Chicken or Egg?

You might have heard of the recent Fitzgerald Report on regenerating a number of troubled areas in Limerick. Squid included some local reaction to it, including this gem from a Father Pat Hogan, who’s based in the Southill area.

Where you have acute income poverty, you have poor literacy, truancy, poor parenting skills and all the rest that follows.

Now, how does he figure that out, I wonder? I didn’t see him explaining exactly how poverty makes bad parents. You’re short of money, so you decide to neglect your children? Eh, no, Pat. Decent people look after their children, money or no money. It costs them nothing to tell a child right from wrong. They might be short of money, but they still do their best for the kids. Of course, being a priest, Pat wouldn’t know anything about being a parent anyway, would he?

I wonder if he ever thought about it being the other way around?

Most of my friends’ parents left school at twelve because they had to, but they were all literate. They weren’t violent. They didn’t even swear in front of the kids. They made sure their children could read, because, unlike now, poverty didn’t make people illiterate in those far-off days. If you couldn’t afford books, you brought your kids to the free public library, you brought books home and you encouraged your children to read. Poverty didn’t cause truancy either in those distant days. The same parents sent their children to school every day because they wanted them to do well in life.

The glib phrase, poor parenting skills, is part of this new bland language we all have to speak in the new PC world where nobody is ever to blame for anything. Priest-speak. Social-worker-speak. It’s the blame-free way to describe people who don’t give a fuck about their kids, let them run wild and have no ambitions to see them do well. And guess what that leads to? Yep. Truancy. Illiteracy. Acute poverty. Crime. And all the rest that follows, as Father Pat might say.

And when you have complete bastards such as the well-known family terrorising all of Father Pat’s downtrodden parish, it isn’t about poverty. It’s about genetics.

19 thoughts on “Chicken or Egg?

  1. its the same in England.
    Glib answers…nobody wants to look any deeper……..if it wasnt Priests it would be other “experts” on the sideline.’Tis Wrong.All we get is soundbites

  2. Very well put. I am amazed, sometimes angered, when I see kids running amok in public. Sometimes I wish there were licenses to be obtained and classes to take before being allowed to breed, sometimes.

  3. “…nobody is ever to blame for anything. Priest-speak.”

    Ah. Well. ? No, see I’m all confused now. The modern priests are saying you don’t need to be feeling guilty all the time? Nobody is to blame? For anything? I don’t get it. What’s the point of the Catholic church if there’s nothing to feel guilty about? Are they even taking confessions any more?

    But you know, in the wake of recent scandals in the church, the “blame is such a harsh word” line of argument might be the only one they’ve got.

    I’m sure the priest means well but God preserve us from the well-meaning, as they say.

  4. I see this every single day on my estate. The little girl next door (she was eight near the end of last year some time) called her mother a cunt last week while I was out doing the decking. Her mother’s reaction? Laughter.

  5. I think it’s that failures at life are more likely to be poor, rather than poor people are more likely to be failures at life.

    Besides, some of the wildest nimrods I know are middle-class. My mate is a teacher, and she had the greatest problems at a nice country school, because the parents spoiled their bairns rotten and were completely unable to bring themselves to give out to them.

  6. Have you heard the one that, ‘it takes two to make a child and a village to bring it up’. The parents in these areas are as loving and as hopeful as any. But what a village, an area designed with prejudice to act as the Irish equivalent of a concentration camp. NO shops or much of anything else. Shops as enterprise not just as places to buy things. Why, because these areas were not zoned for business. Again why, because entrenched interests in the center of the towns made bloody certain it was so. Ditto, with all the new estates popping up. Regardless of the training of the planners, the local interests within the council chamber has them by the short and twisted ones.
    Terror, a terror so gut twisting when a bill lands on the mat. When was the last time you felt that emotion. The nearest you get to the life of these people is when at twenty, your girl reports she might be up the duff.
    The drug dealers frighten them, but its a different group of bastards that systematically and thoughtlessly terrorize them. It is todays version of Letterfrack or the laundries.

  7. Decent people look after their children, money or no money. It costs them nothing to tell a child right from wrong. They might be short of money, but they still do their best for the kids.

    Thank youuuuu! I am so dirt poor I’d have to put fries on lay-away, but my teenager’s an Honor Student, and will be getting scholarships to college, besides being extremely well-behaved. My pre-schooler’s possessed, but that’s another story. Being poor is one thing, and raising your kids decently is another. You can be poor without falling under the spell of addiction, stupidity, and crime.

    By the way, have you read “Freakonomics”? Especially the part where it links the downward trend of crime in the US to abortion being made legal? Maybe Father Pat should have a read.

  8. Mr Bock

    The loons in charge of Britain have come up with a notion of poverty (described here by the thoughtful Mr Deogolwulf) which sets in stone the notion that somebody else will always be to blame.

    Here your analysis would be regarded as so right-wing and outrageous that you would be labelled a Nazi: the villagers would gather outside your home with blazing torches and pitchforks (like in Frankenstein) and burn you out.

  9. Tony: I don’t know much about the situation in Britain, but it seems to be run by social workers.

    Brian: You can’t say that. Somebody might be offended, which would be terrible.

    Sam: Well, I suppose he’d be part of the Kumbaya wing of the priesthood.

    Kav: Exactly so.

    Sweary: Precisely. There are rich knobheads and poor knobheads.

    Turbatur: Please read the post before commenting. It’s always better that way.

    Fat Sparrow: That’s the one thing poverty leads to. Possession. Or is it repossession?

    Mr Warmington: Down with consequences!

  10. Yes, I did read the post before the comment. And you will have knobheads in all classes. While foolish if well intentioned people will spout rubbish. And most of your friends parents left school after primary, so did 90% of the population.But you will have noticed that no longer holds. What was primary cert will very soon be post grad. And glib phrases are in fashion at the moment.
    But in a place where the entire ethos is one of hopelessness there is little the parents can do to counteract the influences of the estate. ‘Where no one is to blame for anything’, you wrote, it sure as hell is not the parents fault. It’s chicken or egg up to now because it was kept so, form now on we will see.

  11. You obviously didn’t read the post. In fact, you clearly missed the entire point of what it was about.

  12. I’m fascinated by all of this. Please clarify for turbator (and me)where he’s missing the point rather than using the tone you do. I truly enjoy your musings whether I agree with you or not but you’re sounding tetchy now.

  13. It’s the generalisation that gets to me; an empty statement that has no thought or even true opinion behind it. He even forgot to highlight the other area poverty-stricken parents apparently fail in: feeding their children decent food (I guess this falls under general parenting skills). And yet I have noticed in Limerick, at least, the few surviving fruit & veg shops are located in or near these troubled areas. Looks like someone learned to boil a spud.

  14. I wouldn’t normally ever be a defender of the clergy, but the man is right. It’s a bit general but do a bit of research and see if he’s as wrong as you think. I think you’re talking about a minority in these deprived areas who are vicious criminals using fear and intimidation as very effective weapons to control and terrorise others. These people exist in every strata of society but thrive in the less well off areas. Why would you say that is?It’s getting worse as crime and being hard are seen as perhaps the only way of earning respect, status, self esteem. Going to jail is a bagde of honour, a rite of passage. Is it totally fucked up? Yes it is. It’s also not so prevalent in so called nice areas.

    Genetics you said. Say more.

  15. Guys, listen. I’ll make it very simple.

    Point number one: The priest is wrong. Shortage of money doesn’t make anyone a bad parent.

    Point number two: In that priest’s area, there’s one particular fucked-up family who are terrorising everyone. They are bad to the bone.

    Now that’s all I’m going to say. If the post was too complicated for you, there’s nothing I can do about it.

  16. Bock, you disappoint me. Too complicated for me? Really? I disagree with you so I’m stupid?

    He didn’t say being poor makes you a bad parent – was his message too complicated for you?

    The one fucked up family in his area are not the reason there are problems there. They do make it worse yes.

    I understand what you’re saying but am dismayed by your insistence on ignoring so many other factors.

    I understand your frustration but you’re ignoring so much in your desire to jeer the priest and be annoyed at people who don’t share your (or my) values.

    I asked you to say more as I wanted to hear more, not because I don’t get it. No need to be an arse.
    That’s all I’m going to say.

  17. Here’s what the priest said:

    Where you have acute income poverty, you have poor literacy, truancy, poor parenting skills and all the rest that follows.

    Let’s parse and analyse it. We’ll break it into its constituent sub-clauses.

    Where you have acute income poverty, you have

    1. poor literacy
    2. truancy
    3. poor parenting skills, and
    4. all the rest that follows.

    He did say being poor makes you a bad parent.

    It’s not me ignoring other factors. It’s people like this priest with their simplistic little solutions to big problems.

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