Who is Responsible For Raising America's Children?By C. David Kelly
Kissing babies used to be a must for any politician hitting the campaign trail. Now that we are immersed full scale in this year's election, it's apparent that politicians are taking their baby-kissing antics a step further. Take a look on the campaign trail, and you are bound to see a bevy of kids conveniently situated near the candidates.
Tugging on the emotional strings of voters is behind all this kid hugging. The responsibility of raising America's children has suddenly become the cornerstone of today's political debate.
The Republicans addressed it in San Diego. And the Democrats certainly took up the cause at their gathering in Chicago. Norman Rockwell-like images of President Clinton surrounding himself with freckled-faced children filled television screens during the president's much-heralded train ride to Chicago to accept his renomination.
So, where does the responsibility of raising a child rest? First Lady Hillary Clinton, proclaiming that the "family is part of a larger community," believes it takes a village to raise a child. She made that clear in her address at the Democratic National Convention. Bob Dole, the Republican presidential nominee, says it takes a loving, supportive family – not a village – to turn today's youth into law-abiding, productive adults.
Lost in all the rhetoric and photo-ops are the real solutions to raising a responsible child. For decades, rural America has been an example of proper child rearing. If you want to meet a productive, responsible child, take a drive in the country early in the morning and watch a teenager completing his morning chores before heading off to catch the school bus.
Visit a county fair and observe a farmer's daughter present her prized heifer in a 4-H demonstration. Or spend a day in a farm family's home and notice how the teenagers of the household balance their homework with daily farm chores.
For generations, parents in rural America have not depended on government for guidance in raising their children. Responsibility comes with the territory on America's farms. If parents in urban areas are looking for ways to turn their children into responsible adults, perhaps they should resist looking toward elected officials for direction, and discover methods of making their children more productive.
Adopting some of their rural counterparts' tried-and-true solutions would be an excellent start.
C. David Kelly is assistant director of news services for the American Farm Bureau Federation.