Parents play an important role in assuring that a child is truly protected. This role is misunderstood by many people today who feel that the way to protect the rights of children is to establish policies that protect children from their parents. Although it is true that some parents need more support than others, it is also true that no one can or will be a better advocate for the child then the child's own parents.
No social worker, judge, foster, parent, etc. can take the place of a parent. They may want to, but they can't. Their load is too great. They cannot make the same commitment that a parent can and, even though they are sincere, the bottom line is that they are being paid for their services; they do not do what they do purely because they love the child.
Yes, there are parents who harm their children. I am glad the system is there to protect the child when parents are abusive. But most parent who physically or emotionally abuse their children do so out of ignorance and frustration. It is my belief that the majorities of parents truly love their children and do not set out to intentionally harm them.
Yes, some children misbehave or make unwise decisions that can try the patience of Job. Children who misbehave are difficult to help but the challenge is, not to take over the parent's role when problems occur, but to help parents do the best job they can.
Yes, there are incompetent parents out there. But helping incompetent parents is much cheaper and the pay off in the future much better when a family can be strengthened rather than torn apart.
I feel that we all are responsible for helping each other perform a very difficult job, the job of parenting. I do not believe that feeling superior, judging, or taking over when children or parents are having problems is the answer. To me, the task for all of us in this community is to do what we can to support and help each other do what needs to be done. We need to help each other succeed at the difficult task of parenting in this day and age.
Enthroning the family and assisting each other means that we need to make a commitment to help each other. This may mean that, with the permission of the parent, we play the role of a second parent or significant other to a child who is trying to discover who they are. It may mean volunteering to be a Big Brother or Sister, Scout Master, Brownie Leader, Sunday School Teacher, 4H Leader, etc. It may mean that we will have to make our religious beliefs more practical and less philosophical.
We need to be concerned enough about each other to use government agencies very little and only when legal or social intervention seems to be the only way to truly help a child or family. Our churches, government agencies, law enforcement, businesses, families, etc. need to work together.
I have a hero. Her name is Mary Gilbert. She was a Protective Service Worker. It may be ironic, but didn't surprise anyone who knew her, that she was loved by even those families who had their children removed by the courts. She worked each day to make Coldwater a better place to live. She once said to me, "Understanding others and loving them, just like they are, doesn't cost anything, and sure makes living together easier." Let us all work to strengthen, love, and help each other so that our children will have the best community in the world to grow up in.