Should You Be in Prison?

Should you be in prison? Statistics provide predictive clues about children who when subject to certain sets of variables will end up suffering a premature death, commit suicide, or end up living a life behind bars, possibly even death row.

Keeping in mind that people are not statistics, and there are always objections to the rules, there are certain situations of lifestyles which when you see a child having to succumb to these circumstances can turn nearly anyone into an armchair prognosticator.

With hindsight being 20/20, we can review the lives and lifestyles of adults who have been incarcerated, unexpectedly arrived in emergency rooms, or prematurely registered to mortuaries.

What you find, as you might have expected, is that many of these adults lived underprivileged lives in their youth. If a child’s life is impoverished, and lacking in many areas of life, such as strong parenting figures, positive support systems, and self-esteem, this increases the chances of having trouble later in life.

This is the stereotypical observation.

The data which you might find shocking is that many adults whose lives end prematurely, live lives either revolving through the legal system or spend life behind bars, were raised in families that were thought to be privileged.

Their families lived in nice homes, lived in better areas of town. Their homes had well-manicured lawns, with nice cars in the driveway. These kids wore designer clothes, went to the best schools, got good grades, and participated in sanctioned extracurricular school activities, were members of the Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts, and reached high levels of achievement in and outside the classrooms.

While there are hundreds of variables, some of the most common ones include

Lack of Positive Connection

Positive connection includes spending time commiserating with family and positive role models, not excluding positive human touch. A contemporary term respecting the aspects of positive connection is, “nurturing.”

Children who are denied being able to develop a positive connection with a parent or alternatively other supportive family members may find themselves short-changed as they grow into adulthood.

Connecting with your child takes time, which many successful parents have very little of when running the rat race and trying to keep up with the Joneses, so to speak. With many families depending on two incomes, there’s a good chance that there may be no one home when latchkey kids come home from school and learn to fend for themselves.

Touching is a key component in connection, without it babies die. Humans are designed to connect via positive skin-to-skin exchange. So, it’s not enough to be there, you need to be touching.

In contemporary society, the idea of touching a child probably sounded a warning alarm inside your head, because touching a child is bad. And this has set the alarms of many parents initiating a perceived panic and struggle with the idea of maintaining positive physical contact with their offspring (especially those of the opposite gender) to avoid possible misinterpretation or legal ramifications.

Many parents have found themselves trying to explain themselves in front of a judge or have even been incarcerated because someone accused them of inappropriateness in positive physical nurturing of a child.

That would strike fear into the heart of any law-abiding loving parent.

The child is left to pay the price for this lack of nurturing as they approach adulthood and continue to have to find ways to cope in a world that is out of control.

Even so, there are children who have faced the worst of circumstances in their early years, who come from the most modest, even severely abusive childhoods who become powerful members of society.

These are the unsung heroes.

If you knew the details of their childhoods, you might ask them, “Should you be in prison?”

Statistically, maybe so, but these people found the wherewithal to go against the odds, take charge of their own lives, and decided not to become a statistic.

If that’s you, I thank God for you and admire you for taking the high road to live a better life, your best life, and make the world a better place.

May God bless you and yours.

Parental Regret

Life is full of regrets, and in general mother and father, the parents in our modern society, espouse the most regrets of all having sacrificed all for the family. This is parental regret.

It’s that point in life when the father looks back at his life and the way he’s defined it, “I loved my family so much that I put them first. I worked so hard to give them what they wanted I was rarely home and when I was, I was exhausted.

I was in an almost constant state of panic, scurrying around trying to make the best life possible for my children. They meant that much to me that I sacrificed my all for them, my precious children, the light(s) of my life, whom I would sacrifice anything for, I love them so much.”

Working hard, spending countless hours commuting, working, educating yourself and volunteering so that you might be able to get a better job or move up the corporate ladder to better provide for your family which presents you with increasing financial challenges every year.

Then there is that moment when the children have left the nest and the mother lays back on the sofa in the empty home and thinks, “I loved my family so much that I put them first. I worked so hard to give them what they wanted, I never had any time for myself. Even if I could have, I wouldn’t have had the energy. I was exhausted.”

I was almost in a constant state of panic as I scurried around looking after everyone else without any thought of myself. They meant so much to me I sacrificed my all for them. Now that I have time to be myself, I don’t even know who I am without them.”

Mother and father express similar regrets with one marked difference.

In general, the stay-at-home parent/mother wins the adoration of the children because she “was there,” for them, when on the other hand, the father (or working mother) “was never there,” for them and they resent the father’s not “being there” for them.

In terms of the overall effect of parenting, the mother wins the love of the children while the offspring resent the father for his (or in the case of the working mother, “her”) lack of attention and constant absenteeism.

And if that wasn’t enough…

When the children grow up, no matter how hard you did the best that you could to give them the best life possible, they spend the rest of their lives in therapy because of you.

(In the best-case scenarios, the parents are left in the dark about the thousands of hours and dollars spent on their offspring’s therapy due to their genuinely inspired attempts at child rearing.)

… more parental regret.

So, what’s the answer?

As much as you might desire a do-over, the only hope we have is to look at the past and from this moment forward navigate toward a better future.

Fathers and mothers who are working hard away from the home to support the children better make it a priority to find and/or make time to spend with those precious children if you want them to value you and your sacrifice.

Also, if you’re a parent, it is important to take some time out to do a little something-something for yourself occasionally. You need this to re-charge your batteries and to better serve your family without resentment or regret.

Parents should also make time for private time spent celebrating each other. Without this, you will drift apart and lose that precious love-connection.

For the parents whose children have already left home to live their lives and consider the possibilities of starting their own families and careers:

Embrace the regret and reject the guilt of your past parenting shortfalls.

Regret allows inspiration to do better from this point forward, while guilt relentlessly punishes you repeatedly for something that cannot be changed.

The fact remains, you did the best you could with what you had.

If you recognize you could have done better, accept the fact that what is done is done, and from this point forward you can make a better life for you and your children, no matter how old they might be, by celebrating their lives with them in the now.

Even if you weren’t “there for them” in the past, you can be there for them now.

Starting now.