Parasite and Host Produce a Second-time Mom

by | Dec 29, 2001

Free-market economists frequently speak of what is seen and not seen when assessing the drivel of government interventionists. While short-term results may benefit some group, in the long run economic meddling invariably hurts everyone, the free-marketers tell us. There’s nothing novel with this viewpoint — all it takes is a willingness to look beyond the […]

Free-market economists frequently speak of what is seen and not seen when assessing the drivel of government interventionists. While short-term results may benefit some group, in the long run economic meddling invariably hurts everyone, the free-marketers tell us.

There’s nothing novel with this viewpoint — all it takes is a willingness to look beyond the end of one’s nose. But the prospect of a free ride can cause a lot of people to look no further.

Government doesn’t have a monopoly of this philosophy. We see it anywhere there’s a willing back and someone else eager to climb on it. And the idea of shrugging isn’t very attractive when one’s grandkids are involved.

Grandkids?

In particular, three brothers, ages nine, six, and four. Healthy, active kids with inquisitive minds and boundless energy, who thrive on love, attention, and guidance. They’re our country’s future.

And they’re not without some modern touches.

First, the boys’ parents are divorced. Second, the youngest has a different father than the other two. And third, Gina, the mother, who has legal responsibility for their upbringing, is never around.

So who’s raising them? Meet Wendy, Gina’s mom, and Esther, her grandmother. They live in a comfortable house in the midtown area of a major southern city. It’s like this: Gina, an attractive woman in her late 20s and fully capable of working, would rather spend her time hanging out with her boyfriend, who’s been in and out of jail for petty offenses and lives on handouts, stolen loot, and drug deals. Raising kids, you see, cramps her style. But Gina checks in with her brood every now and then when she has a fight with the boyfriend or he’s back behind bars. Or when she just happens to feel like it.

The effect of this arrangement has been to stretch other lives to their limit. After 20 years of doing her job right, Wendy now holds the position of executive secretary to a man who expects her to match his 10- and 12-hour workdays and is so punctilious every other secretary has quit within a year of working for him.

Consequently, Wendy usually comes home late to unruly grandkids starved for attention. Esther, in her mid-70s and in sub-par health, does what she can but it falls mostly on Wendy to fix supper, settle disputes, help with homework, and get them to bed. Each weekday brings the same routine, though on Friday evenings she hauls them to scouts and occasionally meets with teachers before going to work.

Without her job she wouldn’t be able to support herself and the boys at their currently modest level. Because of her job she’s prevented from giving her grandkids the upbringing they need.

“They can’t participate in sports because I don’t get home in time to take them to practices,” Wendy explains, “If Gina would be their mother, we’d all have a better life.”

Twenty years ago, Wendy divorced her philandering husband and took an entry-level position with her present employer. Gina, along with an older brother, lived with her mom.

Gina began smoking pot at 14 and soon became distant and secretive. After graduating from high school, she left home, got married and came back divorced with two sons. She got hooked on painkillers briefly through her present boyfriend and father of her third child.

In an effort to get Gina into the work force and to drive her kids places, Wendy paid $2,800 to drop a new engine into her old T-Bird then had it repaired and painted. It drove like new. But when she handed the keys to her daughter, Gina and boyfriend simply took off with it. “She brought it back one Monday morning and it looked like junk,” Wendy says. “It literally made me sick. I took the keys away from her, and she got angry.”

Sadly, Wendy’s not unique in her home life. “More than 3.5 million children are growing up in households headed by a grandparent, and nearly 1.5 million live exclusively with their grandparents,” writes Renee Woodworth, Director of the Grandparent Information Center of the AARP. “There is good reason to believe that these figures, provided by the U.S. Census Bureau, are conservative, and there is every reason to fear that they will grow.”

Indeed, the Census Bureau tells us the number of children under care of one or more grandparents shot up 76 percent over the last three decades. Our government, with its aversion to really root causes, attributes the shift in responsibility to substance abuse, child abuse, neglect, and abandonment.

Three-fourths of parenting grandparents are women over 50 and most of the kids they’re bringing up are under 12. In raising three grandsons, Wendy, not quite 50, has twice the responsibility of the average second-time parent. She’s currently filing for custody through a local Family and Children’s Services agency so she’ll have the necessary authority to act on their behalf.

But Wendy’s willing to forego custody if Gina will come around. Unlike her mother, Gina’s entire adult life has been spent following the path of least resistance. She’s a victim, you understand, and mom’s back is strong and available.

Wake up, Gina. Dump your lifestyle. Spare your life and the lives of your family.

George Smith lives in Atlanta where he is busy writing screenplays and articles on liberty. In addition to parenting, he enjoys staying fit, tomato gardening, and making the occasional "killer sandwich."

The views expressed above represent those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the editors and publishers of Capitalism Magazine. Capitalism Magazine sometimes publishes articles we disagree with because we think the article provides information, or a contrasting point of view, that may be of value to our readers.

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