Friday, November 13, 2009

Who is raising your kids?

Alright I have a question. And I really want you to think about this. Why did you have (or do you want) children? Was it because you just wanted them? Was it because you wanted to pass on the family name? Was it because everybody was pressuring you by saying “when you going to have a child?” Did these same people offer the advice that, “you will never be ready” in an address to your concerns? Or was it because you consciously thought, “I am a good human and member of the community and I want to pass my intellect and value system on to another generation?” I would hope that the later was the most predominate drive for you decision. Let us face it, if you are raising children with little more then your physical traits, whose moral and ideological traits are they carrying on.

So are your children being taught your beliefs and morals or are they just more sources of energy that feeds the “Matrix”? For those unfamiliar with the actual premise of this movie, it was about machines that take over the world. 99% of the world is kept asleep by machines and used strictly for their body heat to generate the energy they need to power the machines. A select few wake up, or are awaken to find their whole world as they knew it was just a computer generated dream. They battle to try and wake the rest of the world up. It isn’t quite so easy as just finding where the bodies are kept and shaking them. Most don’t want to be awakened. They wouldn’t know how to function outside the Matrix. Could your children survive if they had to grow up in the world of your parents or grand parents? Before fast food, credit cards, health insurance, 30 year mortgages, and nonstop video entertainment. Outside the distraction of the marketing blitz. Outside the matrix?

I have mentioned in previous posts that children of the agricultural age of economics had a way different purpose then the children of the industrial and service based economics of today. If you farmed as a livelihood children are assets. The more you have, the more help you have to tend to the needs of the far, and them more you can generate from it. Farm based families often are large. No need for babysitting, everybody was a stay at home parent, and families spent most of their lives together. In the industrial based model, children are liabilities. They do not contribute to the income of the family, and in fact they cost resources. The child of a factory worker and a nurse has to have a babysitter and eventually an education system to care for them. Children of the modern world have totally different roles in life that lead to all kinds of dysfunctions depending on their stations.

Let us do some logic here. According to the be Bureau of labor statistics, the average person puts in 36.7 hours per week. We’ll call it 37 hours for easy math, and say that the average is 7.4 hours a day. The national average commute time to work is 25 min each way. I think it would be acceptable to say that the average person take 20 min to get ready for work. So, just on work related obligations we spend about 8.5 hours of the daytime getting ready for work. So let us assume your day starts when you wake at 6:30 AM. No way to tell, but if you consider the suggested average for children up until their teen years is 12 hours a day for sleep, but the reality is closer to 10 hours. So up until 11 years old at least we are shipping out children off at 9 PM to wake them up at 7 am for school. Once we get home the average American has to get dinner ready, keep up with home chores, and take some time to address individual obligations. But as you are pulling in the driveway at 3:30 as the kids are getting off the bus, you have 5.5 hours to cook dinner, eat dinner, clean up after dinner, get the kids ready for bed, and do all the other nightly duties. I don’t think it is much of a stretch to say that at best, the average American has about 2 hours to influence their children. The question is then, do they? Or are they pre-occupied with extracurricular self interests? This is worth restating. Out of a 24 hour day, 14 of them waking hours, the average American parent has 2 hours of influence.

If we consider this, is it any mystery that our children conduct activities that make us say, “I didn’t teach them to walk, talk, dress, or act that way.” “They didn’t learn to do drugs, be violent, or make unhealthy personal choices from me.” Of the time people do spend with their children how much of it is spent punishing them for behaviors they don’t approve of? When you are not influencing them, who is?

In my area we have “pre-school” that starts as soon as your kid is potty trained. There are also business that seemingly offer something positive such as “gym”. To my observation this is where busy parents dump their children off so they can get some errands done. Parents leaving to strangers to teach their children to run, jump, dance, tie their shoes, and other physical activities. Missing completely the point that there is great value in a child seeing their parents do these things. This goes on as early as 3. In these environments there are so many sources of input developing your child’s personality that you can’t possibly be aware of. From the teachers to the other students, they all have an influence that might be in counterproductive to how you want your child raised. Many of these stimuli come in forms most often other then just verbal exchanges. Here your young children will meet others who lie, are violent, bully, or worse. What will your children learn in order to be accepted?

Let us say the weekend comes, and the typical person has free time. How often is that free time spent doing self indulging activities such as watching sports, drinking with friends, fishing, hunting, shopping, working out, working in the yard, fixing up an old car, golfing, or whatever your hobby is? How much of that time are you spending with your 2 to 8 yr. old? For most people they do not include their young children in these activities. Your children are awake, they are with somebody. Maybe they are with the other parent who is showing spite and frustration with you because you are out “doing your thing” while they are “trapped” at home with the kids. You, of course, are thinking that you put a “hard week at work and are getting some personal time in to relax”.

Throw into this mix the ever growing demographic of children being raised in a “split family” environment to the confusion and another whole new set of issues arise. Children being passed back and forth between two parents who now both have to work to make ends meet. The result is a child who has lost the sense of identity, a confused understanding about relationships, and forced to find somebody to give them the guidance on life’s most basic issues. At that age the amount of attention is directly related to the depth of love they feel. And then these children grow up to be parents, “just like mom and dad”.

Is it asking too much to teach your child how to tie their shoes, run, jump, hike, play, or work? Can you not teach them that “A is for apple”? Do you have the capacity to teach them basic math, language, and reading skills? If the reason you can’t is simply because of time, then you didn’t understand your requirements for parenting all that well. Somebody should have been expected to be home. They are requirements all the same. They will be met by somebody. That somebody may not have your best interest at heart. So if you are wondering why your teenaged daughter is pregnant or your teenaged son is facing a prison sentence and you think, “I never taught them to be that way”, you are right. You never taught them to be any way. Somebody else did.

So again I ask, are you raising children into people with your set of moral grounding, or did you just produce another warm body to feed the matrix? Another person to make all the same mistakes you did and eventually gets their life in order just in time to repeat the process? Your child doesn’t need sports, education, hobbies, or discipline to become a healthy well grounded person. All of these are in lieu of the one thing they do need. Your time.

I’ll end on this note. Include your children in activities. Yes, it is dangerous to have a child in a garage while you work on that old car, but nowhere near as dangerous as ignoring them. Take your 2 yr old outside to work on the yard with you. It will take you twice as long to do it, but it will be time well spent. Explain to them while you are doing it why it is important to you to keep your space looking pleasant. Let me let you in on a little known secret. Most of your friends really don’t like you. Your young child looks up and respects you. They want to know everything about you. Give them your time to teach them. Do it before they give up on you and seek enlightenment from somewhere else. The really important lessons, get down to their level, look them in the eye, and make sure they understand that you are serious. Follow up by demonstrating these lessons yourself. If you don’t want them to lie, don’t lie to them. If you don’t want them to give up when things get a little rough, don’t let them see you give up. Despite what the media might tell you, there are things way more dangerous in this world then the “swine flu”. Ignorance is on top of that list.

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