I have a big mouth and I’ve even been described as a guy who talks too much. Anyone that knows me knows I’m highly opinionated and my family, in particular, lives with me both repeating myself and just droning on endlessly. It’s as if I don’t get an “Okay” or “Yeah, Dad” I assume my boys haven’t heard me.
Recently, I’ve begun a very stupid habit of complaining or voicing out loud issues between my wife and I, venting and expecting a sympathetic ear, to one or the other of my boys. I’m not voicing anything of a deeply personal nature but it is still inappropriate discussion for them to hear from their dad, about their stepmother. Like I said, this guy talks too much.
The parents of every generation expect and hope that their children can and will do better than they did. Ours may be the first generation, in a very long while, where it is both unlikely and unrealistic to have this expectation. This scarier world has just gotten much more complicated, much harder, and more competitive. I reflected on this in a conversation with a friend, about how much easier we believed it was for us, as we were starting out in life.
It is inescapable that America’s pre-eminence in the world is changing. Whether it’s the devaluation of our dollar as the standard currency or other factors, it is clear that we are weakening as the world’s super-power. The fall-out from this translates to our industries, our economy, and the opportunities our children will have.
So, herewith Part Three of my blogs about the “Big Three” subjects most couples argue about. We’ve done money and sex; now “the kids.” I will declare, at the onset, that this issue is usually more combustible in blended families, though it certainly is present in nuclear ones as well.
For us, we had to deal with me having raised my kids alone for several years and my second wife having not had kids or any meaningful (especially living with them) experience with kids. But, she’s got an opinion and has never been bashful about expressing it (anymore than me).
What happened to kids listening to their parents? It seems whatever I ask my boys to do, the response is always some sort of “No,” whether it be questioning why I won’t do it myself or saying “later.” Am I missing something or have I just become a total wimp of a dad?
When did it become okay to disobey our parents with relative impunity? I guess when us boomers became parents and began spoiling our kids by giving them everything they wanted.
I know my column is from my personal perspective, and often about my personal life. Yet I feel this topic is more confessional than many others and affects me too often. I take things too personally. Having this deficiency is truly toxic when you are raising kids or beginning a new marriage, both of which define my present state of affairs.
Let’s give some examples and see how many of you relate to them. Easy ones are when ShortRib (my wife) isn’t smiling, isn’t talking much, or doesn’t respond quickly to an e-mail, or text of mine. I always assume that it’s my fault or something I’ve done.
The ‘50s ideal of the nuclear family is clearly a thing of the past as most statistics readily confirm. Divorce is rampant and the definition of family is undergoing constant scrutiny and redefinition. For my family, we’ve been dealing with a new Step-Mom, as I just got married, this past December 27 (2008). My new wife might argue that she is going through the greatest adjustment, while my boys and I might argue otherwise. I’ll let you be the judge, but first I want to officially introduce my family members, not by name, but by nickname. Steppin’ – My Action Verb for Step-Parenting
In thinking of what would be most appropriate, I thought I’d look for some special characteristics and/or interests to identify them. For my older son, 15, it was easy. His singular interest is rock ‘n’ roll, especially harder rock and metal. He plays guitar well, often, and loudly. So, he will hereafter be known as “GuitarHero.” My younger son, 12, has more diverse interests and is known as the artist of the family, loving manga comic books and all sorts of drawing. However, his favorite comic book is, without question, “Archie,” so his name is going to be “Jughead.”