Thursday, August 21, 2008

Parental Training in School is missing something important

by Ed Latham

Schools vary quite a bit concerning programs that help educate our youth about parenting. I have seen many schools that offer simulations (the sugar babys, actual life like dolls with computer chips and more). All of these experiences help students to see some of the issues of becoming a parent, but I feel there is something missing.

Where are we educating our children about the potential pitfalls of jumping into permanent relationships for convenience, desperation, and many of the other situations that lead to unstable relationships. Everyone knows the statistics about how many marriages end up in divorce and how that rate seems to be rising every year. Many kids can spout out statistics about unwanted pregnancies or early teen moms and dads. How many can share what happens to kids and parents during some of the crazy confrontations that divorce issues may bring up?

Personally, I have been on both ends of the divorced kid experience. I have heard from divorced parents all sorts of stories that make great soap operas, but the effect of the kids in these situations changes the child's life forever. School is all about preparing students for real life and yet I see a void when it comes to educational forums for students to learn about the impacts of getting married, having kids then divorcing. I know there are students out there living the experience and those kids are going through some horrible situations every day. Even their peers may get glimpses. Are there programs out there that share different stories that help illustrate how things go wrong, why they go wrong, and how our adult decisions affect children in the long term?

In the past talking about sex was tabo in schools. With teen pregnancy running rampent many systems have deemed it necessary for some sort of sex ed to be intoduced. Teen pregnancy has show some declines based on those efforts. We now face increasing numbers of divorces and poor relationships based on fundamentally instable reasons. I contend we need some educaiton programs to help educate students about poor relationships and how future children are impacted by the adults in these poor relationships. The hope is that showing students the complications that often exist, the student would look at their own relationships and think more of the long term implications. Of course with the instant gratification in our society and the natural shortsightedness of teens, it maybe an effort of futility. Maybe it might help some young teens think twice about jumping into relationships that may lead to very difficult lives for their future children.

Do schools have any power to affect social change? I feel we do, but it requires some tough decisions and often some moves that are uncomfortable. Are we making any of those moves out there? What does it look like? Is it working?


Jim Burke said...

Excellent topic, Ed. It is a very big concern of mine as well.

Dave said...

Do school have any power to affect social change? Yes. But the real question is, "should they"?

I'm on the fence. In a ideal society, education about birth control, relationships, etc. would be done by parents, not the government. Realistically, though, it's not happening.

Why? Lots of reasons. Single parent households, tv and video games being used as babysitters by parents, and so on.

So does that mean schools should automatically take it over?

I'm not sure how a "perfect" relationship would be defined, as they can vary widely. And I'm not certain that a school should be designated as the "moral compass" for society.

There are no absolutes. One of my high school classmates became pregnant at 16. At my 25th class reunion, she was still married to the father, and by all intents and purposes, has had a wonderful and successful life.

However, I can definitely think of a few other cases when things didn't work out as planned. For that matter, I've seen many "good" relationships turn sour years later.

Great post. I don't agree or disagree. I'd love to see examples of what has been attempted in this area.

Jim Burke said...

Interesting points, Dave... brings out the libertarian in me . . . all the thoughts of power and control.