We make people fill out applications for everything under the sun. School. Jobs. Apartments. Cars. Credit cards. Society places such high value on this imaginary money that we pass around that you can actually be denied credit cards or bank accounts if you have been proven to be irresponsible with it. If you are not qualified, you cannot attend college, get certain jobs, drive certain cars, or live in certain apartments. How completely ass backwards is it that we allow anyone to have a child without first checking that they are qualified mentally and emotionally?

Let me be clear, I’m not advocating that we turn control of our reproductive bodies over to the government or our neighbors. I’m just saying that perhaps there ought to be some kind of system in place to make sure that people understand exactly what they are getting into when they have a child.

At the root of the issue is that we have damaged parents raising damaged children who in turn become damaged parents to damaged children. That damage may manifest itself in several ways, ranging from irresponsibility and apathy to malignancy and lunacy. It’s a sad cycle that plagues society on whole, not just one community. Every day there’s a different story on the news about a child being neglected, abused, or even killed by the very people that should be protecting them. Yes, lock the parents away but what about all of the stories we don’t hear?

What about the kids who endure more subtle damage from their parents, the kids that are emotionally and verbally abused? How do you spot the type of abuse that doesn’t leave scars or break bones but is no less tragic? And once you spot it, how do you prevent it? More importantly how do we stop children from internalizing and repeating this abusive behavior? We inherit everything from eye color, dimples and hair texture to hand clasping, taste buds and handedness from our parents. We also inherit or mimic their financial, emotional and even spiritual behaviors. How can we ever expect to raise a generation of whole, well-adjusted children if they are raised by broken parents?

It’s backward that adoptive parents have to go through such an extensive vetting process but birth parents are given little to no instruction on how to raise a child. When a woman shows up pregnant at a clinic, doctors will give her vitamins and maybe a pamphlet that explains the pregnancy but not the actual child rearing. Then she’s sent home and we all assume that she has the child’s best interests at heart. That isn’t enough. Where is the social worker that goes to her home to make sure it’s an environment suited for a child? Where’s the psychologist that evaluates her mental and emotional preparedness? Why are we sending babies home with monsters every day?

I know that we can’t prevent such terrible things from happening to children. It would be nice to make parenting classes mandatory, in the same way that we make schooling mandatory. Maybe we should require all parents to sit through a couple sessions with a psychologist. We should definitely make all parents take a course in anger management.

I know that it’s a battle we’re destined to lose but can’t we try?