Friday, December 19, 2008

Violence close to home

I have been thinking a lot lately about the rights of children, the rights of families, the rights of parents. I see so much in my job and being pulled into a recent court case that had everything to do with families and nothing to do with being a landlord has heightened this.

So often I see really bad parenting. I mean profoundly shakes me to my core parenting problems. I am always stunned by it. Which I suppose is silly. I am far from new to this job and should have grown a thicker skin by this point. But I seem unable to really do that. I can crab sarcastically to trusted family and friends maybe sometimes, but mostly I really believe that if you give people a chance at something better that they will be both willing and able to grab that chance and make life different. Give themselves and their kids that better option. That is I guess the part of me that people label Pollyanna. I really want most for my kids to have a better life than I had. I hope to have learned to emulate and improve on the best of my experiences from my parents and to eliminate that which was the worst. What I see for many people though, is just a perpetuation of a cycle whether it is healthy or not. It is the norm, the known, it is what happens.

Today I read in the paper that one former resident really never will get that chance to try and improve. The fact that they are "former" resident speaks in part to their choices, if you read between the lines. The article that I read in the paper alleges that a minor in the family is alleged to have done something unimaginable to an older relative. While I always thought this was a deeply troubled individual I never saw anything like this coming. The act he allegedly participated in is so horrific that it is chilling to think about. I don't know if it is the age of the minor in question or the fact that i don't typically travel in circles where killing is a way of life, but I am really unable to wrap my mind around this. I think of my kids and how they interact with each other and I can't in my wildest dreams, picture anything like that happening. Even when KC comes to me and tearfully tells me that his big brothers are acting "fartish" (his word for being mean to him!) it is truly small potatos. It is sibling stuff. It isn't life or death stuff.

So that leads me to wondering what if anything can be done to try and heal really dysfunctional families. Obviously safe affordable housing isn't the cure. Having cool places for kids to spend their time isn't enough. We've got both of those bases covered. Yet increasingly I see parents who can't cope. I see children who have never had boundaries set unless it was by a gang. I try to be a resource for services but it is hard. It isn't really my job and I have to also be the tough guy who sets the boundaries, says thus and so can't happen here etc. That really interferes with being the person someone is comfortable going to if they need help, though there have been lots of occasions when I feel pretty confident that I have walked between both those worlds pretty well. But not this time.

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