Parents as Teachers, or Government as Parents?

Lisa Crawford of the St. Joseph News-Press reports on the cuts to the Parents as Teachers program, and the impact perceived by some in that community.

It’s important to reach kids early. We all know that. Or at least, anybody who cares about their kids knows that.

Why do parents need a government program to teach them how to be parents? Maybe PAT does some good things. I don’t know. I do know  there are many ways to learn about parenting without relying on the assistance of an employee of the government.

There is instinct. There is experience. There are other parents. There is the church. In many places there are formal and informal parenting groups, often free of charge.  There is the library. There is the internet. There is extended family, and there are friends. I would not think we would need to add “government” to the this dynamic list.

The first line of this news article reads:

“Many parents, like Robin High, 32, are suddenly on their own after the St. Joseph branch of Parents as Teachers had to suspend services…”

That is false. Parents are not on their own simply because the government is not helping them. First of all, what about the Dad? Where is the Dad in this picture? Does he not even merit a mention? The fact that he does not, in the mind of this reporter and newspaper, ought to bother and offend us. It demonstrates a disregard for fathers and fatherhood.

“Ms.” is used in the article, but if the person above was married, are there not two parents? If that’s the case, this person is not alone. If the biological father in the case above is now out of the picture, does that not merit mention? Wouldn’t reporting that fact help the reader understand why this person was in a position to seek the help of the government?

I see this kind of reporting all the time. Or I should say, I see this kind of non-reporting all the time. It is no wonder that if we do not even think about Dads, we will, as a people, then think of the government to be our protector and provider.

Not every mother is a wife to a husband and not every father is husband to a wife. Ideally, that would be the case. If a spouse dies or is injured or because of financial hardships is unavailable, then understandably and unavoidably one parent might be doing most of the parenting alone. In other cases, however, raising a child alone is most often the result of choices. (There are of course exceptions to this rule, rape being one of them). If you do not want to or are not capable of raising a child, then do not have one. To do so would be a selfish and cruel thing to do.

I was shocked to learn that “more than 50 percent of St. Joseph parents with children pre-kindergarten age participate with PAT.” Really? Should this really be happening in our communities? Is it healthy and productive in the short and long run for these communities for over half the parents to be coming to the government to teach them how to raise their children?

I say, No.

It’s lean times that sometimes force us to make good decisions. From what I know – and I will be happy to learn more if someone wants to further educate me on the matter – cutting Parents as Teachers is a good decision.

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2 Comments

Filed under General & Miscellaneous

2 responses to “Parents as Teachers, or Government as Parents?

  1. darlene johnston

    before you write a article about parents as teachers you should do your research. This is not a program where the goverment is raising the children, it is helping the parents by bringing child development information into the homes so they can become better parents which in return helps the children. Parents as Teachers is just what it says the parent is the teacher in the childs life the parent educator comes into the home to bring age appropriate activites for the parent to do along with the child, and to make sure the child is meeting all the age appropriate milestone for their age. The program also offers developmental screenings to make sure the child is on track with their age and if they are not they will either give the parent suggestions to help get the child caught up or put in a referral for the child so they can get the help they need at a early age rather then waiting until they get in school and the school system having to deal with it then, so it benefits the child and the school system to get early intervention for the child. Parents as Teachers is a great program and should be kept in place, if it wasnt for this program there would be alot of children that would not get the help they need until they get in school and other children in school can be very cruel to children with special needs and why not have a program in place that can catch these delays early so the child would not have to go through teasing when they get into school and it will also save the school system alot of money.

  2. Anonymous

    I agreed with most of what you have to say. The government should not be raising kids – parents should. However, I was very turned off by your last few paragraphs. You make it sound as if it is an appalling and shocking thing to know that so many parents participate in PAT. Parents are not turning to government officials and saying, “Will you please raise my child?”. They are taking advantage of a free program run by well-trained professionals who specialize in the early development of children. How many parents would turn down the opportunity to have an expert in this field come to their home every once in awhile to check up on their child’s development? For parents, it’s not about letting the government raise their children, it’s about doing everything they can to do what’s best for their children. I have been involved with Parents as Teachers and have seen the benefits to families. Were it an independent, privately-owned organization, I’m guessing you wouldn’t have such a problem with it. Perhaps you should turn your sights on the source of the funding for this program instead of beating up the program itself.

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