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Jewish World Review June 14, 2002 /4 Tamuz, 5762

Tom Purcell

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Consumer Reports

Contemporary Father's Day:
A conversation for the ages | "Dude, this is a special day, so why don't we go hang with the other dudes and do some skateboarding?"

"Sorry, George, but I have homework to do."

"Dude, life is short and you're not going to be a kid forever. Like, let's go out and have fun NOW."

"But George, before I do my homework, I have to tend to my chores. I am given an allowance for doing those chores, after all."

"Dude, there will always be chores! It's fun that there is a scarcity of. Let's go have fun now."

"Unfortunately, George, there are times in life when a kid should forsake the things he wants to do so he can do the things he is supposed to do."

"Dude, you're being such a square, just the way parents used to be. You sound just like 'the man.'"

"The man, George?"

"Yeah, dude. Rigid parents. Corrupt leaders. The military-industrial complex."

"You really lose me sometimes, George."

"Dude, parents used to be a major drag. They laid down the law and demanded that their children live within strict boundaries."

"Wow, George, I wonder what it was like to have boundaries."

"It was the worst, dude. Parents were always monitoring their kids, always disciplining them, always pushing them to do more."

"Maybe that wasn't such a bad idea, George. Many kids have no boundaries these days or parents who demand anything from them."

"What are you talking about, dude?"

"For starters, George, many parents are divorced or working long hours away from their kids. When they do spend time with them, parents are too tired to go through the hassle of disciplining them."

"Really, dude?"

"And then there has been the self-esteem movement. Many parents fear that if they are tough on their kids, they will harm their feelings."


"But the biggest issue is that parents want badly to be liked. Instead of giving their kids what they need, parents give the kids what the kids want. It's easier that way, easier for the PARENT."

"Dude, have you been listening to Dr. Laura?"

"George, the family has been turned on its ear. If you want evidence, look at television and the movies. Precocious kids run their homes and the parents, particularly the fathers, are portrayed as bumbling idiots."

"Dude, you need to cut back on the caffeine."

"There is an advertisement running on television right now that is all too telling, George. The fathers are out in their neighborhood when the ice cream truck passes through. It's an ad for some packaged food, see, and all the dads drop what they're doing and chase after the truck like - like THEY are the kids."

"I haven't seen that one, dude."

"George, kids need their parents now more than they ever did. We're assaulted every day with images on television designed to inflame every urge. There are more dangers and temptations out there than ever and kids need guidance, George. ADULT guidance."

"Hey, dude?"

"An interesting study came out recently about horror movies. One researcher said they coincide with the breakdown of the family. The movies often depict a teenager in danger who has no parents to turn to for help. The teens are left to fend for themselves. What is terrifying is that this is how it is for millions of kids these days, George."


"So it seems to me, George, that maybe we'd all be better off if parents were more like they used to be. They didn't take parenting courses, but they instinctively knew what was best for their kids. They knew their job wasn't to be their kid's best friend, but to take responsibility for sculpting, refining and protecting their child, so the child would grow into a healthy adult."


"Parenting is quite a job, George, and often an unpleasant one. Being a parent means you're going to face a lot of friction, but friction is what turns a rough piece of diamond into a polished gem."


"Yes, George?"

"Dude, you've got to lighten up. As I said, this is a special day - my special day - so can't you blow off your homework and your chores and come have some fun with me?"

"All right, George, if that is what you want me to do."

"Cool, dude. I'll go get the skateboards."

"George, there's one last thing."

"What's that, dude?"

"Happy Father's Day. Dad."

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© 2002, Tom Purcell