Parenting, outsourced

For help in child-rearing, dialing 911 is the wrong call

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A Florida woman earlier this year called 911 and asked police to “come out and scare the (bleep) out of my kids.”

She may have gotten her wish, though not how she might’ve expected. Officers found her drunk and disorderly and arrested her.

As for the kids she couldn’t handle? They were ages 3 and 1.

In the end, the woman “probably did enough to scare her kids all by herself,” one news report observed.

It’s another sign of the times: With the implosion of both the nuclear family and the extended family that used to inform it with parenting skills – and with many of today’s child-producers being selfish, lazy, substance-abusing louts – parents sometimes turn to law enforcement authorities to outsource basic parenting skills.

It’s easy to call 911. It’s not so effortless to actually take the time and care to parent worth a darn.

The Chronicle’s Bianca Cain Johnson recently explored that phenomenon locally, finding out that it’s not uncommon for Augusta parents to call on police to try to scare their kids straight.

The Richmond County Sheriff’s Office is dutifully willing to go along with them to try to serve the public and help out – and, as in the Florida case, officers occasionally find problematic parenting that cries out for intervention. But officers don’t recommend the practice, and neither should anyone else. It may work from time to time, but likely more often it demonizes law enforcement in young, impressionable minds and lets a poorly equipped parent off the hook.

There are instances in which an outmanned mother may actually fear her child. By all means, call police.

But don’t use Richmond County taxpayers as a surrogate parent.

If your Day-to-Day Parents’ Toolbox is so empty that your only answer is to call 911 for some armed intervention, then the problem isn’t your child. It’s you.

Before you dial 911, try 211 – the local social service helpline operated by the United Way of the CSRA. A 211 operator can fix you up with parent skills classes, parent counseling services and even parent support groups.

There are parent-and-child activity groups, swimming lessons, parent/family educational involvement programs, books and other materials on child rearing – all available by simply dialing 211 on your phone.

In addition, if there are any underlying stressors affecting your ability to parent – or just your peace of mind – 211 is the gateway to social services providing assistance with money, food and relationship issues.

“There’s a variety of different things they can call about,” a 211 operator told us.

And if the problem has gone beyond your capacity to handle it, most jurisdictions offer “scared straight” sorts of programs, often through the sheriff’s department, that familiarize troubled youths with jails and other consequences of antisocial behavior.

The keys to not getting to that point are:

• set a good example yourself

• set reasonable but firm expectations for behavior early in a child’s life and stick to them

• understand that as the adult guardian of the television, the Internet, the pantry, and the locks on all the doors, you have leverage that can be couched in “promises” rather than “threats”

• even when disciplining or punishing children, there’s no reason to treat them with disrespect; in fact, they’ll respond better to tough love than mere toughness

• take the time to learn parenting tips from experts and other parents

Above all, see the big picture. Those little creatures you agreed to feed, clothe, shelter and mentor aren’t yours; they’re on loan from heaven. And they’ll only be with you a fleeting while. Enjoy them while you can, and know that the tough moments will surely pass.

Before you call on the police, call on yourself.

They didn’t sign up to parent your kids. You did.

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t3bledsoe 09/09/13 - 12:51 pm
Willow Bailey @ 12:41

"Government is never the answer and most often the problem to begin with"

You said that right!!

Willow Bailey
Willow Bailey 09/09/13 - 12:58 pm
Instinctive to what?

t3, following one's own instincts parenting can BE the problem.
We aren't born knowing how to be good parents or good "any things" for that matter.

People parent from several perspectives: How they were parented - How they wish they had been parented - How they have been educated to parent - And a combination thereof

Little Lamb
Little Lamb 09/09/13 - 12:59 pm
It Takes A Village

Riverman's well-written comment at 10:8 a.m. is spot on.

When one takes Hillary's It Takes a Village to Raise a Child mantra to heart, it doesn't take long for the village idiot to call 911 to request intervention when her two-year-old throws a temper tantrum.

Willow Bailey
Willow Bailey 09/09/13 - 01:16 pm
I believe in INVESTING

in our people; teaching them to fish, instead of fishing for them. I'm for that kind of government assistance and that kind of community and church assistance.

Our government can't make good and healthy decisions as long as they cater to the "vote" for their own wealth and power by setting up programs that disable, divide and destroy our families. Voters can't vote in good stewards of government as long as we only vote "our pocketbooks". We have to learn to choose the things that have eternal value and pass good things on to our next generation.

Our problems are huge and we didn't get here overnight. We have a long haul to turn this country and our own lives around, if we start TODAY.

Willow Bailey
Willow Bailey 09/09/13 - 01:36 pm
And better a call to 911 for

And better a call to 911 for assistance or direction, than one to the coroner and the funeral home.

We will never get anywhere coming up with the answers until we know the questions.

Darby 09/09/13 - 09:11 pm
"Just maybe there was enough compassion in

Washington to do something to stop this terrible violence between the races?"

And just what do you think that "something" might be bledsoe? When you look at the big picture, there is almost no "violence between the races".

On the other hand, when you see what government "benevolence" has done to the black psyche, the psychological violence is staggering.

More blacks on welfare than ever before? More black on black crime than ever before? Higher than ever black unemployment than ever before?

What "something" has OzBama done? What has he accomplished? Other than to perpetuate black poverty?

You aren't stupid, bledsoe. Try really examining the facts. Be honest with yourself and you might just be salvageable.

Darby 09/09/13 - 09:20 pm
I'm not nearly as concerned about parents

calling 911 about their kids (As dumb as that is.) as I am with those fools who call to report that McDonalds left the cheese off their Egg McMuffin.

Or the junkie who asked that cops arrest his dealer because he sold him low grade cocaine.

Color me conservative if I can't help thinking that both calls were made on OzBama phones. (No matter what race the caller may have been.)

deestafford 09/09/13 - 11:44 pm
We sometimes forget just how ignorant and out of touch

"those in Washington" really are. They are like blow flies flitering from one pile of crap to another laying maggot eggs that fester into good intentions of unintended consequences. For the most part those people live in a bubble of incestuous knowledge and many of the representatives and senators are played by their staffers like a cheap violin.

Some of these elected folks are stupid elected by stupidier people.

Let's don't let them get more involved in our lives than they hone in. We can solve our problems much closer to home because we live here and understand our problems better than some bubble-residing overpaid peon in DC.

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