The Missing Ingredient
A Call to Parents and Everyone Who Has a Child in the Family
JACQUELINE ESCALANTE DEAS, M.A., M.Ed.,
Author, The Empowered & Enlightened Teen
These are true accounts. Names have been changed to protect identity.
Marcus is a 1st grader who spins out of control frequently. He squeals, fights and gets angry when teachers ask him to do a task that he doesn’t want to do. When he is angry, the entire school can hear Marcus. He has even knocked a teacher down and kicked & bruised others.
One morning, angry parents insisted on meeting with me and the Principal. Terry had stabbed their daughter, Kelli in the neck with a pencil on the school bus because he didn’t like her. When I looked at her neck, I could see the small puncture. At that point, the school police became involved and spent an hour meeting with Terry and his mother to discuss the legalities.
A teacher called and asked me to visit her class immediately. Kevin was out of control. When I arrived, the class was in a state of demolition. Desks were overturned. Loose papers, books, crayons and pens were scattered on the floor. Another student was hit in the head as a result of him picking up the desk. He was removed and placed in my office, where he attempted to push everything on my desk onto the floor. He then tried to throw a chair at us.
Conner, (1st grader) was sent to alternative school. For what? He brought a toy gun to school (that looked very real). He turned the chairs over in the classroom and then pointed the gun to his classmates. He told them that the gun was loaded and he was going to shoot them. He said that he just wants to visit his mother (who lives in the same city.) Mom wants nothing to do with him because he reminds her of his Dad.
I had a heart-to-heart with the new student, Chloe because she was being disrespectful to her teachers. She was obviously unhappy.. I looked her in her eyes and asked, “What are you really mad about?” She answered, “My dad. I haven’t talked to him in months. Since he didn’t call me for my birthday, I called him. He didn’t answer. He sent me a text message 5 days later.”
I spent the afternoon and early evening in the hospital with Lavette (10th grader). She gave her teacher a detailed note about her elaborate plan to hang herself in the shower. I was at the hospital because her parents refused to come. Lavette said that no one loved her.
These are all true stories about kids that I have personally worked with as a School Counselor. There are more stories that I could write, but in the interest of your time, I won’t. There is a common theme or reality that touches each of these students --- there is a missing ingredient in their lives --- a MOTHER OR FATHER.
I have had the opportunity to work with thousands of students of all ages. I’ve worked at an Elementary School, Middle School, High School, Alternative School, and University. I am blessed to coach over 500 kids a week. There are so many days when my heart aches for students. The reality is this – we can put interventions in place for their behavior. We can even find them tutors to help with their academics. We can send them to the Principal’s office. We can meet with the student’s family. Yet, there is another reality – there is a void that we can’t fill at the school. There is a missing ingredient that we can’t imitate or create. Again, that MISSING INGREDIENT of often a parent. In most cases, it is DAD.
This report is not intended to tell you off or bring your shame. It is created to inform you about the rich impact that you have on your child. Many parents underestimate their own power. Quite frankly, there was a time when I underestimated the power of parents. However, when I started working with kids, I realized the success that students have when their parents are involved and the lack of success when parents are uninvolved. When a parent is not involved, there is a greater chance that a child will be: angry, join a gang, have academic challenges, and be more prone to violence. The PTA (Parent-Teacher Association) has done years of research on parent involvement. When parents are involved, students have:
Higher grades, test scores and graduation rates
Lower suspension rates
Fewer instances of violent behavior, and
Decreased use of drugs and alcohol
Parent, if you have been absent from your child’s life, you can begin again. Here’s what you can do to get on track:
1. Call your child. Also, call your child on birthdays, holidays, special days (the first day of school). Don’t expect them to call you and hunt you down. You are the adult.
2. Tell your child that you love him / her. Children need to hear that you love them.
3. Be a man or woman of your word. If you tell your child that you are going to do something, do it. When you make promises and don’t follow through, it is common for them to come to school and cry ALL DAY, get angered easily, cuss kids and teachers out, and fight. We see behavior at school that you don’t see or can’t imagine.
4. Spend time with them. Your child needs your time.
5. Be financially responsible for your child. Taking care of children is not free. They need clothing, medical attention, food, shelter, tutoring and social activities. Your child is not the government’s responsibility or the school's responsibility. Your child is your responsibility. Just because one parent gets food stamps, modified housing and Medicaid (it doesn’t relieve you). If you don’t have a job, find one or find a way to support your child. Is your child supposed to stop living until you figure life out?
6. Visit your child’s school. Show up and act like you are interested.
7. Don’t punish your child because you are mad at his / her Mom or Dad. Suppose someone punished you because they didn’t like your Mom or Dad?
Parent: Are you setting your child up for failure? If you are not spending quality time with your child and modeling appropriate behavior for him / her, you are setting your child up to be angry, vulnerable, and resentful.
A Call to Grandparents
If you have a son or daughter who is not taking care of his (her) children properly, don’t enable him or her, or deny the truth. Tell your child(ren) the truth. Hold them accountable for their behavior and tell him or her that there is a life at stake. I see many grandparents who make excuses for their children’s behavior. Many of them parent out of guilt – because they missed a beat, they are too afraid to confront their child. If you feel that you are not in a position to talk to them because of your own bad choices, tell them that you are talking to them because you don’t want them to make the mistake you made. No matter how old you get, you are still a parent and you still have an opportunity to teach and reach. For the sake of your grandchildren, STEP UP!!!!!
The Butterfly Challenge to Help Kids
I have issued a challenge to parents, families and loved ones of children. Our children are like caterpillars. As they mature and transition, they will evolve to butterflies. When a caterpillar is inside the cocoon and the chrysalis, it is transforming into a new creature. This requires that the old caterpillar transition into something new. Help a child evolve! Help a child strengthen his / her wings. Help them to see their value! Do something special for a child who has an absentee parent. If your intentions are not pure, keep it moving! Don't inflict more pain. Make a commitment to richly impact a child’s life. Leave a legacy. Be a gift to a child. Email us to let us know how you've changed the life