Part Three – Neglectful Parents

Age and life experience obviously influence how you look at certain situations in life. I may not have a wife, children, or a serious job at this point in my life, though irrespective of that I feel I’m able to comfortably estimate how others live, based on what I’ve experienced and seen up to this point. Essentially what I’m saying is, I don’t care how old I am. I, early twenties adult, shouldn’t have to tell you raising children in a pub is in no way appropriate, and basically tantamount to child abuse.

Sure, the Department of Child Services will likely tell you there’s nothing wrong as long as the child has a head over it’s roof, attends school and gets three meals per day, but I can assure you that’s just an excercise in ignorance. Working in pubs has taught me that once people get used to the cosy social situation at their local drinking establishment, they will bend all other obligations to make sure they’re there at some point – drinking with their buddies who all do the same thing. They fall into the local watering hole too deep to get out.

Some bad parenting isn’t so overtly obvious.

Having children is an inconvenience to the social interaction they’ve become so used to, though the question here isn’t whether or not they love their children. In the situations I’ve seen they really seem to. These people just can’t break the habit of ‘that afternoon beer’; one that often turns into many. People that get used to this interaction make friends based around it: gamblers, other drinkers, etc. Their friendships revolve around these activities. They might help each other move houses one day, but you best believe they’ll be down the pub having a beer together and punting afterwards. They likely started drinking during the process anyway. It’s a degenerative cycle that only gets worse as time goes on.

Soon enough their whole lives become centred around the local watering hole. Who’s screwing who? Who’s pissed off at who? There’s going to be a new publican and what does it mean? Everything else becomes secondary, at least while they’re participating in the boring daily drama of a life spent sitting in one place, drinking with the same people. Raising children is just a blip on the inconvenient priority list.

There’s one specific example from the pub days I think I’ll always remember as I get older. An experience with the kind of people that are the example of neglectful parenting; the sort that make you want to scream out “GO HOME AND SPEND TIME WITH YOUR KIDS” whenever you see them.

Some bad parenting is overtly obvious.

Essentially the story is this: You have two people – defacto or married; who cares. They have two children: two girls under 10.  Things I’ve observed in my time:

  • The kids go to school. Great! They’re learning! However they are told to stay there as long as the after school care will permit, while mum and dad have their afternoon drinks. So let’s just say they finish school at 5pm. At this point they have to walk the kilometre or so to meet their parents at the pub, unassisted. Prior to 2009, the mum would just drive down the road half-drunk and pick them up. You read that correctly. Circa 2009 the teachers found out, and got our friends in blue to wait there for her.
  • During school holidays they will basically be there from 12pm-5pm on a “most of the week” basis, while mum and dad have their lunch and drinks. They create their own fun in the kids area or by hassling staff. This is life for them, and suitably they often treat the place as home regarding manners and general demeanour.
  • If the parents decide on an extended stay, of course the kids are going to get hungry! So out comes the change for the chips and chocolate machine! Sure, it’s not always like this (occasionally they’ll buy actual meals for them) but I see it alot.
  • One day the father proudly proclaimed that he’d never taken his girls to the Zoo because it was ‘all bullshit’.
  • After extended stays the parents will often drink drive home with both children in the car.

I’d estimate they’re probably at the pub for an amount of time equivalent to two school days a week. So in addition to what I said previously, imagine the kind of shit they can take-in over this period of time, watching degenerates drinking. It’s straight up child abuse, but not necessarily in a conventional “I’m from the Government and we’re taking your children away” kind of sense.

The tragedy of it is these kids probably could have gone on to do great things; instead they get to watch their parents drink every other day of the week in a prime example of human living. And so the cycle of life will likely continue when they grow up. Living down the street from a pub doesn’t help either.

I thought the whole idea of raising kids was to teach them the lessons learnt from your own mistakes, not to train them up to follow in your neglectful footsteps. Life is all about time management and prioritizing.  If you can’t prioritize the well-being of your own children over drinking with ‘your mates’ at the local, then you shouldn’t have had them in the first place. These sort of people make me sick and angry at the same time, and they’re everywhere.

I’m not a parent, but I know shit parenting when I see it. On behalf of all the voiceless observers, put the bottle down, GO HOME, and hang out with the kids.

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