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Kokomo Tribune (Newspaper) - May 8, 1994, Kokomo, Indiana am the luckiest child in the world to have had a mother and father who lived rather than just What I power we parents have for good says the I author Adults must pledge anew to guide protect and invest in our own children and in all children family taught their children that being honest was more important than being honored and that faith was a safer and more enduring harbor than BY MARIAN WRIGHT The author front at about age 8 stands next to her friend Ruth Behind them are lr Marians sitter Olive mother Maggie brother Harry father Arthur and brother Julian I 1 we celebrate Mothers Day i 1994 an American child is M abused or neglected every 13 seconds is born to an un married mother every 26 seconds is born into pover ty every 30 seconds is born to a teen mother every 59 seconds is arrested for a violent crime every five min utes and is killed by guns every two hours Every day 1234 children run away from home 2860 see their parents divorce children are home less and latchkey children come home to houses in which there is a gun The crisis of children having children has turned into the tragedy of children killing children as too many of our young mimic the adult conduct they see Never have we witnessed the threats to family sta bility posed by soaring outofwedlock birthrates and an epidemic of teen births among black brown white rich and poor alike Today two out of every three black babies and one out of every five white babies are bora to unmarried mothers And if its wrong for 13year old innercity girls to have babies without benefit of marnage its wrong for rich celebrities too Never has America permitted children to have such easy access to rely and gangs PAOB 4 MAY B 1QB4 PARADE MAGAZINE rather than on parents neigh bors community institutions and religious congregations for protection and Never have we pushed so many children into the tu multuous sea of life without the life vests of nurturing families and communities a sense of right and enough adult role models they can and wiuV out challenged minds job prospects or hope And nev er have we exposed children so early and relentlessly to cultural messages COVER PHOTOGRAPH BY EDDIE ADAMS izing violence sex possessions alcohol and tobacco It is time for all parents and adults to stop our hypocrisy and break the code of silence about the breakdown of spiritual values and parental and com munity responsibility to nurture and protect children While we decry rising youth violence drug use and antisocial behavior the plain truth is that we adults have preached moral and family values we have not practiced consistently in our homes religious con gregations communities and national life PARADB MAQAZ1NI HAY U 1994 PAQ8 6 It is adults who have financed produced and per 1 formed in the movies TV shows and media that have f5 made violence ubiquitous in our culture It is adults who manufacture market and make available guns to any body who wants one including our children It is adults who have taught that hate racial and gender intoler ance greed and selfishness are family values It is adults who have left millions of children without a healthy start a head start a fair start and a safe start in life It is adults who have taught children to look for meaning outside rather than inside ing them in Dr Martin Luther Kings words to judge success by the index of our salaries or the size of our automobiles rather than by the quality of our service and relationship to And it is ers and must accept responsibility and pledge anew to morally guide protect and invest in our own children and in all children If you are a parent recognize that it is the most im portant calling and rewarding challenge you have What you do every day what you say and how you act will do more to shape the future of America than any other factor The Ashanti proverb that the ruin of a nation be gins in the homes of its people means that its success also begins there What power we we mothers who continue to disproportionately bear the re sponsibility of child for good As mothers we must value children enough to dis cipline them spend time with them be decent role models for them and fight for what they need from our communities and nation And we must tell our chil dren that forming families is serious business and not to have children until they are ready to support them emotionally and economi cally A terrible story is just un folding It reflects the per sonal and national conse quences of hundreds of thousands of runaway and throwaway children AIDS orphans and children shunt ed about in outofhome care the legacy of count less parents of privilege who have emotionally abandoned their children for money personal plea sure or work and the toll on children of parents who are stressed daily to the lim its of survival by jobless ness homelessness too few community supports and isolation How many chil dren are turning to gangs and cults and drugs and too early sex in suburbs and in ner cities alike to fmdwhat they cannot find at home As I look back on my own childhood it is nearly unimaginable that I could have overcome gender and racial discrimination without the strong values high expectations and steady support of my parents whose legacies still guide and sustain me every day I was 45 years old when my mother Maggie Leola Bowen Wnght died in 1984 Yet nothing had pre pared me for the feeling of being orphaned of not being someones child When my dad had died 30 A On this Mothers Day I urge you to join me in the following pledge I promise to my children Communicate with my children Teach my children right from wrong and be a good role model for them time with and pay attention to my children Educate my children in mind body and soul Work to provide a stable family life for my children Pray for and see God in my children and all children Vote for my children to ensure them equal opportunity to Speak out for my childrens needs and join in a movement to see that no child is left behind in our oday two out of every three black babies and one out of every five white babies are born to unmarried mothers And if its wrong for 13yearold innercity girls to have babies without benefit of marriage its wrong for rich celebrities too years earlier I was 14 years old and the youngest of five children This devastating loss was cushioned by my mother who was a rock that I and my siblings leaned upon for security continuity and guidance My father a Baptist minister who lived every day the faith he preached on Sunday had been the strong fam ily head and outfront community leader while my he called pal and in the background keeping home and church running smoothly Although we worried how she would man age without him my mother did not miss a beat in as suming either the family or church leadership mantle My brother Harry assumed my fathers pulpit and my mother continued as family navigator and glue church organist and fundraiser and nurturer of my fathers legacy of service in and outside the home She prospered by giving and led by serving She opened our home to 12 foster children and continued operating the Wright Home for the Aged which she and my dad had begun behind our church until she three meals a day for senior citizens some of whom were younger than she until we in sisted in her later years that she hire a cook She kept up her community and church work until a few weeks before her death because she said I did not promise the Lord that I was going part of the way I promised Him I was going all the way until He tells me other And when she was no longer able to be pro ductive or to walk under her own steam when faced with a rapidly growing cancer she quietly announced she was ready to go did not want to be a burden to her children and refused further nourishment My deep sadness at being unable to pick up the phone hear her voice and seek her advice passed over time as her seeds of love bloomed in new ways The South Carolina home where I was born and my sis ter and three brothers were raised serves today as a youth development center of the Childrens Defense Fund and bustles with laughter and activity from com munity youth parents and teachers Two of her grand daughters help their father care for the nine senior citizens in the Wright Home for the Aged There is never a day when I do not think of her and never a time continued
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