Parents in Peril

The Fresh Prince had it right... or did he? (Spontaneous Life)

The Fresh Prince had it right… or did he? (Spontaneous Life)

By now, we all realize the dangers our children face. There are active shooters in schools, bullies, drugs, sex predators and countless other threats to our kids’ lives, and it seems as if no one… and no where… is safe anymore.

Unfortunately, contemporary life isn’t all that safe for parents, either, who face unique dangers of their own. Some are self-inflicted, of course, and some even involve their own children. One thing is for certain, though: parents all over the world are in peril.

See for yourself.

Mitchell Simon (WRGT-TV)

Mitchell Simon (WRGT-TV)

Last Wednesday evening, 16-year-old Mitchell Simon of Liberty Township, Ohio—an honor student with no criminal record—posted this status on his Facebook page: “I’m so pissed at everything I’m boutta be wreckless.” A few hours later, he tied his parents’ bedroom door shut, lit a fire outside it, stole his father’s car and took off.

Fortunately, Mitchell’s parents survived the unexpected attack, but they were both very much the worse for wear. Perry Simon, 50, had to jump from the second floor window and broke both of his legs. And Sharon Simon, 56, escaped with the help of deputies and fire crews, but inhaled quite a bit of smoke in the process. They were both transported to a nearby hospital and should fully recover.

Their son, on the other hand, won’t be so lucky. He has been charged with one count of aggravated arson and two counts of attempted murder. Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones is even planning to press for him to be tried as an adult, especially since detailed and premeditated murder plans were recovered from his home—complete with drawings and diagrams, as I understand. If convicted, Mitchell could be going away for a long, long time… or worse, since capital punishment is still legal in Ohio.

Burning down the Simon house (Jennifer Edwards Baker/The Cincinnati Enquirer)

Burning down the Simon house (Jennifer Edwards Baker/The Cincinnati Enquirer)

If you’re noticing a pattern in the media of seemingly well-balanced, innocent teenagers suddenly snapping, that’s because it continues to grow with each passing day. I’m not sure what—or who—is to blame, but something tells me parents aren’t always as guiltless as they seem. Consider this next story from Bogota, Colombia.

Margarita de Jesus Zapata Moreno, 45—a mother of 14 with one hell of a long name—was arrested this week for allegedly prostituting 12 of her daughters and selling their virginity to older men for as little as $160 a pop… pun intended.

Although Zapata denies the accusations, police believe that she started selling each daughter as soon as they turned 12 years old. One of her daughters was even impregnated and gave birth to a baby boy when she was only 14!

It’s pretty sick, if you ask me. And who among us would really be surprised if one of these abused girls suddenly lashed out and started killing people? In the ongoing debate over nature versus nurturewhich focuses on whether we gain our physical and behavioral traits genetically or through our personal life experiences—I tend to lean towards nurture. Yes, there are things we get genetically from our parents and relatives—pattern baldness, down’s syndrome and a host of others—but I still believe the people we become is largely determined by the experiences we have and the lessons we learn from others.

No viva Zapata... ella es mala! (National Police of Colombia/EPA/Landov)

No viva Zapata… ella es mala! (National Police of Colombia/EPA/Landov)

Parents, of course, are at the top of this list—those who are actually involved in their children’s lives, I mean. We all know there are deadbeats all over the place, and when I hear about them, I am reminded of a quote I heard some time ago: “Any fool can be a father, but it takes a real man to be a dad.” The same could apply to parents in general, if you ask me—any fool can be a parent, but it takes a good person to be a mom or a dad.

This seems reasonable, but what happens when the parents are good people, only they aren’t allowed to be with their children?

The Soza family of Miami, Florida has been asking themselves this same question recently. Last week, Ronald Soza took his kids—Cesia, 17, and Ronald Jr., 14—to school and dropped them off as he had so many times before. Only this time when he returned home, he had some unexpected visitors: U.S. Immigration agents.

You see, Ronald is an undocumented immigrant from Nicaragua who has been living with another family—the Sandigos—while he works to support his family. Unfortunately, his wife and the kids’ mother—Marisela—was deported more than five years ago. Ronald will be joining her soon.

Cesia and Ronald Jr. (CNN Mexico)

Cesia and Ronald Jr. (CNN Mexico)

Now two kids who are American citizensboth having been born in this country and doomed to “mixed status” with their parents, who could be deported and taken from them at any moment—are all alone and may face foster care and even separation from one another. For now, at least, they remain with the Sandigo family in Miami. I only hope they can stay there until our government finally addresses immigration issues and finds a realistic solution to situations like theirs.

In 1989—as part of D.J. Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince—rapper and actor Will Smith won a Grammy for the single “Parents Just Don’t Understand.” Today—and because of people like Zapata, the virginity peddler—this still rings true, but I can say this: parents are starting to understand a lot more. And given the dangers that await them in the world—even those coming from within their own families—the timing couldn’t be better… and the need could not be greater, either.

Posted on October 27, 2013, in Family, Perspectives and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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