There is no one solution to this problem. In a fantasy world, we would mandate that every child finish high school and get some sort of higher education after high school. We would teach boys and girls to focus on their careers, and tutor them as well as their parents if they began falling behind. We would mandate every parent to get an education prior to bringing another baby into the world. But we don’t live in a fantasy world; this complicated problem will require many experts to become involved. As an expert in relationships, I think it all goes back to the parents. Parents have to be parents again. We need to quit thinking the government is more responsible than we are, and we need to quit relying on the government to give us stuff, and begin working toward the betterment of our own lives and the lives of our children. Below are a few suggestions that can begin to help turn the next generation around:
1. Before you ever have a child, have a secure relationship. Do not have a child in a co-habitation lifestyle. No one benefits.
2. Before you marry, get pre-marital counseling. It is more worth your money than anything I can think of.
3. If you are married and have no money, take a few classes at a time (there is free money out there, but you have to talk to the institution about eligibility). Education is the liberator of your situation. Don’t waste your time begging, stealing, or blaming. Put that energy into reading, learning, and writing.
4. If you grew up with abuse, and you are using that as a reason why you cannot go to school or do better as an adult, it is not going to help you. Abuse is wrong and tragic, and I am sorry it happened, but you don’t need to repeat that cycle. It takes strength, but so does feeling bad all the time and continuing the pain of abuse on to your children.
5. If your child is having trouble in school, listen to what the teacher says and be willing to work with them. Your child may be the one that breaks the cycle…but they cannot break it without your help and encouragement.
I grew up in a poor family, but poor doesn’t have to mean uneducated. My mother was a teacher and when I was discouraged with what I didn’t have as compared to others, she told me that. I watched both my mother and father work hard, get taken advantage of, and work harder. Their work was a form of prayer for them, and I believe that is how they survived. They did not blame; they felt lucky to be an American. There were problems then, there are problems now, but if we aren’t all part of the solution, we are part of the problem. Taking the time to encourage a kid’s work ethic, or inspiring them through your work with a church, school, or scout program goes a long way in being part of the solution. –Mary Jo Rapini