Guest Commentary: Law shows necessity of understanding
"Pack your bags; I’m taking you to Nebraska. Hurry because we have to get there before my plan is ruined."
Teens have to deal with many issues every day. On top of this, imagine hearing your parent has plans to drop you off in Nebraska, never to return. In recent weeks Nebraska had to consider setting an age limit to the safe-haven law. This change in its law is necessary because parents are dropping off teens as well as children of younger ages.
Most of us think that the safe-haven law is helpful for parents who believe that they cannot raise their infant or newborn child, not their child who has an attachment to the parent and is cognitively developed to the point of knowing that their parent is getting rid of them.
A report showed some parents from other states even brought their adolescent child to Nebraska to drop them off under the safe-haven law. How bad does it have to be for parents in other states to make this decision? What else was tried before this decision was made? These are some questions that may come to mind, but the focus needs to be on the child or adolescent.
Significant emotional damage has to be occurring to these children when their parent drops them off. They are being rejected by the people who are supposed to love them unconditionally. How can they feel loved at this point? This is damaging their self-esteem and has a negative impact on their self worth.
Some people may think the parents are doing their children a favor by dropping them off, instead of making other damaging choices that would affect the child. But the reality is that these adults are showing their children and others that we throw in the towel when times get hard, or that they do not have to fulfill the responsibility they were granted at the time of conception. Is this what we want our children to learn or other adults to do?
This behavior and these choices show a definite need of more supportive services for parents. We as a society also need to be more respectful when someone tells us that they are having a hard time raising their child, instead of criticizing them.
If some of these parents felt they had some support, then it is possible they would not try dump their child off. We all know that children are not born with a handbook instructing us on how to raise them properly, but it is our responsibility to raise them when we have them. There are going to be challenges in raising children, but there are ways to overcome and deal with these challenges.
Our society should also have a problem with this because these children are innocent. Sure, it is a possibility that they may not behave perfectly for their parents, but who did as a child or adolescent? We need to be more protective of our adolescents; they are not miniature adults.
Our society treats them like they should behave as adults do, but that is unfair because their brains have not completed development. If society would view teens for who they really are then maybe these parents would not feel so frustrated.
This issue is a clear indication that we, society as a whole, need to become more educated about teen development and behavior. We also need to exert the same patience our parents exercised with us during "the difficult years."
Tate, a social work graduate student, can be reached via [email protected]