All right parents, who thinks they need to take parenting classes? Wait, scratch that. Better question: who has free time to go take parenting classes? Four parenting classes to be exact? Parents in one part of the US might be forced to find the time ... or their kids will fail the sixth grade!
Yup, that's right, a bill on the floor of the legislature in one of the country's largest states threatens to hold children back in school if their parents don't take four state-mandated parenting classes.
As if life isn't hard enough for parents ... and kids?
The bill sponsored by New York State Sen. Ruben Diaz Sr., an evangelical minister, would require parents to take courses on topics such as sexual orientation, bullying and suicide, and physical, emotional, and sexual abuse. At heart, none of that sounds terrible. The more education parents have about these topics, the better off they -- and their kids -- will be.
But, and this is a BIG but, good parents are already going to be trying to brush up on that, aren't they? I know I certainly pay attention to all the research on those topics, and although I don't have time -- as a working mom -- to actually sign up for a parenting class (forget four of 'em!), I know that if something came up with my kid, I would reach out for help to the proper resources.
That's what involved, caring parents do. We don't need a law to make us care about our kids. All this would do is give us another headache to take care of (the bill requires employers give one day off for these classes -- but fat chance that would cover all the time needed).
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But far worse than that is what it would do to all the kids out there who are already struggling with crappy parents. These are the people this law is likely aimed at ... and the types of people who likely would shirk their duty, law or no law. And then what? Their kids would be held back in the sixth grade, banned from seventh grade?
Because it isn't hard enough for them at home? Now the school has to punish them for being born to people who don't care enough to make their children their priority?
Way to go, lawmakers! Pass this bill into law, and you're telling kids who are already dealing with crappy home lives that they can never get past their parents' mistakes to make something of themselves. Heck, you'll be stuck in sixth grade forever because your Mom is a crack head who can't rouse herself from the couch long enough to attend a parenting class, so you might as well just drop out of school now!
Think I'm overreacting?
Sadly, I'm not. Kids with neglectful parents are already at risk for dropping out of school and much more hardship in life.
Lawmakers should be bending over backward to make school life easier on these kids, not harder! Their best chances at success come, after all, from schools that give them what they're not getting at home -- encouragement, compassion, confidence.
Here's hoping this bill fails ... and that failure sends a message to lawmakers across the country that we need to STOP punishing kids for having crappy parents!
What do you think of this proposal? Should the state have a say in whether parents take classes?
Image via dcjohn/Flickr