Some people’s kids S
Most people would agree that before people offer opinions, they should have some knowledge of that particular topic. By the same token, most would assume that those of us who work in the media should have some personal experience, or at least to have done some research, on a particular subject to back up our published convictions.
In other words, we should have some idea what we are talking about.
I’ve never bought into that nonsense.
This column is about child rearing.
I have no children. I know absolutely nothing of the love and sacrifice required in raising a little yard-monkey from the time between drooling and diploma.
Long before my mate and I married, we decided not to reproduce. We felt that bringing a child into a world as crowded, uncertain and ecologically depleted as ours would be ill-advised – that and children are very expensive and messy.
We have many friends more mature and less selfish than us who have bred or adopted. It might be coincidence, or perhaps symptomatic of the times, but it seems like many of our friends are having trouble with their kids.
By trouble, I mean that their children are behaving like their parents did when they were young – only worse. The symptoms seem to be drinking, taking drugs, lying, cheating and a taking a blossoming interest in the human body – theirs and others’. I can feel their parents’ pain.
Though I know nothing of parenting, I do have a fair amount of experience in bad behavior. I was a poorly behaved child, adolescent and young man. Luckily for my parents, their attention was too spread out among the raising of six kids and working two jobs to be aware what hellions their children really were.
It’s not that they were inattentive – they were just busy. When they did stumble on one of us acting up, they would take the proper steps – and hit us.
Teachers, cops and clergy of my generation, who were also authorized to investigate and discipline, aided parents of yore. Not once in my life did either of my parents ever take my side in a conflict with any figure of authority. The assumption was that if a teacher, priest, coach or adult neighbor said I misbehaved, they were believed – as well they should have been.
Hillary Clinton wrote, “It Takes a Village to Raise a Child” (as well as to sexually satisfy her husband). Perhaps that was how it worked 40 years ago, but I don’t think it is the case today. In today’s times, authority figures are often afraid to tell parents that their kid’s a jerk for fear the parents would sue them.
When I observe the bad behavior of my friends’ children, it pales when compared to the stuff I did. The difference seems to be that they seldom are punished suitably when caught. When I was a punk, there was a sense of repercussions that went part and parcel with breaking the rules.
An aspiring juvenile delinquent would make a judicious choice if the joys of crime were worth the pains of penance.
Until recently, children were sometimes physically disciplined. We were occasionally spanked by parents, whacked by teachers, roughed up by older siblings and slapped around by the bigger kids. For me, the lessons long outlived the bruises.
I learned as a preteen that life was both a matter of “right and wrong” and “might makes right.”
Children used to spend much of their lives unsupervised and were, therefore, forced to work out personal conflicts. As a kid, I’d head to the local park nearly every day to participate in pick-up games of sports and rock fights.
The day-to-day social dynamics gleaned from my playground encounters were a valuable lesson carried over to adulthood. Today, children are seldom without adult supervision, which, I suppose, keeps things orderly – but it is not necessary a realistic preparation for life.
I think children today, when compared to kids of yore, are both better and worse. The good kids are much more mature, experienced, worldly and wise, and the bad kids are playing for much greater stakes than we ever did.
My guess is, this is because of more available information, enlightened parenting and education as well as a more permissive society. I’ve met children and teens from our community who have a sense of sophistication, awareness and confidence well beyond their years.
I’ve also met some who should be sent to boot camp.
I have nothing but sympathy and respect for the parents dealing with the emotional ebb and flow that comes with trying to understand the seemingly random thoughts and behavior processes of their progeny.
I can only imagine the day-to-day hours and energy that go into loving, nurturing, and raising a child. They have my respect and good wishes. In the meantime, I have about six hours to kill – I think I’ll go for a bike ride S
Jeffrey Bergeron, under the alias of “Biff America” can be seen on RSN television, heard on KOA radio, and read in several mountain publications. He lives in Breckenridge. He may not have any kids, but he’s always pregnant with thought.
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