No One Said It Would Be Easy (Being a Parent)

Category: Weekly Columns

Funny parenting photo

There are so many clichés around parenting that I could literally fill a book. I like “no one said it would be easy” for parenting and many things. In fact, most of the best things in life aren’t “easy.” They may be fun, but they are often not easy. Dennis Prager has often talked about this very fact when he speaks on happiness and differentiates between what makes us happy and what is simply fun.

Randy Glasbergen comic

It’s pretty certain that few parents would describe the overall experience of having and raising kids as “fun,” though most would likely point to many “fun” times. I suspect it’s the challenges of parenting that often define its impact on us. It’s also said that “You never stop being a parent,” and this is so true. When our kids get bigger, their problems simply get bigger, too (yet another cliché).

I often wrote about my problems as a single dad, the various challenges I faced when my boy’s mom left the home, and how it was raising teenagers, and more that would not likely fall in the “whoope-dee-do” fun column of life.

Now, I’m at the end of a family crisis that is too personal to go into detail since my boys are entitled to privacy. Nonetheless, it provoked me to write this column as a form of (self) therapy and to remind myself that, hopefully, “This too shall pass.”

Bad Parenting

Since we all tend to like lists and list posts, here is a list of some of the many challenges most parents face and those that many (fortunately) do not.

~~ Becoming stupid overnight is particularly hard for most parents to understand upon their children entering their teens.

Mark Twain on teenagers

~~ How did previous generations handle “this” is a common thought and refrain. The “this” being whatever we’re going through that seems insurmountable in the moment.

Parenting then and now comic

~~ Who said it would be so darn expensive?

~~ Regarding college I simply say, WTF! Everything about college, from college prep (which begins in some communities by the choice of pre-school) on through their entire primary education, up to and including applications and attendance, is fraught with challenges.

~~ Bullying is the problem du jour. Now, we’re hearing about 300-pound NFL players bullying each other. I think this is an overblown problem, but it is still a problem, nonetheless.

parenting-cartoon

~~ Money and Time with the kids is a horrible problem today. For many single parent and dual-parent households, making ends meet requires a lot of working hours. For others, it’s a choice they make to have more things. My heart goes out to those that really have financial hurdles while I challenge those that can spend more time with their kids to do just that and, perhaps, forego that new car!

~~ We no longer can trust our public institutions to protect and educate our kids with the values most of us live by. With the removal of anything God-related from the public sphere, the politically correct textbooks, and gender-equal curriculum, some parents have to literally re-educate their children from the indoctrination of many school districts. When it comes to most big colleges/universities, we’re doomed if our kids haven’t already embraced our values.

~~ Heroes are few and far between. Where we once looked to sports, political figures, even Hollywood for our heroes, few exist today so parents have to explain words like blowjob (regarding a U.S. President) and the like. What is twerking, anyway?

Poor parenting skills

~~ Technology has both opened up the world for our children and assaulted their innocence. Our vigilance on what they see – from ALL their screens – is a job that cannot be ignored. It’s hard and it’s easy to slack with it.

~~ Where shame once was a tool of reticence and hindering bad behavior, our children now see bad behavior rewarded. So, Paris Hilton becomes a star when a porn video is “inadvertently” released. Sports stars get busted for drugs and worse, and often return to fame and glory. Politicians get away with things that would have ruined them just a few short decades ago and Hollywood, which once had whole PR departments “protecting” and “covering” for their stars, now has TMZ parading their every naked move.

~~ The family structure is in flux. Some of this some might consider progressive and inclusive. Some is simply destructive when, for instance, the government pays dads to leave the home so the family can get welfare. What does this teach our children and since when has an absent dad been good for a child?

Modern parents comic

On looking at this list, I feel a strong sense of helplessness. These are big issues. They’ve evolved over time and for a variety of reasons. Like a big ship, it can’t turn around quickly. All I can do is be the best dad I can be. All you can do is the same.

Feel free to add your own challenge in the comments section below.

Funny parenting cliche

  • David Weber

    I think you’ve got some very good points here.

    I am reading and re-reading the passage that refers to, along with a number of other concerns, “the removal of anything God-related from the public sphere” as a turn of events that requires parents “to literally re-educate their children from the indoctrination of many school districts.”

    I don’t dispute that parents must on certain occasions provide their offspring with counterarguments to what the children learn in school. Let’s, by the way, recognize that this has gone on forever; and as well, let’s agree that this may happen more now than it has in the past. Using myself as an example: On a handful of occasions when I was in elementary, junior high and high school, my parents, at dinner, issued “the other side of the story” that I reported teachers had said that day in school. I acknowledge that this may be happening today with a greater degree of frequency, although not being a parent, I don’t know just HOW often what a son or daughter is learning is something that, apart from informed and principled disagreement with the teacher, a parent may object to.)

    So, regarding God in the public sphere: I am not sure what value this has. I think there is a great deal of difference between, on one hand, high-profile grassroots movements to remove God from the public sphere completely, and on the other, a lack of interest in having God make any special appearance in public pronouncements or public discourse. The former is truly objectionable to me, primarily because it flies in the face of the kind of free expression that has marked most of U.S. history in public settings. Pick apart the Bill of Rights as much as you choose, I have not personally found any argument compelling enough to suggest that God has no place in U.S. public discourse. Very LITTLE, if anything, really, can be said to have NO place in U.S. public discourse. So to say God oughtn’t to be referenced is to me in the same league as saying any topic or term oughtn’t to be referenced: All is pretty much OK to bring up in U.S. public discourse.

    On the other hand, how much do I think God OUGHT or MUST be part of public discourse? My answer: None at all. If God comes up, fine. If it doesn’t, fine. I say this as someone who has STRUGGLED his entire adult life with his thoughts and feelings about God: Does God exist? Does God not exist? If God exists, what is the appropriate choices humans ought to make in acknowledgement of same? And so on. I have been a theist, an atheist, an agnostic, indifferent, catholic (small c!) in my sense of what God may or may not be…and on and on. I resent ANY secular public discourse that would presuppose a certain way of thinking and feeling about God is the default one for members of the national public sphere. I dislike prayer on public occasions, prayer in schools (other than private schools), political candidates being assessed in terms of the apparent sincerity or insincerity of their religious or spiritual beliefs.

    There are many reasons why schools are fouled up in this country. It would have to be explained to me how removal of anything God-related in the public sphere — and by the way, I actually am not really sure what that means — is a bad thing. When it comes to God, that is, let Her stay in heaven.

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      @7f990e539df4ddefe26884eb65a5f04c:disqus – my reference to “God” was intended to be broader which is why I wrote God-related. All references to “values” seem to be qualified. The notion that one value is greater than another has been diminished in schools and the public sphere. I think there is good and bad. I think there is EVIL and I believe it is NOT a matter of opinion as some suggest.

      • Virginia Y

        We chose a parochial school after touring all of the public schools, including the ones that everyone wanted their kid to go to. I was a public school kid, but times have changed. What struck me as the biggest difference between parochial and public was that parochial held on to the traditions of family (forming families at school with students from different grades) and respect for each other and their elders (proper manners were encouraged). Most of all, there was a sense of togetherness and unity in the parochial community, whereas the public community seemed disjointed and less personal. I’m not a religious type, so I was surprised to find myself preferring to send my child to parochial school; it was the only way, I felt, my kid could maintain the values that I grew up with.

        • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

          @virginia_y:disqus – you made a WISE decision, Virginia. I so agree with what you say here!

          • smokehill

            I totally agree. If I could have afforded to send my son to a Catholic or Baptist school, I would have. No question the actual education is better, and one doesn’t have to worry about the liberal PC propaganda the public schools cram down their throats.
            Most parochial schools are tolerant of “other faiths” and don’t push too hard to convert anyone, though if one is determined to raise their kid an atheist, you might have to do a bit of minor “deprogramming” in some cases.
            Since my son’s mother was a devout Bible-thumper, when we were sharing custody I figured the best approach was to NOT confuse the kid with competing philosophies and hope the religious propaganda would eventually incite the natural rebellion. It did, but whenever my son asked me about religion I just said that some of us simply did not believe, and that as he grew up he should make up his own mind. As a result, I now have a 30-year-old devout atheist for a son, with very little actual input from me.

          • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

            Our kids are NOW being brainwashed by the secular left – it’s as bad as any other cult!

  • ginavalley

    When you see it all written out like that, the challenges of parenting seem so daunting, as to be overwhelming. Truth be told, I don’t think any parent realizes how truly difficult it is to bring up a child, even the easiest child in the best of circumstances. Certainly that is true now. I’m sure, though, that it has always been that way. The challenges may change name with time, but they have always been there. Looking back, if I’d known it would be this difficult to raise my children, would I still have chosen to do it? Yes. But, I’m really glad I didn’t know how truly hard it would be ahead of time.

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      @ginavalley:disqus – at least in the past the family structure was important and people tended to stay in the same area they were born so extended family support was possible. I am NOT glorifying the past – except for that aspect.

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  • Mark Staufer

    Oh crikey. The sooner we remove all God-related nonsense from our children’s lives the better. I look back on 2,000 years of this divisive silliness and hope sincerely for a better future. “God” has had his chance. And, really, look around Bruce, he’s screwed most things up.

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      Sorry @6324f8c55068af3e5de2abb095e968a3:disqus, I fully disagree. The 20th Century saw more genocide and mass murder from the secular side than all human history before it!

      • smokehill

        Quite right. And even though I’m an atheist, I know that the Crusades, and most other European wars, had very little to do with religion and a great deal to do with greed, conquest, power, etc. And in the case of the Crusades, it also was about getting a lot of 2nd & 3rd-son nobles who couldn’t inherit) off somewhere — anywhere — so they would stop their personal predation on anyone and anything; they probably caused more minor wars & bloodshed than all the kings & popes combined. Religion was a partial selling point for the rabble, but the chance of riches and new territories to conquer was a vastly more compelling motive.
        Besides, the Crusades were really just a RESPONSE to Islam’s thus-far very successful swallowing up of everyone else’s territory (and the massive slaughter of infidels of all stripes). The First Crusade started after the Muslim hordes had captured the Holy Land, butchered Christians & Jews, desecrated/destroyed Christian holy sites, and refused to allow Christian pilgrimages. Rather much like al Qaeda & ISIS today, actually.

        • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

          EXACTLY!