Are You a ‘Ghetto Parent’?

July 19, 2010  |  

According to Chicago Sun-Times columnist Mary Mitchell, you might be a “ghetto parent” if you:

  • Curse around, and at, a child.
  • Brawl with your man or woman in front of your child.
  • Let your child roam the streets until somebody else’s mother has to tell the child to go home.
  • Put your child off on friends and relatives because you want to hang out in the street.
  • Get so hooked on substances that Family Services has to remove your children and place them with strangers.

An African-American herself, Mitchell coined the phrase a few weeks ago in her article “Ghetto Parenting Dooms Kids,” a heartbreaking and far too common story. In 1994, a young man from Chicago named Derrick Lemon witnessed his baby brother being thrown out of a 14th floor apartment building. Fast forward 16 years and Lemon has been found guilty of killing his aunt’s boyfriend. The details of Lemon’s life and the extremely bad parenting exhibited by his mother, Toni Morse, can be read in more detail here.

While Mitchell uses Lemon’s story as an example of how a “victim of ghetto parenting can turn out,” it’s the phrase “ghetto parenting” that everyone from the New York Times to Babble and My Brown Baby is talking about. Mitchell says she knew that people would be offended by her choice of words and followed up with “C’Mon, You Know Ghetto When You See It” in which she sites Britney Spears as the most high-profile example of a “ghetto parent.”

Some critics are saying that Mitchell is racializing bad parenting and making it a black thing. But Mitchell says that she never made “ghetto” apply to an ethnic group in the original column, and says you do not have to be poor or black or Hispanic or anything else to fit her description. I agree that bad parents come in every race, color, creed, gender, economic and religious background.

We use the word ghetto to describe outfits, personalities, habits, and now, parenting skills…is the term OK to use? How many times have you been a “ghetto parent” (according to Mitchell’s list) and cursed in front of your kids? Are people being too sensitive when it comes to “ghetto”?

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  • LadyJ316

    @Knowledge of Self – You do know that this blog caters to the African American demographic right? So why get on here and intellectualize the conversations that black folks have amongst each other? Ghetto in this instance can apply to a poor section of a city inhabited primarily by people of the same race and/or social background. It should be socially unacceptable to allow your 9 year old to hang out on the corner at 11:00pm but we see that type of neglect in ghetto's all the time. If you're from a long line of welfare recipients and you have a case worker assigned to your life, you need to get yourself together. Mary Mitchell is right and she called a spade a spade.

  • Mimi

    I don't find the term "ghetto parenting" offensive and for the people who are offended, I think using that anger as motivation to do something positive.

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  • shalonndramarie

    Well if the shoe fits wear it. I can give way more terrible examples of Ghetto Parenting that will really send some people reeling.I live in a apartment complex where she can get all the research she needs. I have to live here because I fell on hard times and it's something that sometimes you may have to experience.Anyways I have alway's used the way other races look at my race and prejudged us when it came to how we live and race our children, as well as how we run our households,It motivates me everyday to never let my guard down when it came to my children. I make sure my children know they have alot going on for them, because it's up to me to keep all thing's around them that I can control,positive,up to date,informational,and full of optimism. So if you truly got offended, maybe you should step back and take a look at yourselves,you know they alway's have said the truth hurts,but it can also set you free. PEACE

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  • Anndrea

    It's about time somebody put the right tag on bad parenting skills… If you don't like it, take a parenting class!