We got a call from the Children Raised by Wolves' mother. She asked Fellow Traveler to co-sign a yearly lease for a house. FT said, sensibly, sorry but no. The mom started crying over the phone.
It is so hard to help these people; whenever we do, they up the ante. But we know enough about their robbing-Peter-to-pay-Paul financial m.o. to know that entering into any kind of contract with them is a Very Bad Idea. And this is the family that won't consider public housing because then they'd have to give up their junked cars, pack of mangy-curs-on-chains and rabbit hutch: "The rabbits are fun."
I have a friend who, through her church work, got involved with a similarly dysfunctional household. Soon she was being called in the middle of the night with requests like, "So-and-So is in jail. Can you go and bail her out?" She'd schedule doctors' appointments for the pregnant unwed daughter only to have the daughter refuse to comply with the healthcare provider. She'd arrange for the family matriarch to get hooked up with this or that social service, only to have the woman fail to show up for appointments or turn in paperwork. After many months of this, my friend was becoming physically ill, anxious and filled with guilt over somehow "not doing enough" for these people. "Whenever I say I'm done with them, I think, 'What would Jesus do?'" she said, tears in her eyes.
Maybe I'm just channeling the values of my hardworking blue-collar parents, but I can't help but think that at some point Jesus would tell immature, deadbeat parents to look for work, and pursue social services for which they're qualified, with the same energy that they look for excuses; and to make their children, rather than their own comfort and whim, the family priority. Our community is filled with disabled people who nonetheless get up every day and go to a job, as well as with poor families whose family priority is giving their children an opportunity for a better life than theirs.
FT has more opportunity to interact with the neighbors than I do, and has on more than one occasion told them rather bluntly that they need to pull it together for the sake of the kids. We're told that visiting family members have also warned them that they need to start taking responsibility for their lives.
When you think about poverty on a macro level, and wonder how one fights that as a society...how can society even fight it on the household level, when the household won't cooperate? How do you warn people about the consequences of their continued behaviors when "consequences" as a concept holds no meaning for them; when they see themselves as utterly passive objects to whom things simply "happen"?