2017-10-11 / Voices of the People

Our teachers cannot do the jobs of the parents


I’ve seen and experienced many atrocious situations throughout my life. However, one of the most troubling is to see unemployed and often derelict adult children come home to their parent’s Social Security and/ or state social welfare money on a monthly basis. I witnessed this heartbreak as a young boy and I am seeing it still today.

In high spirits, everyone would pile into a vehicle or the elderly couple’s car and go to town. It appeared that everyone got what they wanted on that single daylong trip, whether it was a bicycle chain, 9-volt batteries for a transistor radio, oil for somebody’s car, baby items, clothing, or some other personal need. Alcohol was always on the list of items for the day.

The elder (s) didn’t seem to mind, even if they had just enough left to buy food for a few days. Their primary concern was to make sure their grandchildren were happy since their parents were usually incapable of caring for them. They were usually broke by the day’s end. Then they survived as best they could on their monthly commodity food entitlement augmented by a small vegetable garden.

Caring for relatives is undoubtedly a cultural trait. Many of our elders are caring people and want their loved ones to be happy. Too often, though, they end up being over-protective which often clashes disastrously with the stringency of the dominant industrialized world. In a basic sense, money and cultural protocols do appear incompatible.

Anyway, the main problem with an over-protective parent or grandparent is that they, more often than not, foster individuals who are without boundaries. Then this comes in contact with the handling or mishandling of money. The older ones seemingly fail to see that their little ones are individuals who will grow up with the right to own their own thoughts, opinions, and actions.

Those young ones of long ago, now grandparents themselves, are doing the same thing. Many are school dropouts, active alcoholics, and surviving on fixed incomes. Some are even raising their grandchildren. However, their little ones are not doing well in school which supports a persistent attitude in which the government is responsible for their children’s schooling as well as their upbringing.

Needless to say, and I am not blaming, but the federal government did have a primary hand in this particular situation. It is a historic fact but we must also realize our only hope of reprieve is to be alcohol and drug free, culturally established, and have an “English” education. Local schools are often over-loaded and are in dire need of parental support with educating the youth.

Some of our schools have gone beyond their parameters trying to bring their students up to par while coping with the results of this vicious cycle. Still it is not enough as our dropout rates and academic achievement levels (on the average) remain unchanged. The schools are also the target of discontented, and often resentful, community members.

Where mainstream children go to school ready to learn, ours come to school looking for things they hardly get at home, like love, stability, and encouragement. They are emotionally challenged long before they walk through the doors. Most do not fit into established learning patterns which render the effectiveness of the state education common core standards incompatible and irrelevant.

To effectively address this situation, there are some things that must be realized. Groundless blaming has not benefited anyone, especially the children. I’ve played this blame-game and protested against our local school in the 1980s because our 8th grade graduates were moving into high school with 4th grade reading levels. U. S. Justice Department negotiators came in to “resolve” the situation. However, our dismal education stats remain decades later.

Since that time, I’ve learned that the problem is not with the school or the federal government or their inhumane 1800s boarding school system. I’ve learned that problems can be effectively altered and improved with a dynamic and informed parent community supporting their school.

It is not my place to be telling anyone how to raise their children. However, in view of our situation, a different approach must be taken. I’m referring to children who are severely affected by their parent’s constant consumption of alcohol and its often immoral effects. I’m talking about young parents expecting grandparents to raise their children because that is what grandparents do.

The primary job of a father and mother is to collectively prepare their children for how the world really works. Ideally, such a family would occupy a single-family home. This is where their children are taught life skills and self-discipline. These are conducive to becoming confident and self-sufficient adults. The school’s function is to teach academic skills necessary for “success” in the greater society.

If one is wondering what their children should be learning at home, begin with not giving children things simply because they want them. This only contributes to youth with unreal prospects about life. Many expect to live a ready-made lifestyle as soon as they are adults. Basically, children must be taught to earn the things they want.

Parents and grandparents must absolutely stop “rescuing” their children and grandchildren from their adverse habits. For example, most parents and caretakers will go out of their way to get their adult children and grandchildren out of jail. Although it is possible for adults to change their habits, it does not happen without serious intervention which could be treatment or prison.

Continuously “rescuing” youth from their bad choices and ensuing consequences is damaging to them. Instead, we must now help them to see the realities of the real world. We must now stop making decisions for them and allow them to make their own choices. If they learned good habits at home, they will make good choices for themselves in the future.

Initially, your children and grandchildren may not respond to you in the manner you expect, especially adult children. You may have to face some conflict with them. When you set boundaries, be prepared to defend them. Part of being an individual is making informed choices and taking responsibility for the consequences of those choices.

Lastly, it is of utmost importance to stop burdening our educators with our parental duties and responsibilities.

(Ivan F. Star comes Out, POB 147, Oglala, SD 57764; 605-867-2448; mato_

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