Wednesday, January 21st, 2009
Obama: Parenting is a public service
President Obama described parenting as a public service in his inaugural address yesterday. Here is the full quote in context.
“As we consider the road that unfolds before us, we remember with humble gratitude those brave Americans who, at this very hour, patrol far-off deserts and distant mountains. They have something to tell us, just as the fallen heroes who lie in Arlington whisper through the ages. We honor them not only because they are guardians of our liberty, but because they embody the spirit of service; a willingness to find meaning in something greater than themselves. And yet, at this moment â€” a moment that will define a generation â€” it is precisely this spirit that must inhabit us all.”
“For as much as government can do and must do, it is ultimately the faith and determination of the American people upon which this nation relies. It is the kindness to take in a stranger when the levees break, the selflessness of workers who would rather cut their hours than see a friend lose their job which sees us through our darkest hours. It is the firefighter’s courage to storm a stairway filled with smoke, but also a parent’s willingness to nurture a child, that finally decides our fate.”
If I correctly understand, he’s saying good parenting is essential for the health of our country. Raise productive, educated and emotionally stable children to adulthood, otherwise the film Idiocracy becomes reality. Or something like that. I’m obviously extrapolating out what he meant by nurture.
It’s the concept of parenting as a public service, a willingness to find meaning in something greater than yourself, that intrigues me.
Think about it. Literally, local governments often levy taxes on property owners who are located near schools (‘benefit assessment districts’) to help fund those schools. The root idea is that schools serve the good of your whole community, parents and non-parents alike. Okay, so Obama’s idea isn’t so strange.
Who then was he referring to when he addressed a parent’s willingness to nurture a child? It’s easy to point fingers at the worst parents, our stereotyped views of parents in trouble with the law who then raise uneducated hoodlums.
I’d like to raise the bar a little, keeping in mind that my older child will be entering kindergarten next fall and my role as educator is about to go into hyperdrive. Obama was referring to all parents, not just the obvious screw-ups.
My concept of a nurturing parent is one who isn’t simply loving and supportive at home, but who is involved in his child’s out-of-home organized activities. That means school fundraisers, providing guidance in homework and (most especially) supplementing their education outside of school. Everyday moments are teaching moments. It’s about being engaged with what is happening with your child every day.
Did you catch Obama’s call to parents when you heard it? What’s your definition or reaction?