Inner-City Teens And Parents: A Plea To Get Them What They’re Not Getting…

Posted: July 25, 2012 in All Roles, For Educators, For Parents and Guardians, My Thoughts...
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New to this blogging thing, I’ve been searching the internet to see what’s out there… and so far, I’m a little disappointed. I’m disappointed not because there aren’t great pieces written by amazingly inspired and intelligent parents and professionals, because there most certainly are, but I’m disappointed in what I’m not seeing.

I’m not seeing much for the urban parents struggling with their inner-city teens. I’m not seeing much for the single inner-city mothers. The grandparents raising too many grandchildren. The foster parents fostering young teens who have been heart-breakingly neglected or worse. I’m not seeing original and authentic ideas about why so many of our urban youth are barely meeting the low standards we set for them, and I’m not seeing thoughtful and simple suggestions as to how to get a kid to be the first in their family to go to college. And I’ll keep looking… but so far, not so good.

Urban teens absolutely get attention in the media, but other than the overwhelmingly negative depictions on the news of what urban youth are doing with their time, or not doing in school… I don’t see much of anything constructive. And I’m not trying to diminish the efforts or authors that are out there, because I have the utmost respect for anyone sharing their stories of triumph or their ideas about how to improve things, I just want a lot more attention given to this growing population of youth sinking deeper and deeper into their own apathy and resentments.

And I’m not here to pretend to know what it’s like to be a marginalized inner-city teen of color, nor would I ever presume to understand the plight of the young minority parent struggling with money and fighting to find a balance between meeting their own needs and meeting those of their teenager… but I am here to do everything I can with the skills, insights and experiences I have. I work with kids thinking about suicide. I sit with kids who are cutting themselves. I speak with kids in gangs who see fighting as a normal part of their week. I listen to kids who cut school to go to sex parties. I hear the stories of kids who have been molested by family members. I’m explaining to kids the possible consequences of sexting and sending facebook threats. I’m supporting victims of bullying, and the bullies themselves. I’m disciplining kids taunting teachers and harassing their peers. And I’m stirring kids to think more deeply about their own disinterest, self-loathing, apathy, hopelessness, helplessness or obsession with physical appearance. You name the issue, and I’m dealing with it every day.

I want to share what I’ve learned and I want somehow for my words, insights and suggestions to find there way to the urban parent who more than likely, isn’t looking for a blog on parenting. I want  somehow for my years of experience working in urban schools, shelters, group homes, drop-out prevention programs and with post-incarcerated teens to shed some light on what’s going on with kids, and how to approach them in ways that actually help them break bad habits.

I’m not claiming to have figured anything out with certainty, but I am claiming to have a lot of springboards… and by springboards, I mean words and ideas and suggestions that adults can use to jump in and stir some actual change in their own lives as parents, and in the lives of their teenagers fighting to navigate big city neighborhoods and schools.

So maybe this particular blog finds someone with some connections who feels so moved to connect me to a larger forum… or maybe this particular blog ends up just being a reminder to myself to keep trying… but whatever comes of it, I want nothing more than to affect some raw, positive, authentic change in the lives of our urban kids. Because underneath their alleged “anger” problems, and beneath their apparent “apathy” towards learning, and buried with them under the weight of neglect or subtle racism or abuse or misfortune, there’s a kid, just like any other kid, with all the skills and potential in the world. And all this kid needs is an adult or two armed with a little more insight, the humility to shut up and listen, and the courage and the care to talk to them directly without pity, and with respect and conviction.

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