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Parents Today: Friend Or Foe by Delayne Whiteside


In the year 2000 the world heard the King of Comedy Bernie Mac (RIP) called us a bunch of  “punk ass parents” and “I will f**k your kid up!” In a comedic way, Bernie walks us through the breakdown and emotion disturbance of the children he had to adopt because their mother was on drugs. Just think of that year for a minute. The crack era aka war on drugs epidemic was about 15 years old, Hip Hop was 27 years old and under Bill Clinton, money was flowing in the african american community for a good eight years. On the other side of the tracks, their children were products of the “Yuppie” / Reaganomics generation, full of privilege and Wall Street riding high off technology and cocaine. As the times changed, so did the traditions. America’s lustful ambition found more children at home with little parental supervision which birthed the “latchkey” kid. The parental style of the 80’s was not that of the 50’s and 60’s i.e. Leave It To Beaver. The particular parents I speak of were liberated, and did not want to live the life of their parents or grandparents. Children of the 80’s and 90’s received a lot of their rearing from investing hours in front of the television watching music videos and playing video games. Add that with the fact that parents just stopped spanking their kids, whether it was because they feared the law, or just didn’t like it when they were children, hence you have The Birth of A New Nation.

Children born in the mid 90’s up until now we like to call “The Entitled” generation. Why wouldn’t they be? 1995 introduced the globe to the World Wide Web, which placed any information you needed at your fingertips. This meant that kids could figure out things much faster than generations prior including laws that protect them. These laws came to surface around the early 80’s when America began to take paddling out of schools. (They took prayer long before that, but that is a whole different story) From that point they further extended these laws to change child rearing at home. You had a number of Child Psychologist explaining why it was unhealthy to spank your child. After seeing images of abused children on talk shows and nightly news, the public at large witnessed a number of parents going to jail or being sued by their own children for child abuse. In certain areas of the country, your child could be taken away and placed in foster care if abuse was proven.

As a result, this produced a new system where parents started actually reasoning with their children. (In some cases bargaining) Because of the massive time away from home spent chasing an above average lifestyle, you had a number of parents “buying” their children affection based on parental guilt. Too much time was spent working, so children had to receive their nutrition from McDonalds and Wendy’s or worse yet Microwave dinners. We pumped so many preservatives and sugars in our children, no wonder we have a number of young people in this world with attention disorders. The high rate of divorce was also a factor which left a number of children the product of broken homes and emotional baggage.

Over the years, the generation gaps have also become smaller. With new image consciousness about looking and feeling younger, you have a number of parents wearing the same clothes, listening to the same music, and hanging out at the same social establishments as their offspring. Parents have become their children’s “friend” or “buddy”. A number of parents take pride in being the “cool” parent. So how can you discipline your buddy?

It’s no wonder that you can walk into a supermarket and hear a debate going on with a child and their parent and you don’t know who is who? And before you say that only happens in the white community, think again. I’ve seen a number of AA children talk to their parents in a way that I could never dream of.

In my surveys with some parents that offer little discipline or the lack thereof, they feel a sense of guilt when they make their child sad. Overcompensation for a divorce or an absentee parent is another reason for the lack. They say things like, “they’ve already been through enough, I don’t want to add to that.” Some say they WANT the child to express themselves in a way they were never allowed to, that made them feel hopeless and powerless and they didn’t want to pass that feeling on to their kids. There are other parents that say  “My parents struggled very hard financially and I want to make sure my children never feel the pain of lack so I try to get them everything they want for the times I didn’t have” 

We’ve always heard the saying, “Two children can grow up in the same household, under the same parenting and one can grow up to be a doctor and the other may become a crackhead” When it comes to child rearing, my guess is it really is like a box of chocolates, you don’t know what you’re going to get. #WordToForestGump The question is how much is too much discipline and how little is not enough?

In recent news Social Media just saw Malia Obama that comes from a background of prestige shaking it up at Lollapalooza and had a field day with the memes, but we also see Kim Kardashian, Amber Rose and a number of reality stars that we feel set THE WORSE examples for their children. But here’s a thought. Their children may go on to be tomorrow’s leaders. You have Magic & Cookie Johnson, that embraced their son EJ in front of the world to show they love him for who he is. There are a number of examples of good and bad parenting.

At the end of the day, the game is survival and there is no cure all or one size fits all guide to parenting.  We can only be grateful that our children allow us to play this small part in their life until the world accepts them into the crazy jungle. Think before you judge how someone raises their child. If you’re a parent and you know you’ve done the best you can, there is no reason to beat yourself up. Love yourself and your family for today. Be grateful for that love. If you were a not so great parent, there is no need to CONTINUE to beat yourself up. Start from today, FORGIVE yourself and WAIT on their forgiveness. You can’t rush it, all you can do is continue to pray and LOVE until that pain goes away.





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