There’s an ongoing story making its way in and out of the news that made me laugh and cringe at the same time.
There’s an ongoing story making its way in and out of the news that made me laugh and cringe at the same time. A teenage girl is suing her parents.
She couldn’t accept their rules involving curfews and associations so moved out. Now she’s asking the court to award her parental support for living and educational expenses.
I laughed because that’s so far removed from any reality I lived, seeming more of a cartoon than serious issue. I cringed because I’m amazed something like this was actually litigated by a licensed attorney. Justice possibly shed a tear behind her blindfold.
I tried unsuccessfully to imagine any similar confrontation I could’ve or would’ve had with my parents. The contrasts of my frames of reference with today’s society are unbelievably stark and sobering.
Somewhere along the past six decades one most important skill about how to parent and how to teach has been abandoned.
I used to think raising kids came naturally. I also believed teachers were a natural extension and complement of the parenting process.
I’ve figured out my childhood wasn’t an automatic progression but rather a defined route laid out in my home and schools. Back then, they got it very right.
My parents would’ve never allowed me to freak myself up with piercings and tattoos so I wouldn’t be able to get meaningful work. I can’t imagine why any parent prepares children for unemployment lines?
Yet I constantly run into mothers with freaky kids in tow, apparently oblivious to the creatures they’ve grown. Inside them I’m sure great kids lurk, but outside they’re idiots.
It’s not all that complicated. Raising and teaching is a step-by-step process. There are directions. The very first step is getting their attention. The rest flows from that.
It’s this first step that has all but disappeared over the past half century. I have no idea why. My parents had no trouble getting my attention.
Teachers used to be very good at it. I’ve had a few school principals that really excelled in that department.
Today, millions of children “suffer” from attention deficit disorder. In my old-fashioned opinion, kids have the deficiency because few demands are made for their attention. Parents and school systems are the ones with the “disorder.”
My parents had little trouble keeping me within behavioral parameters. Had I ever walked into my house with an earring in my ear, I would still be missing the lobe. I don’t want to think about how Dad would’ve removed a tattoo.
The only time I “rebelled” cosmetically was my first year of college. One spring weekend I came home with very weird hair. I’d doused it with peroxide with the intent of becoming Troy Donahue blond for the summer. It turned out baby-diaper red. Dad didn’t use that description but I have editors to get past.
He was furious. He said if I ever did that again he’d saw my end of our kitchen table off and fling it into the front yard.
No food? He definitely got my attention.
Otis Gardner’s column appears weekly. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.