Now there is a move in New York City to bribe bad parents. Mayor Michael Bloomberg has set up an anti-poverty initiative, financed by private donations, including his own, that would pay bad parents to do things that good parents do without thought.
For example, if a parent takes a child to the dentist for a checkup, that parent would get $100 for each kid the dentist sees.
If a parent secures a library card for the child, that warrants a $50 payment.
Attending parent-teacher conferences, another $50.
The program would also give money to kids who perform well in school.
Under Bloomberg's initial offering, 13,000 poor families would be eligible to get the cash, which could add up to $6,000 a year.
Is this really the level to which our society has descended? We now have to pay parents to be parents? Unfortunately, I don’t think this would make a bit of difference in my community. You can read about the parenting issues in my neck of the woods here. We have an abundance of mothers and fathers who have abdicated their roles as parents, but money will not motivate better behavior. Everywhere you look you see families who are materially wealthy but morally bankrupt. My daughter went on a school sponsored overnight trip. The one girl who had just received a jaguar for her birthday tried to steal the hotel pillows. Other girls on this trip loudly proclaimed it was too boring to have a boyfriend and not have a sexual relationship. Girls showed up to an awards banquet looking like they had put on their slips but forgotten to put their dresses on. The list of such examples is endless. How do the parents of these kids respond? They just give a sheepish grin, shake their heads, and say, “kids will be kids”.
Faced with this sort of parenting, it is understandable that schools try to fill the gap and provide formation in areas that have no business being taught in schools—sex education being the primary example. It becomes very frustrating for those of us who still act like parents to have to convince the school to let us do our jobs.
Much of this stems from the feminist movement that tried to convince us that taking care of children was somehow inferior to career success. Wanton consumerism tells us that two incomes are necessary for the lifestyle that we deserve. Being a parent is seen as creating the right image—the perfect Christmas card—rather than as a valuable lifetime vocation. Kids are just an acquisition—like the “right” car, or a house in the “right” neighborhood.
I don’t have any great answers. I can’t claim to be a perfect parent. I just know I am on my knees praying for the wisdom and guidance of the Holy Spirit to get me through the next parenting challenge. I am so grateful for the other parents who are kneeling alongside of me. I wish a few more would join us.