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Have parents surrendered responsibility to institutions?

When I was a kid in the 1950s, there was no such thing as having a discussion with my parents. They made the rules and I followed.

We had one black and white television, and we watched what my parents, Chuck and Connie, wanted to watch. The positive side of that was that we watched television as a family.

The same held true for the radio. I listened to what my mom wanted to hear until I got a turquoise-colored portable radio in 1964 as a Christmas present.

When Mr. Vankowski next door told you to stop swinging on his fence, you moved. No swearing at him, no yelling that you would get a lawyer and sue him.

If you were lucky enough to be able to go out with friends after school, you were in the house by 6 p.m. when the church bells rang to sit down to dinner with the family.

We never owned a home. We always lived in an apartment in a building owned by my grandmother or great-grandmother. My first apartment was in the basement of one of my grandmother’s buildings.

My social life as a kid consisted of going to my cousins’ birthday parties nearly every Saturday night at Grandma and Grandpa Rabiola’s house on the north side of Chicago.

As a family, we didn’t go to restaurants except for a time or two when we went to Dano’s Pizza, which was owned by one of my dad’s cousins.

For all the time we spent together as a family, there wasn’t much, if any, discussion about the state of the world, politics, religion or the economy.

What we had was our family and the neighbors. We did everything for each other.

Things have changed since the 1950s and ’60s, but the basic nature of people is still what it was thousands of years ago.

We still care, to varying degrees, about our family and neighbors but have different ways of showing it compared with a half century ago.

I’m going to go out on a limb here by saying this, but I think lots of folks gave up personal responsibility to any institution that would take it.

There are a countless number of parents involved in their kids’ education but there are just as many, if not more, who believe teachers and “the system” are responsible for preparing their kids for the future.

In Boulder City alone, there are a number of grandparents rearing their grandchildren because their children are unable to do so. These grandparents get a “meritorious service award” in my book for taking on this responsibility.

What about the kids who have parents who just aren’t up to the task of parenting?

Do we legislate parental behavior?

Do all prospective parents have to pass a test before bringing kids into the world?

You don’t become a good person or a good parent or a good citizen because of any law. Goodness, respect and responsibility come from not only what a person has been taught but what they feel inside. Countless factors influence what you become.

You know how you see two perfectly wonderful parents with a kid who is just the opposite? What happened?

Bad parents? Awful teachers? Terrible friends? Crooked politicians? Biased media? Violent video games? Too much freedom? Not enough freedom? Praising kids too much or not enough?

Choose what you wish because there’s enough blame to go around.

The bottom line for me is that we are all in this world and this city together. We need to step up and put our money where our mouth is and care for each other.

I’m not dismissing personal responsibility. I’m just saying we need to feel the other guy’s pain and do something about it.

We will never go back to the time when we grew up and thought everything was just hunky-dory. We can’t, and it wasn’t.

Many folks in Boulder City are fantastic when it comes to volunteering, but we need more of that. We need to focus on those who can’t make it on their own.

We are a great community, but there are those who need our compassion. There are folks next door who need us.

Rose Ann Miele is a journalist and was public information officer for Boulder City for nine years. She can be reached at roseannrab@hotmail.com or at 347-9924.

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