It’s difficult to say which is worse: Being an absentee parent or one who leads your child into a life of crime.
In late August, a three-city, federal drug bust included a father and son from Canton, Ohio, among its 15 suspects.
If parents are our first teachers, what must some children be learning?
Studies have shown that regardless of peer pressure, parents are a child’s biggest influence. Given the circumstances under which some children are growing up, we’re probably very lucky things are as good as they are.
Call it “Toddling With Wolves.”
Reports of child abuse and neglect are rising steadily in all parts of the nation. Put it this way: There’s no such thing as a social worker with an empty desk.
A large portion of the cases they see are due to drug addiction. Consider the case that occurred in 2016, when Heather Frye, her mother and a family friend went to prison for involuntary manslaughter after Heather’s son, Andrew, died from a heroin overdose at a motel in Green.
In other words, the people who should have been willing to slay dragons for Andrew Frye instead allowed the kraken to devour him.
Parents as guardrails
Let me acknowledge my own hypocrisy: My favorite film of all time is “The Godfather.” It romanticizes organized crime, corruption and the damage it causes as a result of the Corleone family’s ruthless pursuit of money and power - even to its own destruction.
But it’s a work of fiction, not a tutorial. Once, when a real-life mobster boasted about his son becoming a “made man,” his old-school colleague responded by saying, “Ah, gee, that’s too bad.”
Even most criminals want better for their kids, which is what makes last month’s arrest so tragic.
Parents are supposed to be our guardrails, our behavioral standard. They teach us how we should regard and navigate the world around us. Without saying a word, they instruct us in what we should value by what they value.
When we are very young, parents define for us what’s right and wrong. The moment we become old enough to discern for ourselves is the moment when we realize that, sometimes, they missed the mark.
But there’s a huge difference between imperfection and grooming your kid to become the next “Baby Face” Nelson.
This isn’t to say our parents are solely responsible for the choices we make as adults. One of our favorite American narratives is the person who overcomes a rotten and/or dysfunctional childhood against all odds.
In her autobiography, “The Glass Castle,” Jeannette Walls details how she escaped a rootless childhood of abject poverty and re-created herself as a successful writer in New York City.
America is filled with such people, including Oscar winner Viola Davis, who spent part of her childhood living in a shack.
I think of my friend, Pat Fehlman, who had a harrowing childhood yet become a community leader and strong advocate for children and for people with disabilities in Stark County.
It’s often a proud moment for a parent when a child follows in his or her footsteps, but not if that path leads to a dead end.
Reach Charita at 330-580-8313. On Twitter: @cgoshayREP.