Jenny never knew her father, and her mother was never home. When her mom was present, parenting Jenny was not a priority.
Without supervision and parental support, she became sexually active early, and by the time she was 14, she discovered she was pregnant. She’s now 20 years old and has four children by four different men. Three of the fathers are incarcerated, and the other was shot and killed. None of them were involved in their children’s lives anyway. Jenny’s newest “man” is abusive, but with her self-esteem shot years ago, Jenny deals with the abuse because she feels like she can’t do any better.
Rodney Dale is a firefighter for the Elkhart Fire Department and is a native of the town. In his community blog
for The Elkhart Truth, Dale will share his musings on issues affecting the community.
As Jenny sits alone in her apartment, having given all of her food stamps and her welfare check to her boyfriend, the reality of trying to feed and clothe the children sets in. She knows she can’t do it and mostly doesn’t care, so she does to her children what her mom did to her. Jenny ignores them. Now there are three boys and one girl growing up in the same manner that Jenny did – basically raising themselves. The boys are destined to be like their fathers, and the girl will be the next Jenny.
As a society, we can call Jenny many names such as victim, unfortunate, irresponsible, emotionless or poor, but what we can’t call her thus far is “helped.” At some point the village that used to help raise everybody’s children will have to step in and do some positive things. Otherwise, this cycle that keeps poverty alive will never stop. This story is only fictional in the use of the name “Jenny,” but people like her are all over the United State,s and plenty of them are right here in Elkhart.
Let’s all step up to the plate, quit complaining and pick out a few children to mentor, including Jenny. Let’s look after them so the next generation will have a chance.