The Lost Generation: Part Three

This article is the conclusion in a series about the problems facing young people. (Part One, Part Two)

It seemed that finally, Tim had found something or someone that was sacred to him.

He looked at me like a dad. I saw my high school mentor as my dad. I knew what the feeling was like to have that man that you can talk too. But, his drug-addicted mother accused me of trying to step to her.

For a second, Tim felt crushed. His mother had a pattern: men would come into the house, take up a temporary fatherly role, just to break off relations with his mother and him in no time. I assured him that I did not want to date his mother.

Tim had been adamant about wanting to attend church service with me. We settled on a Sunday that worked for both of us. I told Tim that I attended the 8 a.m. service because I had more commitments on Sunday. Tim was reluctant about waking up so early, but he did it. He actually called me and woke me up.


After service, we went and grabbed some breakfast from a spot by my place. We then went to my house and ate. We sat in the living room watching ESPN and talked about life. A few hours passed and it felt like minutes listening to him reflect on his upbringing.

I shared with him stories about my life. He seemed to be amazed that I grew up with similar challenges. He thought that because of the way I carried myself that I wasn’t from Detroit.

I truly bonded with him on that day. As important as it was for him to express some of those demons that plagued him, I found myself doing the same. I tried to reiterate to him that after all that he had been through, he was still here and he needed to make something of his life.

Still, as I sat there conversing with him I realized that I had to return him to his so called home.

He told me that his mother never attended parent-teacher conferences and rarely disciplined him about his grades. It was safe to say that Tim had done a “Tour de DPS” because he had attended more than seven schools. His current school was a charter school and the staff were working their hardest to get him caught up, with no parental involvement.

I realized that if Tim was going to be successful, it would have to come from within and a heavy saturation of love and support from me and others. I was definitely up for the task. I wanted to see him overcome life obstacles and graduate from high school.

Two weeks later, I saw Tim filthy from head to toe walking up 8 Mile Road. Traffic was super heavy so I couldn’t immediately get over to turn around. By the time I circled back to the area where I saw him, he was gone. I drove up and down a few streets looking for him and never saw him again.

I wanted for Tim to succeed so much that I was in too deep. I sat in my office nightly thinking about Tim and others’ life experiences. It is easy to get into your daily routine of life and forget that there are young people who dwell among us that don’t have any support.

If it’s hard out here for an adult, can you imagine just how hard it would be for a teenager with no help?

After all the investment of time, money and support put into Tim, it still wasn’t enough. The school did their part-I know I did my part-but what about the parent? Where in the hell was Tim’s mother or family?

The fact is Tim’s story is synonymous with several other teens right here in Detroit. They are trying to survive with no parental help. I have learned one simple truth.

Parents-don’t lie down and procreate until you are truly ready to be a parent. Being a parent means sacrificing your wants and needs for the sake of your children.

It’s not the school’s job to feed your child breakfast, lunch and dinner. It’s not the school’s job to take on a parental role with your child. It is the school’s job to educate. But, they can’t educate your child if he or she is hungry, dirty and preoccupied with parental issues.

So, don’t shake your head at these kids. When you watch the news at night and you see their mug shots, always remember that it started somewhere.

It is time to reconnect with our kids. They need us in the worse way. It takes a village to raise a child but our village is sick, and our kids need help. If we are going to take back Detroit and lower crime, it has to start with better parenting. 

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