Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Minimal Parenting

Here is something a student wrote on the topic of minimal parenting and foster care:

Minimal Parenting
    Minimal parenting is exactly that; minimal. We need to hold parents to a higher standard than what we currently do. The definition of minimal parenting is a lengthy but common sense definition. “Minimum parenting standards means that a parent or other person responsible for the child’s welfare sees that the child is adequately fed, clothed appropriately for the weather conditions, provided with adequate shelter, protected from physical, mental and emotional harm, and provided with necessary medical care and education required by law” (Chapter 5 Assessment of Child Neglect).

    In the modern age in which we live more parents can be seen not living up to these simple standards. A case worker I personally know, we will call her "Alexandria Hall," recently mentioned that the Logan County is maxed out on foster homes. My mother, who was in on the conversation, asked why have you run out of foster homes? Alexandria responded that with the economy going farther down the drain by the day more parents were either unable to meet the minimal parenting standards or were just plain choosing to give up their children. She also asked my parents to help drum up business so to speak for future foster homes. Alexandria quoted “We have seen a steady rise in the termination of parental rights over the past few years; with a spike in the last year” (Hall). When parental rights are terminated many times the children in that case are adopted by their acting foster parents. Since only six children are allowed per foster home when foster parents adopt them, they usually pull them out of the foster care program (Hall). As each year brings fewer return foster homes new ones must be sought out and trained. This takes time, money, and willing future foster families—all of which our world is short on. Due to the shortage of foster homes, more foster children are being put into group homes. At these group homes they usually lack individual attention, struggle with school work, and do not open up about their needs and the services that they may need. (Hall). How can all of this be stopped? If parents would just simply; parent. They have no excuse not to. Many parents think that because of their low income they have the right to abandon their children. They do not! There are government help programs such as WIC, Link Card, Section Eight Housing, and many others. Granted no one likes the idea of accepting government help, but if it means you can provide for your child; you must accept this and do it. The needs of your child come before your pride. You must accept this responsibility and do everything in your power to provide for them.

    Off of my personal soapbox now and onto the facts. One major issue is knowledge or lack of it when it comes to parenting. “Lack of research of what constitutes acceptable parenting is a concern. There is no standard for assessment in these matters” (Budd, Felix, Sweet, Saul, and Carlton 2006). There are very few guidelines for parents to meet. This is why we need to look out for the future of these children. We need to look at the capacity of the parents over the long term, as opposed to what the parents may do over short term with the help of supervision or supports. Short term fails to recognize the lifelong implications to maltreatment and neglect, the issues that may have brought the children into care.

After being brought into care the biological parents are reviewed according to Professor Budd’s process which involves the following standards and formats:

Describe characteristics and patterns of a parent's functioning in adult and child rearing roles, explain possible reasons for abnormal or problematic behavior, and the potential for change, Identify person-based and environmental conditions likely to positively or negatively influence the behavior, Describe children's functioning, needs, and risks in relation to the parent's skills, and deficits ,Provide directions for intervention. (Barish 2). 

There is a large lack of research on foster children and the effects on them. You get some like my foster siblings who do not wish to ever return to their biological parents. Then you have children like my father’s foster brother who, no matter the abuse he had suffered, he still wished to return to his biological parents. He had a very distinct loyalty to his biological parents.

These children usually do not know how to cope with the range of emotions they feel. This is most likely due to the fact that they have never been taught how to deal with simple and vast emotions by their parents, who also most likely never learned. Just as these parents have never learned to deal with their emotions, neither have they learned and exhibited the basic skills of minimal parenting. Minimal parenting is an interlocking system. Cultures, relationships, social stresses, and stability are all major factors in the parenting role. Does “minimal parenting” equip parents with enough coping strategies? Are they taught how to problem solve, set clear family rules, values, beliefs, and goals? Will these parents be able to problem-solve, deal with crisis, be flexible and balanced? These are all unanswered questions in the social work field. These are also the questions that spark the great debates over whether biological parents should be given their children back or should have their rights terminated and custody awarded to someone who can adequately provide for their children’s needs, not only physically, but emotionally as well.

    Minimal parenting may be an easy way out; to cycle children out of the system. This system truly breaks my heart. As a mother I love my child and know I will not only continue to meet the minimal parenting standards, but I will exceed them. My child will always have love, nurturing, and my emotional support to the fullest. All children deserve this no matter their circumstances right?

Works Citied

Barish, Noah. Admissiblity of Parenting Capacity Evaluations. 2009. 28 Aug. 2010. http://www.jrplaw.org/Documents/xxParent%20Capacity.pdf

Hall, Alexandria. Personal Interview with Case Worker. 27 Aug. 2010.

Spring, Beth. Foster PRIDE/Adopt PRIDE. 2003.

Chapter 5 Assessment of Child Neglect. 28 Aug. 2010. http://www.childwelfare.gov

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