Lost children

DQ and Bookworm have started something here, between their recent posts on “thoughts for the day” and how to instill values in children.

I look at so many of the really nice kids that I meet in our neighborhood and in our church and they are, to put it simply, utterly, totally, hopelessly lost! Many of them have college degrees and still have no idea of what they want to do. They have no idea of how the world works. They are college graduates and they live at home. They wait for someone to help guide them (i.e., parents). Many of them are hopelessly in debt. I would have to conclude that our generation’s parents have failed them.

In a parenting seminar at our church, I mentioned that my wife and I often played “good cop, bad cop” roles, but that we always had each others’ back when it came to disciplining our children. One (really top-drawer) mother raising three really great kids piped up, “Why do I always have to be the bad cop? My husband is such a pushover”.

Recently, I asked my 20-something son, an already highly decorated soldier, why he thought that so many of his peers were in such straits. He thought about it and said, “because everything was just given to them”. Is that the whole story?

So, those of you with experience with kids as mentors or parents, what would your advice be to parents today, so that their children don’t end up so lost.

Let me start if off: tell your children that nobody owes them anything. Everything good that they enjoy in life is a gift.

Over to you…

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  • http://www.jamesgraham.bz JamesG

    In fourth paragraph you mean “in such straits.” Delete after fixing. (I hate playing a no-it-all.) (Yes “no” is intentional.) 

  • http://photoncourier.blogspot.com David Foster

    A civilization is built on what is required of men, not on that which is provided for them.


    If you would have them be brothers, have them build a tower. But if you would have them hate each other, throw them corn 

    Both quotes from Antoine de St-Exupery


  • expat

    My husband and I were talking today about how many young people no longer have the connection to their extended families that we had. Their activities with a narrow group of like-minded friends come before family get-togethers. They miss sharing multigenerational experiences about how one copes in life and how different people can choose very different paths and still have a fulfilling life. Today they are told they must go to college, but they don’t really know why. They assume they will land a white collar job that should land them a good paycheck. They don’t see how young couple sometimes have to skimp when the kids arrive or how families help out when granny needs a new appliance or house repair. Even the singles they see on sitcoms live in reasonably decorated apartments, which is a far cry from the sewing and painting and renovating used furniture that I had to do to make my quarters comfortable.
    They simply aren’t prepared for anything excpt the cushioned life they have always had.

  • http://OgBlog.net Earl

    That’s a good one, expat.  I grew up in the same town with one set of grands….and two hours from Grandmom on the other side.  Helpful.  My kids were 90 minutes from my folks, and Mom took them for a long weekend once/month for years and years.  Very nice.
    We started our kids out early with the message that it was “our” home, that they were beloved guests, and that when they finished school, they would get a job and move out…or pay rent.  They shared tuition (no public school), they shared increased cost of insurance when they started driving, they got a small allowance and a clothes budget, and they worked for anything else.
    Both my kids were out of the house and off the payroll as soon as they graduated college.  They have always worked, sometimes menial and “degrading” jobs, they’ve never been in jail and they have always earned their way.  I don’t agree with them on any number of things (my boy thinks England’s NHS is wonderful as only one example), but I’m immensely proud of them both.
    We raised two good people.

  • Caped Crusader

    There’s a lot to be said for the draft for it certainly keep all the young men focused as to their responsibility when they reached the age of 18. Born 1934, small child of the depression, older child or WWll, teen and young adult of Korean “conflict” (first war Dems decided not to win; just kill off and maim our young men). The world and it’s problems were “real” and involved you whether you liked it or not. Young men had no option but to “grow up” for you were headed to armed forces at 18 if no college, and 22 if in college. You “found yourself” and completed college in 4 years, or you found yourself in some place such as Yang Dang Po; no taking 6 years for college or grad school deferments except for medical school, which placed you under the “doctor draft law” and eligible for call up as long as they needed you in reality. But usually 2 years unless another conflict erupted. Brother you grew up fast and learned the world was a dangerous place and you had a role in the drama whether you liked it or not.
    Young folks today have this option and it is the path of least resistance, which is always easiest, and requires the least discomfort and hard decision making. If you HAVE to grow up you usually will. The “Old Man” (pilot) in a WWll B17 averaged 22 years old and was responsible for 10 lives and a situation where 78% would not live to complete 25 missions. These guys were not coming back home to live forever with mommy and daddy.

  • jj

    I have thought for years that our generation was – where they were well-raised – the last well-raised generation.  When it came to being the parents, however, we have proven to be something beyond pathetic  – and our children have turned out to be even worse.  I was reminded of this yesterday during a visit to DDG-97, USS Halsey, in Seattle.  By halfway through the tour most of the adults had telepathically agreed that there were three kids who, if we got a chance, we were going to do the world a favor and drown.  The idiot mother of two of them was gone too, if the opportunity arose.

    I don’t know what it is, but it’s not as simple as someone having had everything given to them.  I can tell you I have known a lot of folks who had everything given to them – and their “everything” was in some cases a hell of a lot more than most folks can imagine – but that didn’t prevent them from working as hard or harder than most of those around them.  One, whose grandfather may or may not have been the subject of an Orson Welles movie, broke his behind every night working longer and harder than any of the rest of us to remain the undisputed #1 in our class, and he had absolutely zero need to do that.  Willie’s life was assured at the instant of birth, and if he’d wanted his own 747 he could have had it.  So it wasn’t about being given stuff, it was about something else, having something else, some other value somehow put in place.  The president of the NBC network didn’t need to be in that job – or any other job, either.  His job could have been lying on the beach ordering serial mai tais, and he could have afforded to have them delivered by naked waitresses if he wanted; it would have made no difference to the life into which he was born.  But he chose to work, and he was damned good at what he did.

    So my observation is that it’s something more complex than simply spending your early years on the receiving end.  That’s probably ruinous to a lot of people, but it can obviously be worked around.  It’s an attitude.  I know most people have their kids believing that they’re something special in the early years – which they shouldn’t, because they’re not, and the sooner they find it out the better for them.  You somehow have to explain to your kid that while he may be special, that’s to you; the rest of the world is unlikely to even notice him enough to be aware he’s there, let alone think the world revolves around him. 

    I regret the end of the draft.  It was a useful thing, whose usefulness went well beyond the obvious military.  It helped make Americans American, gave us a feeling that we’re all in this together, and everybody owes a little something.  Everybody contributes, we all share something.  And of course there was nothing better for making quite plain to kids that there was nothing special about them, and if they wanted something they had to work for it just like everybody else.  No privileged characters in the military, the army was really good at making it clear that nobody owed anybody anything.  It sometimes seems a shame we let that go.

    We have a friend who has a daughter living in Santa Monica with her boyfriend.  He’s a nice kid, from a wealthy – and connected – family in Chicago.  He’s been addicted to everything except, probably, heroin – but anything else you can smoke, snort, or shoot is all grist to the mill.  And he consumes 200 cigarettes a day.  So, there’s not much left to go on in the wheelhouse, it’s all been blown apart.  He’s 32 years old, and his mother pays his rent, his health insurance, bought him a car, and gives him an allowance to buy food, gas, clothes, cigarettes, booze, etc.  She, the friend’s daughter, was telling me all this one day a year or so ago.  I listened, and concluded the conversation by saying something like: “so you’re telling me he’s a lovely guy, but he’s such a f* * *-up that his mother is willing to pay $100,000 a year to keep him 2,000 miles away from her and her friends and work (connections, she does a lot of work for the city)?”  Which was expressing it in terms of which she had not thought, and we may not be friends any more, me and this kid. 

    And that’s a sample of one ruined by getting everything handed to him, I guess.  I don’t have an answer, nor do I have a right to have an opinion, I guess.  I recognized by the time I was fourteen that I had zero interest in reproducing – and apparently said so at about that age, according to my mother, who reminded me of the conversation when I was about forty – so avoided the whole issue.  Never was able to fool myself into thinking I liked kids, so I should probably maintain a dignified silence on the subject.                 

  • nuqlv9ol7u

    Discipline. Actions have consequences, and if you break the rules, there will be consequences. Without this foundation, it will be difficult for a child to become a “productive” adult. This also means that the parent is not a friend. This must start early, and the earlier the better. Discipline does not need to be harsh, but it does need to be consistent.

    As the child gets older, they need to be allowed to make decisions, and they need to be responsible for those decisions. The decisions start small and gradually increase. A high school student can choose to shower in the morning, but they will be responsible to get to school on time.

    The child also needs to be allowed fail. This is how they learn to handle failure and disappointment. They also need to learn how to act after succeeding. Winning is important, but they should be gracious. Losing is also important, and they should be gracious. They need to “learn from their mistakes” and not make them again.

    A high school graduate 18 and older is an adult. Period. In the military, a 19 year old in combat is making life and death decisions. Surely, Joey who is “back on the block” does not need mommy and daddy to run his life.

  • http://ruminationsroom.wordpress.com Don Quixote

    Great topic, Danny! 

    I had an oddball thought as I was reading this.  Many teenagers in the inner cities are given leadership roles making life and death decisions in quasi-military organizations called gangs.  Doesn’t seem to help them much. 

    Seriously, all the talk about giving the kids too much is middle-upper class talk.  Lower class kids haven’t turned out well either and the cause is often not just lack of parent’s ability to raise children well, but lack of parents (or parents’ involvement) period.

    Middle class kids are raised by day-care and upper class kids are raised by nannies. In so many cases, even when parents are present, they don’t do nearly enough, are not nearly enough involved in their children’s lives.  By the way, I’ll be very interested to hear from Bookworm on this.  She may be the best parent I’ve every seen.  

  • 94Corvette

    In looking back at my life and my upbringing – my mother (a single parent) – did two things (above and beyond giving me a firm spiritual foundation) that have helped me tremendously through the years. 
    The first was that though we didn’t have much money to spare, we did keep our priorities straight which meant that she would scrimp and save so that she could buy us youth subscriptions to our local symphony.  Back then, I think it was like $15 for the three of us kids.  This exposed us on a regular basis to music that was timeless.  The ability to save for affordable luxury even when poor taught me a lot about the value of differed gratification. 
    The second thing she did was she gave us the opportunity to make choices in our lives.  She, of course, would walk us throught the pros and cons, but when it was said and done, we made our choice.  It was the next step that made this so valuable. . . . she then made us accept and be responsible for the consequences be they good or bad. 

    If you look at the generations, the inability to moderate desires, the inability to differentiate between a high quality luxury and a cheap bling and the refusal to accept responsibility is common.       

  • Mike Devx

    People are complex; what motivates one person doesn’t motivate the next.  Ask anyone with children if you can treat each one the same, and get the same result.

    However, in general I think one thing is true for nearly everyone:  To what extent do you think the world owes you a living?  The more you think the answer to that is, “yes”, the more you are one of these lost children.

    Those who take individual responsibility for their lives and for their own actions – a hallmark of becoming a mature man or woman – would rarely be considered “lost”.

  • http://photoncourier.blogspot.com David Foster

    A lot of this problem has to do with extended years of education. As Peter Drucker (I think it was) observed, when you are in college it’s all about YOU and your “potential”…very different when you have an actual job and it’s about your *performance* in its value to other people.


  • Danny Lemieux

    Ha! Thank you, JamesG. Fixed! 

  • JKB

    David Foster,

    Paul Graham explained it this way in a footnote to an essay on “How to make Wealth” 

    Many people feel confused and depressed in their early twenties. Life seemed so much more fun in college. Well, of course it was. Don’t be fooled by the surface similarities. You’ve gone from guest to servant. It’s possible to have fun in this new world. Among other things, you now get to go behind the doors that say “authorized personnel only.” But the change is a shock at first, and all the worse if you’re not consciously aware of it.  

    Seems the kids today don’t want to move into servant which is adulthood.

  • http://bigfoodetc.blogspot.com Marica

    I’ve just returned home from a short trip to New Orleans. I have never seen so many little kids in the Quarter! During the late mornings and afternoons there are things for kids to do. But what sort of parents wander around Bourbon Street with their kids in tow after 7pm? Bourbon Street is just vulgar– and not in the nice old sense of the word. I have a photo of a little boy– couldn’t have been more than 7 or 8– standing with his dad next to a, shall we say, skantly-clad young woman offering … well, you get the idea. An another of a young family walking down the street toward a silhouette of a gyrating woman in a window. And another of two little boys playing in Jackson Square right in front of a man picking through the garbage bin. And more of parents drinking daiquiris and pushing toddlers in strollers at 3pm. It’s hot at 3pm!

    By all appearances, these parents– and they were from all racial categories– were middle- to upper-middle class. But what were they thinking? 

    Being a responsible parent is hard work. I don’t blame them for craving a time out. But why can’t they leave the kids with their grandparents? Oh. Because Grandma is plowed by 3.

    My husband and I talked about this on the ride home. He reminded me that the grandparents came of age in the 60s and pretty much are still living as if it’s the 60. Peace & Love. :-)

    The whole thing was very distressing to me. Made all the more so because we did take our girls to NOLA. But not until they were in their mid- to late-teens, when it was appropriate to expose them to the seamier side of life.

    My advise to parents these days? Grow up.  

  • skullbuster

    Begins way before college: One of my grandaughters today got back from a cruise to the Greek Isles and is on the way (as I write this) to her college dorm room that her mother just moved her in and decorated the last two days.  She will rest a day or two before soriety rush starts. I’ll give her 2 semesters.  Thank goodness she’ll have health care for 8 more years. One of my gransons had the nerve, at 10 years old, to ask me to buy him a $180.00 baseball bat.  I told him he’s a very good ball player but not THAT good. But it’s not all their fault.  When my daughter and I had a discussion of $50.00 football reciever’s gloves. she said they might not improve his pass catching ability but they looked “soo”cool.  This is a grown sucessful business women. Unfortunately, the boy’s father died of cancer when he was 2. BTW,  does any 10-12 year old cut grass anymore? I am very sorry to say this, but I think I am going to have only one grandchild that will amount to anything,  That’s because her father, my son, was a builder that lost his business and the entire family has had to really sacrifice to make ends meet.  She, at 13, has had to babysit after school for money to help out.  She is the only one out of 10 that has her head screwed on right.  Unfortunately, by the time she reaches working age, I feel hard work and intelligence will be looked down on as trying to make others look bad and will be squashed.

  • bap

        I consider my main parenting job to be teaching my kids to survive and thrive in the world. 
        To me, in addition to giving kids love, affection and attention, that means caring enough to let them fail (preferably early and somewhat painfully), fighting my inclination to give them things they could earn for themselves, being gently direct (or brutally, if that fails) when they’re being obnoxious and self-centered, having them live two to a room, sharing my own mistakes with them, requiring them to treat authority figures with respect (even if they sometimes don’t deserve it) without shutting off their brains, apologizing when I get things wrong, showing them the value of friends and family, helping them see and feel the results of their decisions, making sure they always contribute to making the household work, constantly increasing the responsibility/freedom in their lives–the list is endless.
        It is slow and often frustrating work, but also immensely fulfilling. 

  • http://OgBlog.net Earl

    JKB:  I know those feelings…..when I graduated college, I got married the next weekend (after a 4+ year courtship – virginal).  I remember dressing in the back room of the church and looking out the window in the door down the street…..and fully understanding why some guys run!  It was (almost) overwhelming.
    We went to S. America for a year to teach in a mission school, then back to take a Master’s and a PhD – and I was fully aware that I stayed in school because it was something I knew I was good at, the government would pay me to do it, and I was *scared* to grow up and play the role of “adult”.  I extended my adolescence as long as I could afford it – and used to tell my students (only half in jest) that I’d STILL be in school, if they’d kept the checks coming!  :-)
    When my son was born, during the time I was writing my dissertation (and working as an electrician’s helper for minimum wage), I can remember the clear sense of “playing the role” of Daddy….it was weird.
    But, once the dissertation had passed muster, there was no longer any excuse for me – I’d been raised right and I knew I had to get a “real job”.  It helped that I was just turning 30, and wasn’t afraid (too much) of high school students any longer.
    I fault the parents most of all — mine made sure that ALL of us would have been ashamed to take a welfare check, or food stamps, if we weren’t both starving and physically unable to do any useful work for pay.
    bap: I second everything you wrote, and especially the “fulfilling” part.  I NEVER identified myself with my job (much as I loved it) to the extent that I did with my favorite role…..Daddy (and now “Papa”).

  • Danny Lemieux

    Bap, you struck a cord with me, as well. 

    If you were to ask parents, “what is the most obligation you have in raising a child?”, what do you think that most would say? 

  • Charles Martel

    “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” Leo Tolstoy

    I think Tolstoy’s observation applies to lost children. In reading the comments above, it seems that the successful kids are alike in so many ways. But when DQ points out that lost children come from all races and economic groups, so that there’s no one explanation for their plight, I think he echoes Tolstoy.

    Take your pick: the upper middle-class practice of substituting material goods for simple parental presence; the ghetto practice of absent fathers and contempt for learning and honest work; public schools that obliterate the development of character and excellence in the name of feel-good equality, and a debased popular culture that encourages leading lives brimming with meaningless climaxes and crescendos so that there never is a time or place for contemplation or self-awareness.

    It turns out that the road to ruin is plural—several roads.

  • http://OgBlog.net Earl

    For those who’ve read the Bible, that will resonate, Charles:

    Matthew 7:13 Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:


    Matthew 7:14 Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.
    I don’t think there’s really only one way to raise kids right, but there are a relatively few essential features of parenting if you want your kids to be successful….they have to get it from you, or from a substitute of some kind – a teacher, a relative, a Scoutmaster, etc.
    A child deprived of those (relatively) few features will be “lost”, and there are a million (more or less) different features that won’t save him/her.

  • http://caedmon-innkeeper.blogspot.co.uk/ Caedmon

    What is there for them to believe in outside of themselves, outside of their families? 
    Aren’t we looking at their lives from our perspectives, and what we want for them: stability, prosperity, happiness? Is that what we wanted for ourselves at that age? Weren’t we all a little afraid of the compromises that a successful adult life requires? Didn’t what are now ludicrous phrases such as “selling out” have meaning for us? 
    Go into their world for a little spell, visit cracked.com and cheezburger and see  behind the humor and the affected cynicism a genuine hopelessness at any form of aspiration. 

  • bap

    Danny, you ask how I think most parents today would characterize their parental goals–I’m guessing that most haven’t thought about it much, but if they have, they’d probably say they want their kids to be happy.  I want my kids to be happy also, but not always. 
        In general, I think we have a two-pronged problem:
        1) The self-esteem movement (the child must always feel good about himself).  Our culture has taken to this meme with gusto–and why not?  It gives us permission to fulfill our every whim and actively discourages considering the cost.  YOLO, Just Do It, etc.  As Dave Ramsey says, the peaks feel great, but all of the fertilizer is in the valley.  <grin> 
        2) Both parents working.  It takes a lot of time, energy, presence and repetition to teach a kid life skills and attitudes.  A small example: doing the chores yourself is so much easier and there’s no fighting.  I really didn’t learn the full worth of chores until I had done them for years–that’s when you look up and realize that they aren’t even work anymore because you’ve accepted them as something that must be done and you’ve done them so many times that you don’t even have to think while you do it. 
        Not to say that many working parents don’t do a great job parenting, but the combination of those two factors is deadly in my opinion. 

  • http://thoughtyoudneverask.blogspot.com/ zabrina

    Our society has a million activities and entertainments for children but doesn’t seem particularly interested in helping children become self-sufficient these days. It seems to want to keep them in the kid-ghetto. My kids still had to ask permission in their (rated the best in the state) public high school to use the restrooms, have passes and permission to go anywhere or do anything. Their studies are constrained and their required summer readings are maddeningly timewasting. I have had to overtly urge my children to be less concerned about following rules in high school as they reached their upper teens, after I had raised them to be punctilious and respectful of authority–they were throwbacks to another age and unfortunately that puts them sometimes at a disadvantage. Also churches consistently segregate kids into youth groups to hang out with their peers, missing a wonderful opportunity for young people to learn from a community of wise and moral older people (and vice versa). These trends frustrated me as a parent–who designed these stupid customs?
    I recently read about William Bebb’s boarding school in Ohio in the 1820s for boys 10-14. The boys could live in one freezing dormitory in a wing of the schoolmaster’s home, or they could build themselves log cabins from the timber in the adjacent woods. The biggest cabins had multiple rooms, stone fireplaces and brick chimneys. Kids in those days were expected to be self-reliant and skilled at an early age. So we know it is possible, and preferable!
    As a parent who started late having children, my goal was to make them as self-sufficient as possible, by age 18, when I expected them to leave home, either to enter college or start work and live elsewhere or pay rent to us, which is how my mother and I had been raised. This involved being a stay-at-home mom devoted to their development, giving them lots of opportunities to try different things, and letting them fail and grow strong by reaping the consequences of their actions. Many times I drove my children to school late, with a note that said “this absence is NOT excused because my child overslept.” More than once I even charged my son for the gasoline, until he finally wised up. I also spanked my children when they needed it, docked them allowance, took away tv and computer time, cancelled playdates, and sent them to bed early. I did NOT do their homework for them. I overlooked their tears for the long-term goal. I grew a spine and developed my own self-discipline so that I could help develop it in them. I told them their job in life as children was to learn self-reliance, obey their parents, manage themselves appropriately and succeed in school. For awhile I was known in our household as the meanest mom in the county (self-described). If not me, then who else would care to do the dirty work to teach my children how to grow up?
    Now my son, 21, frequently hugs me and tells me I am the best and wisest mother of any he knows. My daughter, 17, sends me notes (“to the best mother in the world”). Both kids are okay hearing the word “No” and can cope with it. We have not been perfect parents, and we have yet to negotiate the weaning process from completing college to total self-sufficiency (especially difficult now in this economy). We’ll muddle through somehow. But my children are both now earning money, budgeting their resources, focused on completing their educations and planning their careers, and we are mostly all on the same page. The hardest work of parenting for me was completed before their teenage years, which I think is important for parents to realize. That made the teenage years a lot of fun.

  • bap

    Yeah.  What Zabrina said–another member of the Mean Mom Club!  <grin> 

  • expat

    One of my favorite lines from a book is Penney Baxter telling Jodie in the Yearling, “Life is hard.”  Maybe it isn’t always, but it can be. Kids need to be prepared for this, and they need our faith that they will be able to handle it.

  • http://thoughtyoudneverask.blogspot.com/ zabrina

     In a parenting seminar at our church, I mentioned that my wife and I often played “good cop, bad cop” roles, but that we always had each others’ back when it came to disciplining our children. One (really top-drawer) mother raising three really great kids piped up, “Why do I always have to be the bad cop? My husband is such a pushover”.
    I eventually got over feeling like this mother when I realized that it was up to me to do WHATEVER IT TAKES to make sure my kids were raised right. Including cajoling or educating my husband to understand what was needed or, failing that, even doing it all by myself. It was just that important, and there was so much at stake. Yes, growing a spine and being the bad cop all by myself sometimes was what was needed. Did I like that imperfect situation? Absolutely not. But it was still better than being a widow or divorcee and really have to raise them entirely alone.
    I have seen over the long haul in other families where the woman felt unpartnered like that and needed to place blame on the husband’s failings and play the victim more than she needed to raise her children properly. That was a tragic decision that didn’t turn out well at all for the kids, and you know what else? The woman ends up miserable with a neverending chaotic life when her children end up so messed up as adults.
    Yes ma’am, you put your children’s needs ahead of your own and you do whatever it takes. If not you, right now, then who? The prison system? You have only a handful of years to get them on the right track. When they’re taller than you, it’s usually too late.
    I am very encouraged there are other good parents out there, and good parenting books too (John Rosemond was my mainstay, and Dr. Laura helped my general attitude a great deal). It’s a hard job, but good, wise parents (especially day-to-day, hands-on mothers who step up to the plate and hang in there) are my heroes.

  • Gringo

    Let me start if off: tell your children that nobody owes them anything. Everything good that they enjoy in life is a gift.
    One of the records I played over and over on the 78 rpm record player when I was a preschooler was the Ant and the Grasshopper song.  The grasshopper sang “The World Owes Me a Living,” but by the end of the song was singing “I Owe the World a Living.”
    The song most likely came from a Disney cartoon. I do not recall seeing the cartoon. The cartoon says  “The World Owes Us a Living,” but what the hey.

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com Ymarsakar

    Make them take risks and then give them more rewards the better risk they take. Just like Eve.

  • Beth

    Thanks for this great thread.  I’ve enjoyed reading all the comments.  Currently raising 8–from 20 down to 3.  Having the large numbers here instills early that the world doesn’t revolve around you.  Discipline and reality checks constantly and consistently.  They have learned to take care of themselves AND each other out of both love and duty.  My husband and I are seen as the squarest, toughest parents around because we a) are not ‘friends’ with our children, and b) we see this as our greatest achievement in our lives–raising men and women who know and respect God, themselves and others. 
    Bap–ditto all you’ve said and Zabrina–you are so right when you say, Do whatever it takes.  I quit a very lucrative job when the oldest was three months old and I’ve never looked back.  And I get a little tired of hearing how “lucky” I am that I can stay home with my children.  We made a conscious decision to forego an easier financial life to not only raise one child but give all of our children a solid future with siblings who will love and challenge them, who will be there for them even longer than we will.  
    As to what parents are missing today is the confidence to trust their natural instincts in taking care of children.  I fought with oh-so-many docs on what I ‘needed’ to do for the infants, toddlers, teens, etc.  It is not baloney that women (in particular) and men have innate senses to know what is right for their children.  But since the advent of the parenting gurus, a couple cannot think for themselves on how best to care for, discipline, feed, educate and nurture their children.  There is such a fear that someone will call them on their decisions–and rightly so in this day of department of child and family services.  My advice for new parents is to trust their gut FIRST, then ask for advice from someone who has been there.

  • Michael Adams

    We had our son when we were thirty four years of age, and our daughter when we were forty three.  I have often thought that we enjoyed them more than our parents enjoyed us, simply because we waited so long. My sister, five years my junior, has pointed out some details of our upbringing that strongly suggest that our parents were pretty self-involved when we were kids.  My wife and I were not.  We said,”If you’re not obsessed, you have  not gotten the point.” We just never left them with a baby sitter, certainly not to work, because one or the other of us stayed home and took care of them, and our social life revolved around them, their friends, and the parents of those friends, and church. It was a Liberal church, but there was one other family there who never compromised where the kids were concerned.  That family left for a more conservative church about a year before we did. 
    Having one parent at home meant a lower income, so they learned the value of a buck, and they knew the hours their daddy put in, to earn those bucks. 
    And, as I mentioned church, we took those words in the Christening service very seriously, “nurture and admonition of the Lord,” for example. He lent them to us, for a time, and expected us to return them in at least as good condition as He had left them.
    Now our son is grown and married, put himself through college, and now has  three great kids,being raised as obsessively as we raised  him.

  • http://OgBlog.net Earl

    Oh, Zabrina…how blessed your kids are to have you.  We can identify, and thankfully were very much on the same page when it came to child-rearing.  We each learned stuff from the other, but we presented a united front in virtually EVERY case where it mattered.

    By the way, we DID make mistakes – I’m confident of this, although I don’t know where.  But when the kids would complain, we’d always say that God had given US the responsibility for their raising, and if we made mistakes that messed them up, that’s what therapy was for.  They’d watched us do couple’s counselling (it was part of the budget for our hand-built house, as we’d seen 7 couple divorce before, during, or after a house-building project, and every one of THEM had hired other people to do the work!) so they knew we believed in its value, and weren’t just blowing smoke. 

    Gail had a list (she’s a nurse, and hyper-organized about things) of skills that each of them would master before they were ready to be on their own.  It included cooking, cleaning, laundry, etc. etc.  They proudly checked things off, they worked for their own money, and I’m so proud of them both I could burst!  :-) 

    Michael Adams, we were 30 and 34, and due to my testicular cancer at 19, and the aftermath in surgeries and radiation, there was a good deal of question whether kids would be possible.  So, we did NOT take those two for granted.  We also lived on one income, drove one car for many years (a total of 3 for the first 40 years of our marriage), lived in rented houses until we built our own, and NEVER hired anyone to care for our kids.  I did it when Gail worked – shifts on weekends, or after I got home from lab – and she did it the rest of the time.  It was a BIG investment, but the payoff has been fabulous.  Neither of them is a clone of the folks, but they are good and decent people that we greatly enjoy being with.