Some children are orphans with parents

Published 6:33 pm Tuesday, February 15, 2022

By Nathan Rice

I completed a child abuse recognition and prevention course recently. Those courses are always hard to view, but I’m grateful that organizations and the government strive to help those who work with children better understand and recognize all forms of abuse. 

All sane and moral people agree that child abuse is reprehensible. Child abuse is outlawed, offenses are taken seriously, and the government has plans to assist abused children. Likewise, many organizations aim to help children who are victims. It’s good that we take child abuse seriously. We should. It’s horrendous.  

However, there is a terrible trend in our country today that we don’t call abuse, but that is inflicting untold damage to children. It’s a trend that has been happening all around us, and it is largely overlooked. In many cases, it’s even become acceptable. 

This trend is parents who live with their children but place no effort into raising their children into responsible adults. Kids are treated as roommates more than young lives that need shaping. 

Parents who fall into this category often make sure their children have food to eat, clothes to wear, and a house in which to live. Therefore, it can seem like everything is OK, but a deeper look shows a sad and unfortunate reality.

Kids who fall into this tragic category have food to eat, but no one to teach them about nutrition, make sure they are eating properly, teach them how to cook or sit around the table with them for a meal. 

They have clothes to wear, but no one to help them prepare for the day by considering the weather or the climate of the locations they will be visiting. 

They have a house, but there is no home in which they are surrounded by adults who guide them, teach them, protect them and discipline them. 

There are parents in the home, but the children are orphans. They grow up, but they are never raised. This tragedy appears to be growing exponentially, and it’s being largely ignored. 

There are many reasons this problem is growing, but a few stick out to me.

Many view children as little adults who should be allowed to make every decision for themselves without the interference of others. This is wrong. Children are developing physically, emotionally and mentally. They need parental guidance, including rules, discipline, structure and love. Children are not yet capable of making every decision for themselves. It may sound like a kind and gentle gesture, but, in actuality, it’s abuse. 

Sometimes, like with other forms of abuse, adults place themselves above the wellbeing of their children. Free time, pleasure and entertainment for parents take priority over children. 

The most tragic of reasons for this type of abuse is that some parents, who themselves were orphans with parents, have no idea of what children need, causing this tragic cycle to continue.

We, as a country, must recognize and help fix this problem, but we cannot take steps to help until we acknowledge the tragedy of children who are orphans with parents.  

NATHAN RICE is a Hampton Roads native and can be reached at nrice@abnb.org.