"Ghetto Parenting"


"Ghetto parenting is cursing around, and at, a child. Ghetto parenting is letting your child roam the streets until
somebody else's mother has to tell the child to go home."

Shocked?  Bored?  Me, too.  This is from a recent Mary Mitchell column and a followup in which some readers thought Mitchell was denigrating poor families while others thought she was doing a valuable service in calling out bad parenting. There's a roundup of the coverage on the New York Times parenting blog called Motherlode: A New Term for Lousy Parenting

Let's skip over the question of whether there is such a thing as ghetto parenting.  We all know that there is.  The real question is what are the acceptable uses of the term?  Is it useful, or offensive, or both?  Do you have to BE ghetto to describe something as ghetto?  Have you (would you) ever used the term out loud?

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  • To the anonymous poster who stated in reference to the discussion of ghetto parenting: " you know the type-tatoos, expensive habits legal or illegal, nails with decorations, no jobs, supposedly disabled. . ." This attitude on the attributes of incompetent CPS parenting, is not limited to anonymous posters, it exists in the CPS law department too. Just a few days ago, on June 12 to be precise this could be seen play out in a US District Court.

    A supposedly ghetto CPS grandparent who was "supposedly" disabled, actually had the audacity to litigate against the CPS over her "supposedly" disabled child's education. This grandparent got free legal representation with a lot of help. The grandparent lost the case at the due process level, and again pro-bono the case was appealed to the US District Court for Northern Illinois. Again the parent lost, and there was no appeal to the 7th Cir Court of Appeals, case done, well no.

    The Chicago Public Schools, possibly believing like our anonymous poster, that this grandparent was some type of ghetto hustler pretending to be disabled filed a "Defendant's Bill of Costs" against this grandparent. CPS was asking for $6,295.61. The case is Jaccari J and Sandra J v. Board of Ed of the City of Chicago and the case number is 08 C 6995.

    Judge Ruben Castillo examined both the CPS claim and the grandparent's income and ability to pay CPS what they claimed. Judge Castillo ruled against CPS. By the way a pro-bono attorney to defend the grandparent from the CPS claim also had to be secured.

    Judge Castillo in his decision stated: "to establish indigence, the district court must make a factual finding that the losing party is incapable of paying the court-imposed costs . . ." The Judge proceeded to do just that and found the grandparent, nail decorations and all, did not have the money and was legitimately disabled living for more than 20 years on only $714 a month in SSI benefits. Judge Castillo threw out the CPS claim.

    I find the characterization of poor low income parents who also may have very major parenting problems to be ghetto, to be particularly repugnant, especially when it is a Mary Mitchell column that is the basis for this type of astute sociological analysis. While it is true that Ms Mitchell and her twin were raised in public housing with responsible parenting, it is also true Ms Mitchell is now very middle class and her life is far from that low income mothers or grandmothers in Chicago. I also have some very major reservations about Alexander's statement: "Let's skip over the question of whether there is such a thing as ghetto parenting. We all know that there is."

    Maybe it would be wiser to say that many of us believe that there is a reality called ghetto parenting. But as the decision by Judge Castillo shows, sometimes our presumptions are wrong in relation to the actual facts.

    Rod Estvan

  • Parenting
    I don

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