Tuesday, December 15, 2009

This is a Direct Response to Mike's Latest Blog

I typed it up in the comment box thingy originally, but when I hit submit it told me that it was too long. So it graduated from a comment to a post of its own... I'm such a proud parent. Which leads me to today's discussion:

Here's Mike's original post: http://selfstlyedgod.blogspot.com/2009/12/love-is-toaster.html

And here's the overlong comment:

I think you are greatly oversimplifying things. I mean, obviously when you start from a place of saying "parenting these days is bad and needs to be better" there's going to be a lot of oversimplification going on. I think, therefore, my problem isn't so much that you are oversimplifying as it is that you are misattributing.

I'm a lot of those things that you said. Specifically, lack of drive. But that's not my parents fault. No, the buck stops here. I'm screwed up in all sorts of ways, but there's very few things having to do with my development, or lack thereof, into a proper human being/adult that I blame on my parents.

To take a couple of the examples you used, buying an apartment and tying a tie.

I have no idea what goes into buying an apartment. I wouldn't know where to start. But I don't feel that I can blame that on my parents. I've never gone about doing it, and what were they supposed to do? Say "Okay, evan. One day you're going to need to buy an apartment. This is what you do..." Or did they just not play enough Monopoly with me as a kid?

Buying an apartment is one of those things that you just have to learn the first time you're ready to buy an apartment. Or, I suppose, if your parents happen to move while you are living with them and you sort of get a little bit involved with the process.

On to tying a tie. That's really... I mean, yeah... you're dad could have taught you to tie a tie, but... Okay, there's a line in The West Wing where the president is talking to his doctor who just had a baby, and he says that the guy's job is to provide food and shelter. Then he adds "You also have to teach her how to whistle. Her mother won't do that."

Obviously there's more to being a parent than food and shelter and whistling. Whistling is, strictly speaking, not a necessary skill to teach your kids. That's around where tying a tie is. It's a nice thing for a father to teach his son, like the cliche scene where the father and son are standing in front of the mirror and the father is shaving and the son has a razor with no blade and he's learning to shave. Sure, it's cute and whatnot, but seriously... you drag the razor across your face and the hair comes off.

Case in point: A couple years back I went to a job fair with my brother and Jim. Neither of them knew how to tie a tie, so I did the tie it on myself thing and then take it off and let them tighten it.

Let's remove Jim from the equation. My brother and I were brought up by the same set of parents, and I knew how to tie a tie but he didn't. Can you blame that on parenting not preparing us for life?

You know how I learned how to tie a tie? I needed to put on a suit one day and didn't remember how my mother had shown me to tie a tie, so I turned on Ocean's 11 and watched Brad Pitt do it.

Here's my point: Yes, it is important for parents to teach their kids things. Schools and friends and learning things just on the streets is not enough. But parents can't be expected to catch everything. Like tying a tie or apartment hunting, sometimes parents miss things and you just have to learn them for yourself. I don't think that I'm telling you something you don't know. I'm sure you didn't mean to say that you should leave your parents house at 18 a fully formed adult with all of life skills necessary for the rest of your life. The only reason I've taken this much time to respond is because 1) I felt like it and 2) When you write things like this I get the sense that you're really trying to say something and even possibly starting up on what could later become a thesis of some sort... like what you planned to do with the Outer Church thing.

A parent's job is to provide food and shelter, and to aid in your moral upbringing, more than anything else. By moral upbringing I mean the type of person you turn out to be. Mostly discipline and teaching the difference between right and wrong and how to treat people.

And how to, in a general sense, take care of yourself. If you leave the house and get scurvy then yeah... maybe the parents did something wrong in this area. But we're in a place now where there is a lot of blaming the parents for things. A lot of it is warranted. Maybe your eight year old shouldn't be playing Grand Theft Auto, and maybe it's your responsibility to know the sorts of things your child is exposed to and not let them be... but at some point people have to take more responsibility for themselves and not just blame things on their parents.

There are a whole host of things that parents nowadays are failing at, but I think it's important to correctly identify which things are really important and which things are superfluous.

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