Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Teach Your Children Well

Ignorance is not bliss.

Young people who are 20 years old should know how to dust, vacuum, do the laundry, and take care of themselves.

If they don't, their parents have failed them.

It is not the school's place, the church's place, the government's place, or my place, to teach a child who is now an adult how to put Pledge on a rag and not drown the furniture in polish. If a 20-year-old doesn't know that, then somebody somewhere along the way failed that kid.

Regardless of sex, an adult (that's somebody age 18 and older) should know how to fix food and clean. Those are basic life skills. If they can't do that, and apparently many cannot, then how in the world do parents expect them to accomplish anything at all?

They aren't going to. And maybe parents don't expect them to. I don't know.

I can't know. I have no children. I don't understand how it is to have the little darlings and to hug them and kiss them and keep them infantile until they are 30. You're right, I don't get that. I don't know why parents would not give children chores or include them as part of the household but instead set them apart as some "other" apparently always worthy of techno stuff and trophies, but never worthy of the time and attention needed to actually raise them to be decent, responsible citizens who are respectful of people around them.

My husband has for about a decade now complained about the young people who come in to his line of work and expect to start out at top pay. They don't know how to do anything and they don't want to learn. All they want to do is play video games on X-box and ride around on fire trucks. They don't understand, or care, that the firehouse has to be kept clean, that the trucks need maintenance, that learning to put out a fire safely requires hours upon hours of training.

Mom and Dad never told them they might have to break a sweat once in a while. It's such a surprise to them when they learn they have to work.

My brother, who is a CEO of a medium-sized corporation with multiple branches, has made the same complaint about young people who come to him for a job. They dress shabbily. They spend more time looking at their phones than answering questions in interviews. Their parents bring them to the interview! Why would he hire a person like that?

If a 14-year-old can't babysit, do chores, bake a supper, do the laundry, and clean up a room, if not the whole house, that child is not a successful kid. I don't care how many As or baseball trophies are in that kid's room. That kid can't take care of his or her self and is therefore a failure in basic self care.

My grandmother was giving birth to my mother when she was 14. Her six children were all potty-trained before they were two. I was potty-trained before I was two. Today I see young mothers on my Facebook page talking about whether or not their four-year-old is old enough to be potty trained. Please. I know a woman who had five kids who taught every single one of them to use the toilet before they turned a year old. They weren't damaged, and neither was I. But I predict a kid who is still pooping his pants at the age of four will be in therapy later in life.

Schools and colleges complain about these things - teachers talk about how little children know, how they can't even take care of basic things like washing up for lunch. Colleges complain about helicopters parents who hover over their children and keep them infantile. Why would a parent want to do that?

We were watching a silly show on one of the science channels the other night about homesteading. This family of four was about to die of starvation because a 23-year-old boy and a teenaged girl weren't helping. The parents were doing it all, trying to chop wood and garden and all the other things it takes to live like that. The kids were, well, playing on their cell phones, I guess. They certainly weren't involved. And that, the homesteading expert pointed out, was their biggest challenge, the lack of involvement by all in the group. It wasn't snow or heat or snakes that was going to do them in - it was the fact that these parents had not given their children a work ethic.

When I was 20, I was married and keeping a house. And I kept a neat, clean home and took care of a garden. I worked full time and went to school part time. I failed to have children, but not for lack of trying. I was sick a lot and I still worked hard.

I realize that was nearly 35 years ago. But some things do not change. People need to be able to care for themselves and their surroundings. And apparently, young people today cannot do these things. These are the same people who one day will be taking care of me when I am old and infirmed, and if they can't figure out how to use a damp mop, then I despair of their ability to help me with a bed pan.

It is not child abuse to give children responsibilities. Every member of a tribe for thousands of years has had responsibilities. Little children from very early ages learned to gather firewood and tend to minor chores; they have done that for as long as humans have walked the planet. And now, what? They're too tender, too soft, or too special to be part of the community?

This is, I think, the result of the "me" generation which has not taken the time to properly raise their offspring. Mothers busy working and fathers busy working apparently haven't the time to teach little Darling how to use the washing machine. Although my mother worked full time and sang in a band on the weekends and we lived on a farm and my father worked full time and sang in a band and we lived on a farm, and I learned that stuff. So well, that's an excuse, not a reason. The reason? It is easier for the parent to tell Darling to go sit in front of the TV or the video game, and Darling learns diddly squat.

I have relayed before various incidents with children in recent years, how they scream and cry, run around in restaurants, and generally act like wild heathens while their parents play Candy Crush or whatever they're doing. They ignore the fact that the kids are creating a ruckus. It all goes back to attention and proper parenting. Letting kids run wild is not appropriate or proper parenting. Parents are creating monsters, not citizens.

I did not have an easy childhood. My parents were tough on me and I resented - and still resent - some of that. But they also gave me a work ethic and taught me how to do the things that a person needs to know how to do, like cleaning and laundry, and for that I am grateful. I never fared well at gourmet cooking like my mother, but my husband and I haven't starved and if I have to I can whip up a decent dinner without too much thought or effort. Even now, while I am ill and under specific doctor's orders not to do certain things, I still work to keep my house clean and things under control.

I fear there are parents out there who will want to tell me I don't know what I'm talking about. But before these parents respond with emotional anger and bristles up, I hope they ask themselves why what I have written bothers them.

Then I hope they wonder if maybe if it isn't because they know, deep down inside, that I'm right.

And if that is the case, then I hope that tonight somewhere some parent takes a child aside, and shows him or her how to sort out the whites from the colors and use a washing machine.


  1. This lack of engagement is the result of the transformation of people from participating citizens into passive consumers. A deliberate transformation: our sacred economy demands we go out to buy stuff to produce profits and growth. This demand is so insistent that banks are now considering charging people negative interest rates because they are (gasp) not spending their money but saving it. Any such conservation of one's resources is absolutely verboten by neoliberal economies, which insist we do just one thing: spend, spend, spend. With our politicians (most of them) also focused on just one thing, the economy, and aiding a process which has led to the widest income gap since democracy began which enriches the few, not the many, while nervously eyeing those left behind and arming the police to put down any revolt against this outcome, I don't even hear voices raised to question let alone challenge these policies. Those that do know they will be mocked and ruthlessly attacked by people who truly are incapable of conceiving of an alternative. "It's the economy, stupid," has come round to bite us. We are letting it run us!


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