Jewish World Review
June 15, 2012/ 25 Sivan, 5772
Fatherhood: Blame starts early if you allow it
Father’s Day is upon us, the most confusing day of the year for John Edwards and Arnold Schwarzenegger; thus a great time to reflect on kids.
When you leave the hospital with your child, you are not given instructions on how to raise them or a receipt so you can take them back. Like most parents, I viewed myself as a great parent — right up until I had my first kid.
Here is what I learned: Your kids always seem bad until you spend time with a friend’s child. Your first carpool, play date or beach trip is one of the most reassuring events of parenthood.
Parents have to accept that they are indispensable to their kids one moment and an embarrassment the next. Kids can roll their eyes in disgust and then be super sweet to you, usually right before they ask you for money.
My dad was sent (he would say “sentenced”) to military school. Back then, you could tell a kid what to do and not buy him a car at 16 without being arrested for cruelty by agents of Child Protective Services.
On more than one occasion, I threatened my son with military school. I said it would not be one of them fancy ones, but one with a checkered record that had to advertise in the back of Southern Living.
Every time my son left the house, I reminded him he could be tried as an adult. He has turned out well, but he was a challenge.
Raising girls is much easier. All a dad has to do is be willing, each month, to go with them to watch a new movie set against the backdrop of competitive cheerleading. If you just do that, they will think it is the nicest thing one person has done for another since the Underground Railroad.
It is always fun to see what my kids buy me for Father’s Day. They grapple each year with the question of what to get for a man who only leaves the house to go to the liquor store.
The nightmare for a father is having a daughter who is a stripper — not the “working my way through law school” kind with a reasonable intellect, but the “out near the airport” kind who harbors resentment toward her dad.
You do not want to instill resentment that never ends. I enjoy reading the female same-sex marriage announcements in the New York Times and trying to determine which set of parents they are trying to get back at the most.
Parents have to treat all their kids equally. I have two beautiful kids. My wife reminds me that we have a total of three, but I like to keep one of them guessing. Though we love all our kids the same, we all know we just would not call 911 quite as quickly if a certain one of them went missing.
All my kids came to see us in Florida over the Christmas holidays, and while they were home I had them watch the excellent documentary film on our educational system’s decline, “Waiting for Superman.”
In explaining to them what Superman did, I had to describe what a phone booth was and how Superman dashed into one to change into his tights before going out to save the world. Then my kids explained to me that no single man of that age, in tights in New York, would have a romantic interest in Lois Lane.
Since schools prefer to indoctrinate rather than teach their students, many of our kids are not hirable. They have been shielded from reality, taught in envy-based courses that they are owed something. If parents aren’t vigilant, they will come out of college with a degree in bitterness and $100,000 in student loan debt — or worse, a degree in Women’s Studies.
Blame starts early if you allow it. Teachers are even using dolls in first-grade classrooms to help kids point to the spot where Republicans touched the economy and ruined it.
Two things are sure in this world: The earth rotates around the sun and kids will take the easy way out if you let them. And I am not so sure about the earth rotating around the sun thing.
The best thing we can do for our kids is to instill in them a work ethic, not a sense of entitlement, and then let the chips fall where they may. Since kids are a perpetual personification of parenting, we all should do our best. And when in doubt, do what your parents did.
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JWR contributor Ron Hart grew up in Tennessee and began writing a column for his hometown paper in 2002. He attended The University of Memphis and the Institute for Political and Economic Systems at Georgetown University. Ron graduated Magna Cum Laude and was elected student government president. Upon getting his MBA, he went to work for Goldman Sachs. He was appointed to the Tennessee Board of Regents by then Governor Lamar Alexander and is now a private investor. He appears on CNN and has been quoted in numerous publications including the Wall Street Journal.
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