Why “Child Protective Services” are Not

Prior to focusing my professional attention to advising my generation, I ran programs in NYC for homeless/runaway youth many of whom were in the child protection system at some point (drug addicted/AIDs infected/imprisoned parents) or had their own children in the system. I’ve been a Guardian ad Litem here in FL. I’ve been a foster parent (of a teen) in New Jersey. I know first hand what’s needed to vastly improve the safety of children removed from their home due to abuse/neglect.

children killed by abusersBe warned, it is a solution historically ignored as it unpegs our blind devotion to keeping children with (clearly dysfunctional) biological parents, no matter how incapacitated those people are as individuals let alone parents; our culture’s foundation for failure.

As obvious as this faulty reasoning is in the aggregate (recent series by the Tampa Bay Times & Miami Herald here in Florida as example), when it comes time to set, by law, extreme limits for such people to have the children returned to them, we simply don’t do it. Biology trumps proven incapacity to parent.

Although some parts of the country are ahead of the curve by ensuring quality/innovative solutions to their child protection problems (some major cities like L.A., others less so like Omaha, Nebraska) through the adoption of models that emphasize the child’s well-being over the “rights of the parents,” unfortunately most States, including Florida, currently hold parents’ rights, no matter how unearned, to be paramount.

So to start, we must accept two painful realities: 1) that the ability to procreate does not automatically make someone fit to parent, and numerous attempts to “rehabilitate” a parent while the children continue to suffer is not an approach worth keeping; 2) the systems are grossly underfunded and the funding they have poorly utilized.

Then, we must call for proven alternatives to the current system that fails children miserably.  That means passing laws that use added protective services dollars to make adoption far more desirable and affordable (as do programs like New Life Village in Tampa), and fund highly successful, well researched models of community care that provide safety, professional care, emotional and peer support, and an environment in which children can thrive, such as Girls & Boys Town in Nebraska (you may remember the 1938 movie, Boys Town, starring Mickey Rooney and Spencer Tracy) and SOS Children’s Villages.

We Boomers must no longer be party to embracing mid-20th century solutions to 21st century problems.  And as a member of the most influential cohort in America, you can insist on far better for these hurting children in your State.

Only then will we be able to pick up a newspaper and not read of horrific deeds by disturbed individuals who have been given the State’s sanction to continue abusing their offspring.

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Guest Post: It’s Never Too Late…by Stephen John Stulic

George Elliot said, “It’s never too late to be what you might have been.”  A great quote if there ever was one.  It’s inspiring for us Boomers who still have some gas left in the tank and are looking for “one more bite of the apple.”

decide your pathAs I see it, we are never finished developing into who we want to be, we are constantly growing, changing and becoming more and more of who we are. Time does that.

I was reading recently about how Michelangelo went about creating a sculpture.  He said that he looked at the rock, decided what was in it, then chipped everything else away.  In other words, he was looking to see what the rock was supposed to be.  Isn’t that what we do, constantly seek to find who we are supposed to be. Our job then, is to get rid of everything else.

There is a tendency to grow up becoming who others want us to be. Then one day we wake up and look around, and realize that the path we have been on has not been of our choosing; we have lived primarily to satisfy the expectation of those around us – parents, teachers, children, friends, bankers, etc.

So, do you continue following someone else’s path or do you cut your own and leave a trail? If so, it’s time to chip away at all that doesn’t belong.

It’s never too late to be what you might have been.

Evidence That It’s Never Too Late:

  • Nelson Mandela was 76 when he became President
  • Jack Lalanne at age 70 handcuffed, shackled, towed 70 rowboats
  • Ronald Reagan was 69 when he became President of the United States
  • Dianna Nyad, at 64, became the first person to swim from Cuba to Florida without a protective cage.
  • J R R Tolkien was 62 when the Lord of The Ring books came out
  • Colonel Harland Sanders was 61 when he started the KFC Franchise
  • Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger III was 57 years old when he successfully ditched US Airways Flight 1549, in the Hudson River in, 2009. All of the 155 passengers aboard the aircraft survived
  • Dr. Seuss was 54 when he wrote The Cat In The Hat
  • Ray Kroc Was 53 when he bought the McDonalds franchise and took it to unprecedented levels
  • Abraham Lincoln was 52 when he became president
  • Leonardo Da Vinci was 51 years old when he painted the Mona Lisa
  • Charles Darwin was 50 years old when his book On the Origin of Species came out

Decide if you are on the path you want to be on, or if it’s time to makes some changes.

Stephen John Stulic is a partner with Designs To Grow Coaching and Training, helping clients find their voice and a life of purpose by encouraging them to make inspired choices, and challenging them with the prospect of what they can become.  He can be reached at stephen@designstogrow.com.

Like Your Life? Thank a Boomer…

Baby Boomers peace and flower powerWe Boomers have experienced a steep increase in negative public opinion about our generation over the past few years, a growing chorus to our terrible societal stewardship; we’re responsible for every conceivable ill from everyone’s bad marriage to the national debt.

As I mumbled to myself “…if I hear or read one more piece about how the world sucks and Boomers are to blame, I’ll (fill in with some sort of impure thought)” …. I stopped in my tracks… “Hey, are we to blame for all that’s gone wrong over the past 40 or so years?”

The answer, of course, is “sort of…”  We have stumbled in the ways we’ve conducted ourselves as adults, as parents, as leaders.

But there’s a flip side to all the finger-pointing at our generation, that entails gleefully ignoring all that we accomplished to make life far easier for the following generations, things that are so taken for granted today that they go unnoticed, and vastly underappreciated.   And it’s up to us to disabuse (verbiage by design) of this notion all who wish to believe we’re “the worst generation” – from the media to our own children. Continue reading

Let’s Hear It For…The Tea Party?!

angry white boomerAh, the “Tea Party” – known somewhat facetiously but mostly factually, as a group dominated by White male Boomers with too much time on their hands and not enough accurate information about either the US Constitution or the Founding Fathers, who want a whole lot less government for everything other than those items they deem needing a whole lot more government intervention (such as women’s choice, definition of marriage, etc.); and of course, who want no changes to their SS & Medicare no matter how much updating these two worthy programs need in order to remain solvent.

Phew!

But…. There is one very important reason to have great respect for our Boomer brethren even if we don’t agree with their positions.

They are fully involved, organizing for the things in which they believe – and it’s working.  No doubt most of them didn’t do such things as youth – that was a hippie thing.  But they’re doing it now.  And those who were activists in our youth, make up the vast majority who are doing so little today.

So, hip hooray for the Tea Party for being actively involved – pushing for those things they believe to be in the country’s (well, mostly their) best interest.

To the rest of us who hold a different view of what’s good for our nation, I say… don’t knock ’em…. emulate them!

Boomer Mojo; Our Time Has Come Again

The guest on this past week’s show (11/6/11: David Mills, author of 10000 Days: A Call to Arms for the Baby Boom Generation that asks of us “what do we plan to do with the last 10K productive days we have left after turning 50?”) believes we Boomers can use our past activist experience, combine it with the wisdom (hopefully) and decades of knowledge we’ve accumulated, and once again fix what’s wrong with our country.

This inspired me to ask this question of our followers on the show’s FB page: “Do you think we Boomers still have the collective to power to make great changes to society like we did in our youth?”  (feel free to go to the page and be heard)

Here’s a few of the responses:

  • “We have the collective power to make tremendous change. Need strong leadership and lots of people talking and sharing ideas.”
  • “We can and we are…”
  • “Sorry I believed we did in my youth but in the end I don’t feel we made a difference.”

Now, admittedly we’ve gotten the proverbial bad rap from the younger generations, feeling that we pursued what was in our own best interest at everyone else’s expense.  And indeed, as I mentioned in my last post, once we got into positions of power, we did all the things we derided our elders for doing (bespoiling the land for profit; taking kick-backs for influence; filling our corporate coffers at the expense of our workers’ well-being) – only bigger and with less discretion.

But as a generation, we also propelled more positive societal changes than any other generation in the history of our nation.  Hey, younger ones, enjoy the freedom to live together before you get married, and divorce without societal derision if you find you married the wrong person?  Thank us.  Ladies, glad you can no longer be overlooked for that big promotion simply because of your gender?  Thank your local Boomer.  And, for those of you who think clean air and water is a nifty idea, that river in Ohio would still be so toxic it’s on fire if not for our unwillingness to accept such polluting ways (for you kids, here’s the link for the back story on the burning river thing).

Well, my fellow Boomers, our time has come around again.  We have the numbers, the power, the finances, and the experience, to make this country proud.  We know how to use activism as an efficient tool for change.  Unfortunately, right now, the only members of our generation using it well are the members of the tea party (45% of which are white, male Boomers).  And I say “unfortunately” not because I disagree with their positions; it’s unfortunate because they are a minority of us – the rest of us are remaining dangerously disconnected from our immense ability to influence positive change.

Here is a brief list of powerful things we can do, individually and collectively, to regain our generational greatness as propellers of the social changes needed today, just as we so famously, and successfully did for those that were needed in the 1960’s/’70’s:

  • Lead by example
    Keep your promises; say what you mean/mean what you say; give more than you receive; be a mensch
  • Get involved in something that betters things
    Now that the kids are grown and if you’re not taking care of an elderly relative, give some of your time to something designed to make our world better, whether volunteering for a cause that tugs your heart, or pushing for needed changes in your community; at the very least, regularly communicate with your representatives so they know just what you want from them, and if you don’t get it, find someone who will do what you know needs doing
  • Agitate for changes to the way Congress handles our nation’s business
    A great place to start is by insisting on changes to the way Congress treats itself; if our little Princes & Princesses in DC are treated like the rest of us, we will have more true citizen representation – those who simply love the power will no longer want the job, and those who want the job will want to get the job done and go home.  Here’s a petition I’ve started circulating to insist on just such changes; download it, sign it, and pass it on: 
    Petition to Congress
  • Be a resource champion, not a resource hog
    Did you know that the improvements to the environment we fought for and won 40 years ago, are in the past few years being undone?  Air pollution is now worsening.  Go back to your roots of good earth stewardship; we can start with eliminating our own wasteful habits, from things a simple as reusing rather than immediately disposing, to driving a more fuel efficient car and downsizing everything.  And, become a proponent of both clean and renewable energy sources.

So, to that last respondent of the FB survey, I say; we absolutely made a difference – refusing to see our accomplishments, and build on them has been our mistake.

I believe it’s not a matter of being unable to make the changes we need, our children need, our grandchildren.

It’s a matter of being willing.