It’s hard growing up. It never stops and some days it doesn’t seem to get any easier as you go along. After the none-too-carefree days of childhood you gather more and more responsibilities. It starts with school and when that ends you must look for some way of making a living.
A difficult prospect when you consider the economic times, especially in a First Nations community. The job prospects are limited and starting a business just out of school is no easy job in itself.
Then your next biggest step in your life is having children, married or not. Now not only are you responsible for your own life but you have another life that is totally dependent on you.
So now you are working a job, cleaning, cooking, buying diapers, looking for a babysitter or daycare and doing all the things needed to bring up a child while taking care of yourself. That’s pretty much two jobs making personal time a difficult proposition at best.
Then on top of everything there’s the extra things you do for your child(ren). You take them to baseball, hockey, broomball or other types of activities.
Everything seems fine until a local meeting. It might concern problems at the local schools. One of the first things you hear is more parental involvement is needed. You feel somehow blamed for the problems even though schools in the south don’t seem to require the amount of parental involvement being asked for.
Another meeting happens. There’s increasing vandalism or violence in the community. A curfew has been imposed and is not being respected by the youth. Parental commitment and participation is being stressed as the component to make this work by the local band and police forces.
As a parent, though, you can’t really enforce anything as it is against the law to spank children in Quebec or confine them. Meaning you aren’t allowed to even send them to their rooms. They could send Social Services after you and you would be labeled a bad parent.
It’s almost enough to make one never want children as the responsibilities are piled on you by organizations that seem to be inadequate to do their jobs without you.
No parent can watch each of their children 100 per cent of the time. Nor can they afford 24-hour or around-the-clock babysitters or guards to ensure their children are safe or not causing trouble.
Yes, parents must take responsibility. Many say that residential school took First Nations children away from their parents and now they lack the parenting skills that normally get passed on from generation to generation. It may even be true but there is a video out created by the Cree Nation Youth Council called The Power of Parenting that can help.
It shows that while parents play an important role, it takes a community to raise a child. Everyone and every organization has to be involved in making things work and pick up their share of the burden. Then we can become whole and healthy communities again that share a life and a vision for the future.