- February 3, 2012
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A friend of mine asked me for some DVD’s of horrific car crashes because he knew that I had taught some driver safety courses in the past. When I asked why he wanted them he said that they were for a project he was working on. It was all publicly available information, so I put a few together for him. Unbeknownst to me, his plan was to show them to his 15 year-old daughter who was preparing to get her driver’s license. Had I known his intent I would have never handed them over. They were graphic videos and after his daughter saw them he called for advice because she was too afraid to attend her driving lesson. Go figure!
Even if it were possible, a license wouldn’t necessarily lead to better parenting
I’ve heard people joke, and some seriously discuss, the possibility of requiring a license to become a parent. During my work at Covenant House and Los Angeles Youth Network (both of which provide shelter and other services for minors), I often caught myself thinking along those same lines. The pain of seeing abused and/or neglected children made me think that a license is not such a bad idea. Realistic goal? – Not at all. Even if it were possible, a license wouldn’t necessarily lead to better parenting. There’s no way it could cover all scenarios, and good parents make bad decisions all of the time. Look at the example above by a concerned yet misguided parent. Plus, even though we require a license for people to drive, we are on the roads every day with tons of licensed drivers who have no business being behind the wheel.
Not knowing that there’s a problem, or the lack of motivation to make appropriate adjustments is what creates an unhealthy environment
So what’s the verdict? While in theory it might be helpful to have competency exams and qualifying licenses for people to have children, it would be difficult or impossible to enforce. Furthermore, it would ultimately not solve the epidemic of poor parenting. Acknowledging that we are not perfect and finding the desire to improve is what makes a difference. We all have deficiencies and learning is a lifelong process. Everyone’s parenting style can be scrutinized. Having weaknesses does not make us bad parents. Not knowing that there’s a problem, or the lack of motivation to make appropriate adjustments is what creates an unhealthy environment. I’ve seen people from all walks of life and all sorts of adverse life-circumstances (physical or mental health disabilities) become great parents. There are people, books, websites, clinics, and other resources out there to help. Yet there is no formula or test for parenting because what works for one parent, and one child, might not work for others. So I have shifted my mindset away from pointing out others’ parenting mistakes to focusing on my own learning, educating, and promoting accountability so I can be a part of the solution. I might not be able to help or impact everyone, which can be frustrating, but I know that I’m doing what I can. If many of us can improve our own parenting methods, and can focus on helping rather than criticizing others imagine the differences we can make. And, in the end, even if only one person ever really makes vital changes, then that is one child or family who has benefited and will hopefully pass it on. So here is my own verdict—
License – No.
Lifelong learning and improvement of myself and others – Absolutely!
Filed in: Parents