Thursday, June 25, 2009

Tough Choices

Yesterday, I was faced with a dilemma that, sadly, I know is not unique.

One of the parents of four kids in our summer program has not been sending her kids. Since we are an educational program, we feel it's important for the kids to be in attendance each day. However, as I looked deeper into the situation, I discovered that the solution is not easy.

Kiela (not her real name) was encouraged to sign her kids up for our summer program by a friend of hers. Kiela goes to work at 6:00 a.m. so she takes her kids to their grandma's house. Her friend works over night until 8:00 or 9:00 a.m. so he agreed to pick them up at their grandma's and bring them back to Roseland so they could attend the program.

Unfortunately, things have come up on her friend's job and he hasn't been able to pick up the kids at their grandma's. As a result, the kids haven't been coming regularly.

As I tried to help them find a solution, I realized the dilemma this mother must be in. Her children are all under the age of 12. She has a tough decision to make. She wants her children enrolled in our program; she recognizes that her extended family is not a good influence on them. But her decision lies between providing the kids with adult supervision (albeit, negative influences) from the time she leaves for work until the time she returns, or leaving them alone from 6:00-9:00 a.m. until the summer programs open up.

When we enrolled her children, I was told they were going to be hard to handle. However, in just one week, her kids seem to adjusting quickly. Evidently, they go home every day excited about the program. They greet well and the anger I saw in one of them seems to slowly be dissapating. Earlier this week, one of her children went home and cleaned up the house. She said he had *never* done that before. I can only figure his cleaning initiative resulted from the daily cleaning tasks and responsibilities the children are given at the University of Values.

I can only imagine her frustration. I would never want to leave my elementary-aged children alone in the house for 3 hours. The likelihood of something happening that early in the morning may be small. But I know as an adult if I hear noises or see shadows I feel helpless and vulnerable. I can't imagine being a child feeling that fear. As a parent, if something happened to my children while I was gone, I would never forgive myself.

So, what does she do?? Does she take her children to a relative's home, where the kids have no structure and a potential/probable negative influence all day long? Or does she leave them home alone for 3 hours in the morning so they can have four hours of positive and educational opportunity?

Solutions are not always as easy as they seem.
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