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De Parte del Maestro
By Josh Flores, Special to La Prensa

Being a parent is not easy
It has been a few weeks since I have written and I am glad to be back.  Since my primary inspiration for my writing comes from my daily interaction with my students and it is summer I have had a little struggle to come up with a topic to write about.  However, I had to look no further than my daughter for that inspiration.  As I woke up on Father’s Day and began receiving calls and texts from friends and family wishing me a happy Father’s Day, it dawned on me I AM A FATHER!  I know this may seem somewhat peculiar to some people, but every so often I have these moments when I simply cannot believe that I am a parent.  I guess the reason I feel this way is due to the at times overwhelming responsibility that comes with the title of parent.

Josh Flores with his daughter Paula Alicia

It is no longer about your needs
I had grand plans for my life after graduating from college and starting my teaching career.  Traveling to different countries every summer, finishing my Master’s degree within four years, and a PhD in ten, learning a third language, and simply enjoying life. 

On September 28, 2001 that all changed—that is the day when mi hija, mi corazóncita, came into this world; and her birth changed my world forever.  Don’t get me wrong, life has not stopped and my goals haven’t changed too much, but there are now other factors that I have to take into account.

The bottom line is, when you become a parent, it is not all about you, it is about the needs of that child.  You want to buy a new fit?  Too bad baby has outgrown their clothes.  You want to hit the club with your friends?  Too bad you don’t have a babysitter.  You want to go somewhere for Spring Break?  Sure but only if it is a ‘family trip’.  Need I go on?  The demand of being a parent is something that most adults are not ready to deal with.  So for all of los jovenes think really hard about your actions and what may result from them.

Anyone can make a baby
Lets be 100 percent  real about this—anyone can make a child, but not everyone can raise a child and shame on you if you do one and are not ready to deal with the other.  I have a differing philosophy about this subject that many people may find extreme and perhaps even offensive, to those people I apologize in advance, but I am just stating my opinion.  I often sit and think about how backward our society is when it comes to bringing children into this world.  In the United States, we have the benefit of many rights and obviously we can have as many children as we choose, but I see a problem in this. 

Too often children are being born into situations that are putting them behind the eight ball at the time they are born, whether it is a young mother, an abusive home, parent or parents with addiction, or a missing parent.  Whatever the case may be, at one point or another everyone had a choice in the matter; that is everyone except the baby.  So the child will undoubtedly be a product of whatever environment they are born into.  

The real issue
Now let me explain that I am not advocating for or against the issue of abortion; in fact, that is not even the relevant issue here; I am talking about education and preparation.  These things can aid an individual in being the best parent that they can be.  Most of us did not grow up in a perfect little home in the burbs where dad had a nine to five job and mom was baking cookies.  Even if you did grow up in that kind of environment, all households have their issues, but I would argue that whether in the hills or the projects the most important ingredient to any good parenting is love.

I know that sounds very cliché and quite obvious, but the reality is many children do not feel love in their home and those children will grow to become parents who are unsure how to love and the cycle will continue.  I see this everyday with the students I work with and it breaks my heart.  I didn’t have a perfect upbringing, but I always knew that despite the struggle and hard times, I was loved.  

Ignorance is the opposite of knowledge and with knowledge comes power.  I feel that the more young people about how much goes into being a good parent including everything from financial demand, to positive discipline tactics, the better equipped they will be to deal with parenthood when it does come.  Some may argue that this is encouraging people to engage in activity that may result in them becoming a parent, however I would argue that once they see that having a child entails so much they would be much more cautious about their behaviors. 

Many high schools have a parenting class that students may take as an elective.  Many of the issues I have discussed are addressed in the class.  I am sure that many of you have seen or have you yourself taken home the baby doll for a weekend and were responsible for meeting all of its needs.  The main difference is obvious—you don’t give a real baby back at the end of the weekend.  I feel that it would greatly benefit our society as a whole if all people were required to take a parenting preparation course.

If you think about it, we are required to take training classes to become certified to do most things.  Some examples are driver’s license, teacher, doctor, skilled tradesman, and chef.  All of things are extremely important to society, but are they more important than good parents?  In my opinion, it is a definitive “no.”  “It all starts in the home” is a statement I believe to be true.

Be selfish first
Being a parent is one of greatest blessings in life; it can bring you joy and pride beyond what you can imagine.  On the flip side it can be just as overwhelming and scary.  One other thing ladies, you may look cute when you are pregnant, for me the prospect of inexperienced teenagers bringing a child into this world is not cute.  It drives me crazy when I see and hear students glorifying a teenage mother-to-be.  Life is a serious thing and I hope you understand that before you become a parent.

I tell my students not to have children until they are thirty.  Their reaction: they will be old and that’s too late in life.  I say that is ridiculous but if you will not heed that advice at the bare minimum do the following things before you have children: Get your education, and hope you know I mean college.  Establish yourself in your career.  Find a partner in life, who shares all of your life and career goals. Travel as much as you can and want to.  Be selfish and enjoy life.  When I say be selfish I mean you should do all of the things that you want to do before you have a child, again I’m not saying you can’t do the things you want to do because you have a child, but it will be much more difficult.  Lastly, make sure you want children. Bringing a life into this world is scary prospect today. Just think about it.

It’s not too late
If you are already a teen parent, I hope that what I am saying does not discourage or offend you. In fact, I am quite sure that you can validate much of what I am saying. You should spread the word to your peers that parenting is a heavy responsibility to shoulder. Further, I hope that you are working towards carving out a foundation to provide your child a good life.  The natural tendency for a parent is to want the best for their child.  ¡Hasta la próxima vez!

I would love to hear from you about my column please send me feedback or let me know if there is something you would like me to write about.  You can e-mail me at [email protected]. ¡Gracias por tu apoyo!






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