Articles From the August 1995 Unification News


Angelenos Celebrate National Parents' Day

by Sally Brownlee Imoto-South Gate, CA

South Gate may be a small city within the metropolis of Los Angeles, but it's very big on the subject of kids and families. This past Sunday, National Parents' Day, residents of many races and national backgrounds gathered together to celebrate America's newest holiday and to honor 12 local couples as outstanding South Gate parents.

Uniting to plan the joyful celebration were Police Chief/City Administrator Ronald P. George, Mayor Albert Robles, Marcos Vega, a volunteer for the Commission on South Gate Youth, and Godwin D'Silva and Susan Janer from the South Gate Parents' Day Coalition.

Across the board, the couples honored demonstrated a commitment to their children. They bothered to become active and involved in their children's lives, at their schools, in the PTA and on committees, and were faithfully present at most school activities. In addition, many also did volunteer work with young people through churches, Scouting, and sports activities. Some have even opened their homes to foster children in addition to their own birth children.

"Across the religious and political landscape we are seeing something fundamentally wrong that cannot be solved by government alone, but only by the love of parents," said Godwin D'Silva. The parents honored in South Gate are actively trying to right that wrong, and for all of South Gate's children, not just their own. They give generously of their time and of themselves, and they are the glue that binds the community together.

Henry and Teresa Gonzalez, for example, were nominated for the award by South Gate High School because "they always give freely of their time and energy to assist academic and extracurricular activities at the high school." Mr. Gonzalez has served as president of the South Gate High Booster Club for the past 25 years, and Mrs. Gonzalez has coordinated the C.A.P. testing and homecoming activities. Together they sponsor the annual football kick-off dinner.

In his 29 years in law enforcement, Chief George said he has talked to hundreds of young people who committed every possible type of crime. "If you trace back serious trouble with young people, you'll find that there's a lack of parental concern somewhere along the line," he said.

"It just shows you what a powerful thing it is in a family when parents are not there," he added.

George said several years ago he got interested in finding out what kept the good kids good, and he began asking honor students and award winners what kept them away from drugs, gangs, sex and alcohol. "The answer invariably was, `I didn't want to hurt my parents'."

"That's how much you influence the future success or lack of success of your children," George added. "That's how much power and control parents have."

George said parents today are facing challenges unheard of when he was growing up in the late '50s and early '60s, when the major school problems were such offenses as chewing gum in the classroom or "the felony" of smoking in the bathroom.

By contrast, he said, what we're seeing today is kids bringing guns, knives and drugs to school, and assaulting teachers, staff and each other.

"Today there are school that instead of having a fire drill have a drive-by-shooting drill," he said. There are schools in the L.A. Unified School District in the Valley in which "when the teacher yells a certain command, the kids drop to the floor and hide."

"Fears can have a great hold on kids in those situations," he added.

George quoted Ephesians 4:29, which reads, "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only that which is helpful to the listeners, that it may minister grace unto the hearers." He warned that parents' offhand comments can cripple a child's self-image and limit his possibilities. For example, when the teachers says your child has a "charming personality," don't destroy the compliment by saying, "I wish he'd show some of that charm around here."

And above all, he said, quoting Oliver Wendell Holmes, "Don't take away the dreams of your children."

George said the pressure parents put on kids can prevent them from realizing their full potential.

He observed that parents are usually pretty involved with their children at the grade school level, but back off when the youngsters hit middle school. "Don't do it," he said. "Hold them even tighter. Be involved in their lives. Find out who their friends are, and where they're going, what they're doing." George said in high school parents should be closer yet. "Hold onto your children with your hands, and put your arms around their shoulders and don't let go."

Marcos Vega of the Commission for South Gate Youth said one of the things that's wrong with America today is that we have lost the value of families as very important. "No success in the world can compensate for failure at home," he said. "Either we are successful in nurturing our young people in the home, or we pay for it at some point in the future."

South Gate Middle School Principal Tony Sandoval stressed the value of fathers in children's lives. "We all know the value of mothers, but fathers are equally important." Sandoval said in his work as a principal he handles discipline matters, and often within two to three minutes of meeting a young man adorned with tattoos, buzz haircut and chains, he sees the very tough-looking young man's eyes well up and then start to cry when he says, "You haven't seen your father in a very long time, have you?"

And invariably this is the case.


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