Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Where Have All the Adults Gone?

This is what I find myself asking these days. I volunteer with youth and families and it seems to me that fewer and fewer parents are acting like adults. Decisions about where and how their children should spend time seem to be too difficult for a number of them. I'll grant you, that as the former latch key kid of a single mother myself, I made most of my time decisions (or had them made for me by our financial circumstances) but Mom always had the last say on whether or not something was acceptable. (She may not have been able to enforce it while she was at work, but there were consequences if we deviated. We also all went through Scouts-it was non-negotiable and she became a leader to show us how important those values were to her.)

Nowadays, I hear a lot of parents commenting that they let their child make all the decisions about how to spend their "free" time.
These comments often sound something like this: " Well, he wants to do all these things, but I told him he had to choose three." There is never any mention made of the suitability of those choices to the talents and abilities of the child, nor the long term effects of that activity on the child's life. It all seems to be based on what the child wants to do or thinks is fun.

Lest you get the wrong idea, I am not against allowing a child to have a preference, or pursue a hobby or interest. I do, however think it is the parent's job to make sure at least 2 of those 3 or 4 activities are going to help the child develop values, habits, talents and skills that will positively impact the rest of their lives.

This is prime time as far as ability to learn goes. Simply throwing away the opportunity to use an activity that could instill values and character that will enhance your child's life because "he didn't want to" doesn't make sense. You make them eat their vegetables even though they don't want to. Why is this different?

Here's an example: My own son asked for piano lessons when he was 6. I thought, okay, we'll see where this goes and if he has a talent for it. (He was already in Scouts for character building-my choice, not his.) His teacher said he was a fast learner and had some talent. When he was 8, he came to me and said he didn't really want to take lessons anymore, because he wanted a break and wasn't sure he wanted to keep playing. I said "Too bad - I already signed you up for summer lessons. If I think that it's too stressful for you after a year, we'll discuss it again." He had demonstrated interest and talent and had invested 2 years of his time in learning this skill. I thought throwing that away because he "wanted a break" was a bad idea. That is an appropriate decision for me to make as his parent. If he had shown signs of stress or fought me over it in a consistent manner over the next year, I might have allowed him to stop. But his waning interest had been just a blip and he got over it and went on.

He is now a teenager who teaches piano lessons to others. He is making a steady income from this talent and his invested time. (He is also still in Scouts and has had some absolutely awesome experiences through that program.)

My point is that children do not have the experience or knowledge to make appropriate decisions about what activities are going to serve them best over their lifetimes. It is a parent's duty to guide and shape their child through those activities into solid, responsible citizens. Too many parents today refuse to take that duty to heart, preferring instead to be the "cool" parent who lets their child do what he/she wants.

"Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it." ~ Proverbs 22:6

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


I know some of you may have found this page through the AFB.


I'm making this blog mostly because I'm feeling grouchy at the moment. I am feeling very much like the fellow who said "Sometimes I think the whole world is crazy except you and me ... and sometimes I wonder about you."

I am finding the world a terribly lonely place for anyone who wants to get things done properly and so, the title of this blog. I don't know if one person can make a difference, but I do know that doing the right thing isn't about polls or consensus. It's about taking the personal responsibility to find out what the right thing is and to do it regardless of whether or not it generates approval from others.

I welcome polite comments. I will delete profanity or personal attacks or anything I regard as a personal attack, so please bear that in mind if you choose to comment. (Always assuming there is something worthy of comment - there may not be.)

"But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint." ~ Isaiah 40:31