Today outside our apartment I saw a gorgeous stray cat on an old car. This cat roams the neighborhood freely and does not appear to have an owner. In the winters the cat sleeps on our car because the engine radiates heat… poor cat. As I thought about our neighborhood stray, I began to wonder how many children, like this cat, raise themselves……
It seems to be a growing problem due to the economic reality we live in. Most families must have two working parents in order to pay the bills. Two working parents means lots of childcare costs and, eventually, latch key kids who raise themselves . Latch key kids tend to be responsible for their own snack, homework and chores for anywhere from 30 minutes to hours after school. They are waiting for one or both of their parents to get home.
When I was growing up I often felt sorry for my latch key friends. There was a sadness when they headed home, knowing no one would be there.
I know there are more and more after school programs that keep latch key kids from needing to go home. These programs offer critical and essential services to these families….. but what about families who cannot afford after care? Their children spend hours at home alone with little to no input…. it is not a good thing.
While I don’t have the answers, I think it is important to ask the question of how we are going to help and reach out to these children who are forced to raise themselves (some in two parents homes, some in single parent homes)….. we owe it to these children, we owe it to our future.
Today, 237 days ’til 40, I will strive to remember to reach out to children who are raising themselves.