Parenting

Rotten Parenting

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Most of our problems as a society come down to rotten parenting or no parenting.  Matt Walsh at his blog provides a prime example courtesy of “Nick”:

 

Matt, I heard your horrible conversation today about parenting. A few comments in response:

1) Based on your remarks, I have to say I feel bad for your kids. You sound like the sort of person who never should have been a parent. You said you plain to teach your kids “how to think.” I guess this is common in right wing religious fundamentalist households. Personally, I let my child form his own conclusions about things. To impose your views on a child is tantamount to child abuse. Do them a favor, let them think FREELY.

2) You greatly exaggerate the importance of “chores.” Also, the idea that a kid should be forced to “get a job” is abhorrent. My son was very gifted so we  gave him all the tools to succeed academically. This meant we didn’t turn him into slave labor and we certainly didn’t tell him he needed to go work behind a cash register. He concentrated on his school work, and we did our job as parents and financially supported him.

3) It’s easy to mock a “30 year old who lives with is parents.” My son is almost 29 and he’s been home with us since he graduated. Unfortunately the job market isn’t the greatest (maybe you hadn’t heard) and I’m not going to let him starve on the street. He has a college education, it’s pointless for him to be out working in a retail store or some other menial job. I will be here for him until he is able to get the job he deserves.

You need to grow up, get some life experiences and then maybe you’ll have the right to sermonize about parenting.

-Nick”

Yeah I really loved the comment about “menial job”.  The type of job I suppose that my factory worker parents had which put clothes on my back, a roof over my head and food in my belly, for which I am eternally grateful to them.  Somehow they also had the energy after an exhausting day at work to make certain that my brother and I grew up with an appreciation both for learning and hard work.  My brother and I did plenty of “menial jobs” along the way, including baling hay, detasseling  corn, working in cafeterias, working in factories, tarring roofs, washing dishes, scrubbing floors, cleaning out sewers, serving in the Green Machine, etc, and I think we probably learned more from those jobs than anything we learned in college.  Anyone who sneers at  “menial jobs” or the people who perform them has an instant enemy in me.  Here is Matt’s response: Continue reading

Sometimes I Feel Like Sarah Connor

I have to remind myself sometimes to refrain from immersion in current events, politics, and social issues because I swell up with machine-like resolve and start thinking of myself as a Sarah Connor, the fictional mom in the Terminator films who transformed from a timid victim to a hardened warrior on the verge of losing touch with her own humanity. She knew Judgement Day was coming, and her son would have to fight evil mightily. She knew she had to prepare and protect him.

I don’t think I’m the only mom that conjures up such an image. We lay awake at night wondering what kind of battles our children will face as adults. Will they lose faith? Will they be hurt? Will they be warriors? Will they be martyrs? Will they be ready? Are we doing enough to take a stand as Catholics? No kidding, there are nights when I feel compelled to rise and do chin-ups on the door frame to flex some muscle (though I’d faint after three).

I have learned, instead, to pray. As awful as I may think some current events are, this world still belongs to God. If I believe that Christ healed the sick, commanded demons, and died and rose for the salvation of souls, then in faith I need to guard against despair and overwhelming ferocity. Remember what the centurion in Capernaum said to Jesus when he wanted his servant to be healed? He had great faith. “Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof; only say the word and my servant will be healed.” He also had humility. That last part reminds me of St. Francis’ advice, “Sanctify yourself and you will sanctify society.”

Surely in some ways we do need to become a legend among the resistance, to warn that humanity is doomed to self-destruction if they don’t listen, and to store up a proverbial cache of weapons for our children if there is a rise of the machines; but mostly what we need to do is to accept the graces and abundances offered now in this time of our own lives. We do need to fight, but we can’t let ourselves become so steeled we forget we are human.

Even so, I wouldn’t mind having her deltoids, and I admit I rather like imagining myself standing strong with a steady gaze across the landscape as I prepare to defend and inspire my children, but without the cigarette and Commando rifle.

Talking About Sinful Lifestyles With Children

Eric Brown wrote a post about the question of whether children of same-sex-couples should be allowed in Catholic schools the other day, which generated some interesting conversation. One of the problems that lies at the root of this controversy, I think, is the question of how to deal sinful lifestyles when talking to your children.

Obviously, one of the duties of a conscientious Catholic parents is to successfully pass on to their children belief in Catholic moral teaching. We believe, after all, that living according to the Church’s moral teachings is key to both the happiness and salvation of our children, and both of these are things we ought to care about a good bit.

This much, at least, is widely agreed upon. Why, however, should that be a reason not to want your children exposed to the children of a same-sex-couple? Isn’t that simply a great chance to talk about the Church’s teachings about marriage and sexual morality?

Frankly, I (and I think many other Catholic parents) would rather not have to rush that one. Why?

Both thinking back to my own childhood and also about my children (currently ages 8 through 1.5) one of the things that stands out to me very clearly is that children are naturally dualistic. There’s a reason why the fairy tale is a genre so enjoyed by children — children like clear heroes and villains. The adult my be interested in why it is that the wicked witch became wicked, and whether she really thought she was wicked, but to a child, the fact that she is wicked is all they need. Heroes do good things, villains to bad things, and children under the age of 10-12 have a great deal of difficulty seeing people in between.
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Helicopter Parents Armed With Internet

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From the only reliable source of news on the net, the Onion.  My oldest son goes off to college next year.  I will do my level best to remember how glad I was when I was 18 to be living on my own at college, and to also recall the difference between sage parental advice, and a futile attempt at parental long distance control.

Expect to be Offended

My wife subscribes to the local Catholic homeschooler email list, and although I don’t usually dip into the innumerable messages that pour in (most of them more lifestyle and education focused, so far as I can tell) I occasionally read a thread that catches my eye.

This week there’s been much discussion of an Envoy magazine article about how a mother took her twelve-year-old in for a check up and was shocked and angered when the doctor asked if he could speak to the girl privately for a few minutes, and during the course of that asked the girl if she was sexually active and if she needed a prescription for birth control. The moms on the list exchanged similar stories, and were indignant not only that birth control was offered but that their teenagers were routinely asked if they did drugs, had sex, etc. Why, everyone wanted to know, would any reasonable doctor ask to speak to a teenager alone about these topics? Surely a mother should always know everything there is to know about these topics.

Needless to say, I’m not crazy about the idea of my three daughters being offered birth control and quizzed about their experiences when they become teenagers.

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