to the African American or the urban/ghetto community and for this perceived assumption, Mitchell has had some serious feedback and scorn. It makes common sense to most of us that this kind of parenting is likely to lead to unleashed kids with school troubles and ultimate failure.

I am intrigued that in the New York Times this week, Dr Richard Friedman wrote about good parenting that results-in spite of best efforts- in offspring who behave as "bad seeds." His article poignantly tells of his professional experience with a family whose son just turned out "badly" in spite of what seemed to be "good enough" parenting and a loving environment.

Even though Friedman's article is encouraging and expiating for the thousands of families who are pained by the antisocial, disruptive or even criminal behavior of family members, Mitchell's nearly simultaneous article reminds us of the balance of nature and nurture. In the end we must be humbled by our childrens' success as much as by their misfortune or mistakes. How we adapt, how we carry on, and how we keep our balance without punishing ourselves or renouncing our ongoing responsibilities to ourselves, our partners, and our other children is what really matters in the end.

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