As a follow-up to last week’s bit about sick kids, here’s this: it’s surprising just how many kids out there have lost parents. In some cases, both.
This last school year, I had three students whose mothers have died. There may be more; those are just the ones I know of. Another student had lost his father. They’re holding up well, all things considered.
Especially in poverty-heavy areas, students are likely to be raised by someone other than a parent. Grandparents raising kids isn’t uncommon. About ten years ago, I knew a girl who was being raised by her great-grandparents. Each of her parents, at different times, had just decided to skip town and go enjoy life. She wasn’t stable.
Also not uncommon are single moms who can’t handle their sullen, violent sons, and who ship the boys off to live with dad to straighten them out. It usually seems like too little, too late.
Variations on family failure just find different ways to hurt kids. I once had a student whose father molested her. I actually met him at a parent conference once, and never would have guessed it, though I don’t know what the signs would have been. After he was arrested, she withdrew because of the shame and ended up moving away.
Another year there was a class with a young woman who had been crippled in an attack that also killed her little sister, a tragedy instigated by a drug deal her mom was involved in and which went sour. That one had a happy ending: she got adopted by a great family who loved her.