Parent Up: Standing Up for Your Child

by Kim Crouch

I’m certain I’m not the only one frustrated or who has encountered this but what is going on with some parents in our community? I mean when did parenting become a burden? I was the keynote speaker at an event this past weekend for a local organization and talking about the power of parental advocacy and how parents are their child’s greatest advocate.

After the event, a 14 year old girl came up to me and asked me if I could help her get back in school. It seems she got expelled from school in January for fighting. She didn’t have a knife or any weapon but in this day of zero tolerance this was her 3rd fight and it led to her expulsion. I was a bit surprised that she had asked because I wondered why t his was something her parents weren’t trying to do.

However, I learned her mom was a single mom and her mom just wasn’t willing to do it. Since the girl really seemed to want to get back into school, I decided to help. I called her mom who informed me that this was her daughter’s problem. In her words: she got put out, she needs to find a way to get back in if she wants to go. I’m leaving it up to her this is her life.

I couldn’t believe any reasonable and responsible parent would say this. What shocked me further was the battle I found from the school itself. Although I wasn’t this child’s parent, I convinced the principal to talk to me about re-enrolling the child. A friend of a friend knew the principal. I talked to the principal, who said the child had written her a letter and asked if she could come back to school. (Note what child would do this if they didn’t care about their future). The principal said she told her no because the school had limited resources and the bottom line is the child had 3 fights that year and they just didn’t have the time to deal with children who were disruptive.

I understand the principal’s concerns but we need to think very carefully before making it too hard for a child to get back on track. After all, this child never brought a weapon to school and as far as I could see didn’t pose a danger to any students. To make a long story short, I was finally able to convince the principal to allow the child to reenroll in the school.

But after spending a week dealing with an uninvolved parent and a school system that was more than happy to kick the child to the curb, it re-enforced my belief about the role of parental advocacy. It’s a shame that in many ways whether a child succeeds has a lot to do with whether their parents or some adult is vested in them, their success and their future. I didn’t know this girl at all but in one week I had spent more time fighting for her future than her mom or the school system: both of which seemed very willing to throw her away.

As a parent and someone who speaks to parents across this country, my greatest advice has to be get involved in the life of a child. We have to do what we can to protect all our children and not only the ones who get good grades but even those who are D and F students and find themselves in the gray areas of life. And for goodness sake, we need parents to Parent Up.

What do I mean by Parent Up? Our parents need to step up their parenting game- plain and simple. If you do your role as a parent to the best of your ability, there still exists a chance your child may not succeed. If you do less than your best- guess what? Your child’s chance for success drop dramatically.

So I say Parent Up- do your part. Doesn’t matter if you are a single parent, married couple, grandparent, aunt, uncle, whatever…..Parent Up. If you are responsible for a child- take control of the situation, quit complaining about how hard it is and just do your best and definitely do NOT give up on them. If, after doing your best in the parenting situation, you still end up with a bad seed, you know you did your best and it wasn’t your fault. If you end up with a dud and you didn’t do all you should have done- you can be pretty sure it’s probably your fault!! Sorry if this is harsh but it’s also harsh to say to a 14 year old I don’t care if you succeed or not.

Kim Crouch is an attorney and the author of the book Mother To Son: Words of Wisdom, Hope and Inspiration for Today’s Young African-American Men.

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