What has happened to my hometown of Upper Darby? The family unit is just a distant memory

What the heck has happened to my hometown of Upper Darby?

It seems like day after day I read in the Delco Times – our sister paper –– stories about shootings, robberies and other assorted horrible crimes.

The latest – today – was about a fight between two parents who got involved in a feud between their children. One woman was arrested.

According to the Delco Times story:

“Apparently there is an on-going dispute that escalated when one student poured soda on another student in school,” said police Superintendent Michael Chitwood. “An issue between two kids escalated into a fight between parents. The parents are creating more of a problem with this vigilante-type justice. To take these incidents into their own hands they are going to be locked up.”

And this isn’t an isolated incident. There have been multiple incidents like this one as well as kids assaulting teachers, thefts or vandalism at the district’s schools. In all honesty, I think I have seen the decline and decay of my hometown right before my eyes. And that bothers me. It hasn’t happened overnight. And I’m no spring chicken as they say so it’s been a slow and steady road to the bottom of the bucket.

How did this occur? What has led a place like Upper Darby to become such a bum place to live, work and raise a family?

When I was a little kid it was the greatest place on earth. There were awesome places to eat, the 69th Street area was what all businesses want – a vibrant, busy shopping district filled with parents taking kids for new shoes, sweaters or dresses. Now walk up 69th Street and you have a decent chance of getting mugged.

Now we can sit back and blame Philly for sending us their bad people but let’s be real here – not everyone who lives in Philly is bad. It doesn’t matter where you are from – if you are a bad person then you’re a bad person.

We can sit back and blame programs like Section 8. Then we’re saying that all poor people or people who aren’t making zillions are bad people.

We can make it a racial issue but then I can point you to plenty of cities and towns filled with minorities who they live in harmony and are good, hard-working people. To say it’s a racial issue that places like Upper Darby have fallen on hard times is a crock.

We can make it a religious thing but we know where that argument will lead.

The problem? To me it’s very easy. It’s the family. Or the lack of it. Too many households have broken families. There’s no mom, there’s no dad. Or both or neither want the responsibility of making sure the family unit is “operating” like it was meant to operate.

In the recent incident, one kid poured a soda onto the other kid. Then the feud began. Well, if the parents of the soda-pourer had grabbed their own kid by the collar and drove them to the other kid’s house and had him or her apologize to the soda victim, the parents and anyone else affected then perhaps the feuding would have ended.

We as parents are here to set the example for our kids. When our kids do something wrong, make them admit it and set the record straight. Break a window? Fix it or pay for it. Start a fight at school? How about supporting the school folks in charge and insist on detention? Steal something from a store? Make the kid return what he or she took, pay the business back and then make the kid work there for a week for free.

When I was growing up if I did something wrong my neighbors would yell at me and tell my parents. And then I got in trouble with my parents. I grew up with a healthy fear of my parents. And they never took a hand to me – ever. They didn’t have to.

Now you can’t even scold the neighbor’s kids for fear of first, the kids themselves, or second, the parents who could be packing a gun for all you know.

This is wrong. And you know it’s going to be too late before we know it. Heck, it could already be too late.

Hey mom, hey dad. Step it up. If you didn’t want to discipline your kids, didn’t want to be a parent who runs a family like it should be run then why did you have kids? But seeing as though you did, cut the crap.

People whose families have fallen apart are the ones ruining this country and they have already ruined my hometown. And I don’t like it one bit.

People can criticize Mike Chitwood all they want. He’s only saying what most of us really believe but who are too afraid to say out loud for fearing of offending someone. Guess what? Consider yourself offended.

Parents who beat each other up, who beat up other parents’ kids, who don’t act to correct their own kids and who set bad examples as parents and who have ruined our memories of real families are to blame for the ills of the world. Accept it, fix it or just go to some island and leave the good people alone.

— Andy Hachadorian

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About fromtheeditorchair

I am the editor of the Daily Local News.
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4 Responses to What has happened to my hometown of Upper Darby? The family unit is just a distant memory

  1. realpics says:

    I think your editorial has some great observations. Parents should be parenting and acting like adults; however, I would like to note that your commentary on “families” is very closed minded. You don’t have to be part of a traditional family to raise a child and raise them well. As a single mom, since the day my child was born, I still consider us a family. That’s right – just me, just her – but a family nonetheless. She is currently in 7th grade, has never had a discipline issue, participates in sports and other afterschool activities, scores above average in the PSSAs every year, just received the Academic Student of the Month Award – all from a child in a “non” family. It is not the family dynamics that determines the outcome, it’s whether or not the parent – or parents – are parenting. In my daughter’s school, there are many kids from traditional families – i.e., mom & dad married and raising their kids together – who have not necessarily displayed responsibility and consideration of others in many of their actions. Some are bullies, some act out in class, some show no respect to teachers, administrators or any other adult – ,,, So, coming from a different “window” on these issues than you – I would like to politely disagree that non-traditional family dynamics has rought all the issues that you note above, but rather that too many parents, whether married, single or in any other non-traditional relationship, feel that their child can do no wrong and teach them an “entitlement” attitude from the very start. Thanks for listening.

    • You are totally right and I apologize for missing that point. You are correct. And anyone who is in charge of “the house” need to step up. Whether it’s a single mom, a gay or lesbian couple, whatever. If you’re the “family unit” then be the family unit. Again, my apologies for missing that point.

  2. K says:

    I agree with you as well. I was more afraid of my parents and neighbors looked out for one another. Now they are afraid to. Growing up you were in more trouble with your parents if you got into an altercation in school. Now parents say “Not my kid”. I feel like we don’t do anything together and we don’t teach the ethics or the morals. There needs to be respect and a healty fear is not a bad thing. That fear will turn to respect. My daughter works in retail and it galls her to see the way kids talk back to their parents. As she says to me, “I didn’t know there was a choice. When you said behave and stay with me, it meant don’t act up or wander off.” A good swat on the behind never hurt any kid either.

  3. Sue D says:

    I raised my kids in UD and although I was a single parent and worked 3 jobs my kids were always taken in by my dear friend after school and my kids were taught respect for other people and their property. What is wrong with the parents of today? Don’t blame single parents some of us tried our best to make a go of a marriage but it takes TWO! I did the best I could and Daily Times stop putting Upper Darby on the front page every day. That’s why homes are not selling even in the decent neighborhoods of Upper Darby! Tell the Daily Times to lay off and print something positive about Upper Darby! If they look hard enough they will find some positive stories of Upper Darby.

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