I don't understand why some parents neglect their children

By Anh Pham   March 4, 2024 | 10:22 pm PT
I don't understand why some parents neglect their children
A child sits on a floor. Photo by AFP
My family has a couple in their 30s. They have a 10-year-old son who is in 4th grade, their only child, and they have left him in the care of his maternal grandparents since he was young.

There's no significant reason to justify why the boy had to live with his grandparents. The parents do not work abroad, they do not work far from home, and their house is in the city and only about 30 km away from the grandparents' house. And despite everything, the couple rarely visits their son, leaving everything, from his meals to his education, to the grandparents. The grandparents, meanwhile, are not educated. The grandmother is illiterate and is known for being harsh, sometimes resorting to excessive violence to punish the child.

In such a living environment, the boy suffers much misfortune. This year, he turned 11, but he only gets to eat cold rice with instant noodles, occasionally some sausages provided by his grandparents. He has never known the taste of pork, chicken, or fish.

When people talk about it, the grandmother or the child's parents often say: "He doesn't like it, so we don’t force him to eat. We leave him be." Because he has been away from his parents for so long and in such a negative environment, he has become very lonely, rarely playing with anyone, and spending all day watching YouTube, always looking sad.

I know his mother has to work from morning till night, while his father has much time on his hands. So I messaged the child's father, suggesting that since they only have one child and he is still young, he needs his parents. Yet, they let him be, raised by the grandparents in such a negative environment. I asked them why they do not take their child back to raise him themselves.

The father replied to my message, essentially saying: "It's our family's business."

Another case I know involves a mother with two young children. She divorced her husband because she did not love him. Most notably, she left her children with the father, who is addicted to gambling and does not have a stable job.

My neighbors who are in their 30s leave their child to the grandparents in similar situations.

These children I mentioned live a very disadvantaged lives. It's hard to say if they will have a bright future. The reason is their irresponsible parents. Besides those in unavoidable circumstances, like working abroad or too far away from their kids, there are still many parents who willfully neglect their children, leaving them in the care of relatives, even when they could feasibly take steps to raise them themselves.

Parents who give birth to their children but do not take care of them should be dealt with strictly. As I understand it, in Vietnam, if a minor commits an offense, the parents must compensate victims financially, but are otherwise not criminally prosecuted.

Recently, I’ve learned that in the U.S., there was a case where a minor violated the law and their parents had to bear joint responsibility as well. I think we should learn from this. Children need to be loved and respected. They need to live in unconditional love, even in the most challenging situations.

Once someone decides to have children, there is a responsibility to nurture them until they reach adulthood. Criminally prosecuting parents of minors who violate the law is an effective deterrence against irresponsible parents. This strict approach, though harsh, could alleviate the tragic aforementioned circumstances.

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