Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Luxury

Today I realized something that I really hadn't before - Being a good parent is a not a "given" and not everyone has the "same oppurtunity". No matter what anyone wants to say when they rant about that parent yelling at her child in Tar-jay. Or when the teacher notices all the processed junk food in a child's lunchbox. Or when a neighbor judges the woman down the street for the state of her children's toys or clothes. Parents don't start out at blank slates when they give birth. The kind of parent you will be is made up of many, many factors that either work in your favor or against it. And the parents I work with are often in a deficit before they even concieve their first child. For example:

If you are able to be a really good parent,
you probably were able to see the same doctor, at regular intervals, throughout your pregnancy.

If you are able to be a really good parent,
you probably had access to plenty of nutritious food, close to your home. 

If you are able to be a really good parent,
you likely had friends and family who were excited about your child being born.

If you are able to be a really good parent,
you probably knew you'd get paid for at least part of your maternity leave.

If you are able to be a really good parent,
you probably knew not to drink or take certain medicine while pregnant.

If you are able to be a really good parent,
you probably didn't worry about your partner leaving you when he found out.

If you are able to be a really good parent,
you likely were thrown a baby shower, or two.

If you are able to be a really good parent,
you probably didn't also have to stop taking medication that helped you be stable.

If you are able to be a really good parent,
you have probably read at least one book about parenting.

If you are able to be a really good parent,
you likely were able to spend a couple days laying low with your newborn, because you had help from friends or family.

If you are able to be a really good parent,
you probably knew some lullabies that your parents sang to you.

If you are able to be a really good parent,
you probably knew the benefits and had some support if you chose to breast-feed.

There are so many more things that many people believe are "normal" and don't think twice about while they are pregnant. But for the parents I work with, this is simply not the case. While few people would say they are really "ready" for their first baby - they have no idea how many benefits they already have just be virtue of their race/upbringing/education/socioeconomic status. Then, once their children are born, there are a host of other priveledges that most don't even recognize. Such as:

If you are able to be a really good parent,
 you probably don't worry about IF you will have food to cook your kids for dinner.

If you are able to be a really good parent,
you probably don't often seriously wonder if you child will be gunned down while playing in the backyard.

If you are able to be a really good parent,
you haven't likely ever really feared your spouse.

If you are able to be a really good parent,
you probably haven't had to take public transportation for an hour in the snow to buy groceries.

If you are able to be a really good parent,
you have probably never spent the day trying to resist having a drink because you know one won't be enough.
 
If you are able to be a really good parent,
you likely have never had to ask a stranger for help caring for your children.

If you are able to be a really good parent,
you probably have at least one person on speed dial for those moments when your kid is driving you crazy.

If you are able to be a really good parent,
you probably haven't tried to finish high school while also helping pay the electric bill at home.

If you are able to be a really good parent,
you have probably moved less than once a year since having children. (Excluding military)

If you are able to be a really good parent,
you probably haven't spent the day resisting the urge to use an illegal drug.

If you are able to be a really good parent,
you probably haven't tried to get a decent paying job with a criminal record.

If you are able to be a really good parent,
you probably have not been hospitalized multiple times in the last year.

If you are able to be a really good parent,
you probably have access to nutritious food that you can afford.

If you are able to be a really good parent,
you likely don't get judged by the color of your skin when your child acts out in public.

Most of the families I work with can barely claim one or two of these privledges. One or two out of the ENTIRE list. Many have every single one working against them. This does not mean that none of them have managed to become good parents. Some even have become GREAT parents. But we can never forget that being a good parent is not a right afforded to all people equally.

It should be, but it is not.

Being able to be a good parent is a luxury.

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