Teens Who Defy The Odds

As a former undergraduate Sociology major at Villanova University, I know something about gathering and compiling statistics.  As a former lawyer, I also know something about making an effective argument that presents the facts in a light most favorable to support your point of view.  While the combination and resulting conclusion of these two skills can be highly compelling and persuasive, it does not mean they are necessarily true.

There is a difference between effective presentation and truth.

Juan Williams, in a FOX.com opinion piece praising President Obama as a “national treasure and role model” for good parenting, quotes Roland Warren of the National Fatherhood Initiative. “Research shows that kids with absent fathers are two to three times more likely to be poor, to fail in school, to be teen parents and become involved with the criminal justice system” said Warren.  Warren has an agenda and so he is using one of many possible statistical gatherings to support it.

I take issue with Juan Williams’ opinion of the President as role model.  Further, I take issue with the statistics Warren cites in supporting his own agenda.

As for Warren’s statistics, it’s not a numbers game. One parent is perfectly capable of doing that job.  Is it harder alone? Yes. Would having both a father and a mother present be an improvement?  Maybe.  It would if it’s not a dysfunctional couple with all sorts of ongoing problems.  But if the choice is between an emotionally healthy single parent able and willing to be an involved positive role model or two people who are miserable together then “no.”

As for the President being a national treasure and role model because he is an involved father, as a parent I can assure you it’s about much more than just showing up.  As a single mother of an 18-year-old daughter, I can also tell you that it’s entirely possible to raise a teenager who is not failing in school, pregnant or involved with the criminal justice system. You do that by not becoming a parent until you are ready to be one,  living the principles and values that you hope to teach and by being involved enough in your child’s life to know when and where they are off track.

Regardless of his politics, President Obama did not work for the job he now has. Not in the traditional sense. He had no relevant experience. He played a political game and through his connections he got there.  He deceived the voters as to the direction he intended to take the country, and he has isolated and removed himself from the issues that are of most concern to the people he governs. National treasure and role model? Really? Or is just showing up enough?

We have many social problems in this country and admittedly the breakdown of family life is high on the list.  But I am certain that I could take up this blog, and a few more, listing remarkable individuals who have made positive and significant contributions to history who did not have the benefit of two a parent household.

It’s too simplistic to say that two are better than one… or that showing up is all that needs be done.  What is needed first and foremost is an ever-present and engaged parental role model who teaches by example truthfulness, respect, compassion, personal responsibility, diligence and patience.

If you can times that by two…great.  If not, no harm done.

My 18-year-old got all A’s, isn’t pregnant, doesn’t use alcohol or drugs, and is headed off to an international program that is part academic courses and part community service.

She’s my statistic.


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