No Parent Left Behind, No Teacher Left Behind

I’ve read my way around the blogosphere a fair amount, at least with regard to parenting issues, and it seems to me that childcare is in crisis.  This isn’t new, but what is new is that the formerly voiceless are now finding both voice—and each other—in blogs such as this one and countless others.

As part of this emerging and coalescing multi-million mom (and dad) movement, I am feeling both upset and simultaneously empowered.  I hear the cries of anguish (on and off the web) about single moms and dads struggling to raise kids under tremendous economic, health and social pressures.  Raising a child is damn hard work, and incredibly important work (both in the eyes of parents who care about all our kids, and in terms of how much one would have to pay to get all-inclusive quality childcare).

I think we need to recognize parenting as a legitimate “job” and shift our perspective to a broader paradigm wherein taking care of kids merits pay, whether it’s our own kid or someone else’s kid.

In Washington, the pork capital of our nation, you can clearly get a B.L.T.; but isn’t it time that we just say no to the P.L.B. (the parent left behind) and while we’re at it I vote we also say no to the T.L.B (the teacher left behind).

Power rests with the people, if only the people realize and exercise it.  To lead one must serve the people, but to evoke the leadership we deserve and merit we, the people, must clarify our message as parents.  All parents who have a modicum of consciousness do not want any kids left behind—not just as empty talk, but as a true compassionate feeling that this is not right.

Don’t be afraid to say to your neighbor, “I can help.”  Maybe your kids are grown, but the mom down the block’s life would be much improved if you could watch her kid for an hour until she got home from work (maybe you’d like to give a snack and read a story, or help with some homework, feel good about it and then be done for the day with childcare but putting well honed skills to good use).  One of my heroes, Mohamed Yunus, pioneered micro finance (giving tiny loans, mostly to women, to empower them); I think the next step forward is micro-parenting—helping other parents in small ways that just might add up to some big changes in our society.

Maybe the single dad down the block would really be helped out greatly by being included in a pot of pasta you cook up; maybe in you he’d meet a woman to help change his stereotype based on the woman who hurt and left him (or who left and hurt your single mom neighbor downstairs or around the corner).  A good use of resources is to give locally just as we want farmers to grow locally; and the less money has to do with it the better, freeing us from an over-reliance on it as either the root of, or the answer to, every problem.

Parenting is a cause that unifies all of us who care for children, unifies us across all other potentially divisive lines (such as religion, economics, politics, race, gender and sexual orientation), a way in which those who care about our world and all its children might find that we truly are brothers and sisters.

This particular revolution will not be televised… but it will be blogged about, and it will be lived out house-to-house rather than in the corridors of waning power.  We parents and children are the world, we are the revolution—quietly coming together in compassionate, and non-fear-based unity; a unity that is clear, plain and simple:  we do not want to leave kids behind, we want to support parents and teachers to have enough so that they have food, shelter, health care and education for their kids.  We parents who have more than enough, but who see that it is in our own enlightened self-interest to care, who are willing to share, to have a little less so that fellow parents will not perish, must stand together with oppressed single parents and lift them up—free of shame and judgment.

No one sets out to be “bad,” or “lazy.”  No one dreams of a life of hand-outs (only crushed self-esteem, abandonment and wounds leave one on knees needing help), let’s think about how we might, in our own small ways, personally give parents the help they need to get strong, heal and take good care of their children—seeing our fellow parents as our brothers and sisters and their children as our children.

Small changes in individual consciousness and behavior may ripple out to have profound impacts on our world.  None of us have to do all that much… if each of us were to do just a little bit to help those parents who lack what they need.  If you are that parent who needs a little extra help, think about who you might ask for a little assistance and then find the self-esteem, and love for your child, to ask for help.  And please be aware that shame blocks us from healing; shame is the belief that our misfortunes are a reflection of our character rather than our circumstances.

I trust that you care about your kids, and about other people’s kids; I have never met a parent who doesn’t love his or her child (it’s easy to make snap judgments about parents who fall short, but if you get to know the situation, you will always find heartbreak, and tough breaks… and love at the center).

I encourage us to trust that other parents will be kind and generous if they are supported to be safe, free of shame, able to eat and feed their kids.

If we lift stigma, rethink support for parents not as welfare or handouts but as akin to family—helping each other because that’s what family does (at least the families we want to live in), it will empower parents to get what they need and feel more a part of the group and their kids as well.

Maybe stepping up will mean helping watch a neighbor’s kids for a couple of hours, or giving a little cash to someone in need; but it is far beyond money in the end, it is the will to see beyond money, or at least properly understand money (which is nothing but a symbol of trust between people) in favor of more generous, happier and freer lives.

Let’s dedicate today to No-P.L.B. (no parent left behind) and to No-T.L.B. (no teacher left behind); not waiting for our government to change, but instead changing ourselves to keep eyes and ears open to those right around us who struggle, and asking ourselves if we can help—and offering that help.  Sometimes it can be a sympathetic ear, a ride to the doctor or a meal that makes the difference, sometimes there’s little we can send but a good wish (but why not at least send that?); so, let’s each do what we can—in the service of each other and all our collective children.

Namaste, Bruce

p.s. Maybe consider how you might say, do or live this, but if you write, perhaps you might take this up in your own words and pass the notion of micro-parenting along to those who read you.

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10 Responses to “No Parent Left Behind, No Teacher Left Behind”

  1. mojgan Says:

    Thank you for this warm support for parents and kids.
    How can I forward a specific blog like this one to friends and family?

  2. BigLittleWolf Says:

    You’ve got my vote.

  3. Amber Says:

    Bruce, my congregation is full of single mothers and fathers. We work hard to make sure their needs are being met. Dinners and childcare is often provided.

    Unfortunately, I don’t know my neighbors as well as I know the members in my congregation. I know, I know. I should take the time to get to know them. I am frightened because we live in a pretty poor neighborhood.

    Aww, now my thoughts are going on some useless tangent.

    I agree with you wholeheartedly. Do you have any suggestions of how I could utilize this efficiently in my neighborhood. (Keep in mind that I stay at home with 2 kids under 2.)

    P.S. I really did link up to your depression article. I forgot to send you an e-mail. This is the link if you wish to read it and see the comments: http://makingthemomentscount.wordpress.com/2010/02/03/how-do-you-define-depression/

    • privilegeofparenting Says:

      In some places and some eras people sat on their porch and people passed by and talked. Maybe our blogs are a virtual version of this?

      In my neighborhood a lot of young moms stroll their kids and sooner or later other moms end up talking to them and getting to know them. It’s not long from there before a realization of community may spontaneously begin to form.

      When my kids were younger I would always take them to the nearest park which was another place you start to recognize familiar faces and eventually start to chat and realize that you are no longer strangers.

      One thing I noticed is that sometimes we have to be the one to say hello, or at least smile, first.

  4. Beth K Says:

    Bruce, I agree with everything you said about supporting parents and teachers. Funding for K-12 has just been drastically cut in Indiana. Unless this can be fixed fast through a referendum to increase property taxes or something like that, teachers and other school personnel will be laid off.
    Children will almost certainly suffer from less individual attention to their educational and developmental needs. I also feel bad for both the laid off teachers and the teachers who will be left with large classes. Our community will need to think of ways to help all those affected Maybe parents and other adults can help by volunteering more in the schools.

  5. Alana Says:

    I hope you don’t mind but I’m forwarding this to some of the parenting groups I’m on. I love the concept of micro-parenting. Will be writing about it soon – thank you for the inspiration!

  6. krk Says:

    I think a good place to start is at our children’s schools. If you are watching ,you can easily see the distressed mother juggling her kids, the rushed father with
    a worried look, or parents that are disconnected and stressed when picking up
    their kids. Contact can usually , easily, be made because you see the same parents daily. Once conversation is initiated you will have the story. You can
    think of the best way to help, and offer your aid where you see fit.

    Thank you for your humanity, and for helping your readers to find theirs.
    krk

  7. Lenten Promises « Motherese Says:

    […] Thursday Bruce at Privilege of Parenting inspired me to revisit the idea of Lenten promises with his post on the concept of micro-parenting.  Riffing on the micro-lending and micro-credit ideas developed and popularized by Nobel Peace […]

  8. Weighing In « Motherese Says:

    […] Ash Wednesday, I made four Lenten Promises, inspired in part by Bruce at Privilege of Parenting’s idea of micro-parenting.  In mid-March, I upped the ante by placing myself on a Digital […]

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