My name is Susan Dench and I am on a mission to restore and promote personal responsibility in America.
This quest began after kids who were supposed to be pet-sitting while we were away instead held an underage drinking party at our house. They drank all our beer, wine and alcohol, left a mess behind, and damaged the house. Lo and behold, the police knew most of the partiers (and their parents) from previous encounters. Many of these kids were star athletes and students in town, and their parents (with the exception of 2 of 20) were indifferent or actually miffed (to put it mildly) that I would be calling to tell them about their kids’ actions. I simply couldn’t believe or accept the excuses these parents made for their child’s behavior.
Now we have a local front page story that involves a big party involving many of these same kids, excused this time as they were celebrating their state championships. The parents at whose house this was hosted have been charged with furnishing a place for minors to drink alcohol (although I am told they may have been overrun by these hoodlums). And fast-forward a week to yet another underage drinking party. Two of the boys mentioned as summonsed for underage drinking are the older brothers of two of the kids who were at our house party.
Although we know it happens in many other communities as well, there are many stories we have on these sort of parenting methods. One couple confronted for hosting a party claimed that if they didn’t provide a venue and alcohol, their child wouldn’t be “popular.” Another mother had kids use her business parking lot and ferried them to her house so no one would get suspicious about an alcohol-infused graduation party she was throwing for her daughter.
The ominous phrase of yore – “Wait until your father gets home” – is an anachronism of a quaint past, striking no fear in the heart of these kids, as they run amok in the knowledge that mummy and daddy will bail them (sometimes quite literally) out of any mess they get themselves into.
Luckily, and by the grace of God, there were no accidents involving the kids or innocent victims. No one died of alcohol poisoning, although reports tell of vomit on cars and at least one child passed out on a neighbor’s lawn, needing an ambulance called by the police. No one was sexually assaulted and no altercations took place. (And so far the parents haven’t been sued into financial ruin.) Luckily.
It isn’t the kids alone I blame for this sorry state of affairs, it is their parents. These are people who would rather be friends than parents, because parenting is hard work and they want their kids to like them. These are parents who are denying their children the opportunity to suffer the consequences of their choices and learn from their mistakes, something every child needs to grow into a mature, responsible adult. These are parents who encourage entitlement and victim mentality and deny their children the satisfaction and esteem gained from actually earning something by oneself. And these parents may even be like the mother who called up the HR director to complain about her child’s poor performance appraisal (yes, that actually happened). When do these kids learn about taking personal responsibility for their actions?
And lest you think that you are immune because you have no children at home, think again. The school system’s legal bill is climbing ever upward, thanks to parents who lawyer up rather than back up teachers and school administrators in disciplinary and other actions. You and your tax dollars are paying for their highly developed and completely misguided sense of entitlement.
The irony is that in a nation that has prided itself on independence, we are creating a nation of dependents.
I am asking parents everywhere to remember that you are first a parent and role model, not a friend. I am asking you to hold your children to a higher standard, hold them accountable for their actions and let them suffer the consequences of bad choices. I am asking you to ask yourselves: How do I instill personal responsibility in my children? And what will happen if I don’t?
Alarmed about what she sees in government, the workplace, schools, individuals and families, Susan Dench left her marketing business to inspire people to liberate themselves from entitlements and victim mentality to meet whatever personal or professional goals they set.
As her family will be only too happy to confirm, she is never afraid to give her opinion if asked (and usually if not asked). In her role as the Personal Responsibility Ambassador, she is a lively speaker and the author of several books, living on the coast of Maine with her exceedingly indulgent husband and admittedly spoiled pets in a charming 1920′s house, which is in an ongoing state of loving renovation. She can be found at http://www.susandench.com or reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, and her book, “The Responsibility Rules: Living a Self-Disciplined Life in a Self-Entitled World” can be found on Amazon.