Oprah says one passage of Come On People speaks to the importance mentors can have on kids. "Low expectations coming from a teacher can cause a child to fail," she reads. "But coming from a parent, low expectations can crush the soul."
High expectations must begin early, Dr. Poussaint says. "You can see it on the street [with parents saying], 'You're stupid. You're an idiot.' So even before [kids] get to school, many of them are damaged in the way they think about themselves," he says. "Parents from the very beginning have to respect and care and nurture their children and not do bad things for them."
Studies illustrate the lasting harm parents' actions have on their kids. "A lot of the inmates in jail, particularly for violent crimes have been victims of child abuse themselves," he says. "Violence begets violence in the home."
Bill says he has a friend who thinks parents can keep track of their kids by adopting the "shake down" philosophy used by prison guards. "He talks to his congregation, telling parents why they don't have to knock on a door—a bedroom door—of a child, and say, 'May I come in?'" Bill says. "Why? Because you don't pay any rent. This is not your place."
Parents need to know all about what their children are doing—they should look under beds, monitor Internet usage, know who their friends are, Bill says. "We have parents who don't know what subjects the children are taking, who don't know when the test is coming, who don't know if they're finished, don't know the grades," he says. "We must know."