Articles about family, kids, boomers, and relationships. Many of these columns are also my weekly columns, discussing families and the issues many of them go through. Money, teaching kids values, relationships – it’s all here.
I was walking with a good friend who shared the ongoing problems he and his wife were having with one of their children. It was a serious problem. It was clear, on his face and demeanor, how troubled he was. I know him well and I know he is a good parent, an attentive one, a caring one, and a smart one. Yet, nothing they seem to do is helping with this one particular child, a young adult really, and it was clear that this situation was at risk of consuming their lives.
That old saying: parents are only as happy as their least happiest child, occurred to me when this friend was telling me the latest drama from their kid. I wanted to offer a solution, but knowing everything he and his wife have already tried, all I could offer was solace and gentle concern that they may be allowing their child to damage their other immediate family relationships. Sadly, he agreed.
It’s not often that a book about parenting will grace the cover of TIME magazine, but the storm of reaction to “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother” by Amy Chua, the so-called Tiger Mom’s book is unprecedented.
I found my own reaction, as a “Kosher dad,” to be decidedly mixed. My Jewish background also prizes and values education, but we go about it slightly differently. Do we use the extreme punishments of Tiger Mom such as no play-dates, endless practice of either piano or violin, harsh criticism when a grade less than an “A” is received, and only the allowed social life of a monk? No, we consider those lightweight methods barely worth the effort involved. Our moms pull out all stops with their effective, frankly frightening, and completely terrifying tool. Guilt. Jewish moms are especially adept at employing guilt, as it’s been a centuries-old tradition. Rather than the medieval tortures that Tiger Mom employs, my mom would simply say, “Oy vey, what have I done to deserve this?”
Note: For the third time (I guess they just don’t learn?), I was asked to be the “Guest Professor” at Romance University, an online web-site for writers and others. My “course” was the piece written below. There was and is quite a spirited discussion going on at RU and if you’d care to read some of it or join in, here’s the link. But, following is the “course” for your reading pleasure:
Today it seems there are so many changes in our home and work lives, that the sexes often are unsure of what their roles are. Notice that I used the word, “sexes,” rather than gender. To me, “gender” sounds like academics and reeks way too much of the PC police. We are two different sexes and, while this may come as a shock to those of you in “Women’s Studies” departments at our elite universities, we sexes (e.g. men and women) are inherently different! Yup, different. Like in “Black and White,” “Ying and Yang,” “Laurel and Hardy,” and “A Burger and Fries.”
Disclaimer – This column is PG or PG-13 rated, due to its excessive use of bathroom (farting) humor and the two YouTube videos. Trust me, the humor in this column is much tamer than what you find in most contemporary television sit-coms and current movies such as “Bridesmaids” and “The Hangover.” But, as my readers cover the gamut of family values, and I respect you all, I offer this warning.
A recent George Will column, “Lost In Electronica,” started me thinking about how often kids says they’re bored. “Are you kidding me,” said in my best Robert DeNiro accent! If anything, I find there aren’t enough hours in the day for me to begin to do all that I want to do.
But, it’s evidently a fact that many in this current generation are often bored, even with all that is available at their fingertips. Of course, every child doesn’t have access to all our current high-tech devices, but most libraries do have computer “labs.” Why is boredom more prevalent today? My first answer is MTV. Yes, MTV, which if you’ve forgotten stands for “Music Television.” When it began, in August of 1981, it ushered in a whole new world of fast-cutting short videos.
I did a video interview for Bill Vick (BoomersNextStep.com) who is a terrific guy and more so for allowing me to ramble on and on and then edit the video without showing himself once! At least he could’ve cut away and showed his handsome self when I was picking my nose! Seriously, he promotes helping boomers to help themselves, instead of falling into the trap of looking back at their “Glory Days” to quote another B.S. (my initials), Bruce Springsteen. Following is the whole unedited, unadulterated, unfiltered, rambling me:
To some degree, all parents live vicariously through their children. The question however is a matter of degree–how much? It’s normal to want the best for our kids, but when we project our own failed opportunities or fantasies, we may be crossing an inappropriate line.
That was happening to me when my son’s musical ability blossomed and I was that parent beaming while I taped every performance of his. Then, when he got his 15-minutes of fame and jammed with his rock ‘n’ roll idol, Chris Cornell (http://bit.ly/ay3IRx), I tried to milk it for all it was worth. Was that for him or for me?