In the wake of the Zimmerman case, I’ve felt a number of emotions: sadness for Martin’s parents and for Zimmerman and his family, anxiety about how my community and friends will look at me because I’m white/Hispanic, like guns and have the training to use them, and I support community watch programs.
All of these lives are permanently altered. Zimmerman will live with this experience for the rest of his life, and may very well never recover from the press, racism allegations, and death threats. Martin’s family has lost their son – no matter his behavioral problems – forever. Our community is tense and we are re-evaluating our perspectives with such sentiments as: “If I support the law and the verdict, will my friends think I’m a racist?” or “If I don’t enforce a curfew for my kids and constantly supervise them, are they equally potential victims of such a horrific event?”
I’ve thought to myself as a parent – “I sure as heck don’t let my kids run around after dark in hoodies to get Skittles, in a crime-ridden neighborhood” and instantly felt guilty for judging what I considered a lack of parental supervision. He was, after all, almost an adult. He was male – maybe I look at things differently because my teenager is female. I guess it wasn’t that late at night, it was rainy, and it was a Sunday.
Further rationalizing again, I remind myself that I wouldn’t even let my kid out at 8PM to go “hang out” with her friends last Friday night without a PLAN and adult supervision and she’s just a few months younger than Martin. There’s nothing good happening with teenagers after dark for which they need to run around. I remember from my own childhood – the sun sets, and we get into trouble without supervision. Teenagers are just not programmed to consider consequences. That’s why being the parent of a teenager is such a challenge – they want their freedom – we just want them safe.
I’ve wondered: if your kid is already involved in criminal and/or drug activity, don’t you have a responsibility to both the child, and the community, to be accountable for their actions and whereabouts at all times? To help them before it goes too far? Shouldn’t I strongly suggest that they remove the gold grillz and instead help them prepare for college or a job? Maybe I should monitor their Facebook and other social media so they aren’t posting pictures of drug use, and teach them that those pictures are permanent. Where are the parents? Why or better yet – HOW – did they not know about the details regarding their son’s repeated suspensions (drugs, graffiti, and burglary tools and women’s jewelry)? SMH.
Then the resentful confusion sets in: Though I feel awful for wondering why parents don’t look after their offspring, why shouldn’t we expect parents to watch diligently after their kids, or to get to know the other parents, or to help their kids when they’ve been repeatedly suspended? The government and family court system in Florida calls it parenting style – I guess I have to abide by that rule, too.