Most things we hear about child rearing are wrong

March 26, 2011

Roger Freberg

OPINION by Roger Freberg

When one first embarks on the role of parenting, hopefully it is with a sense of humility. This is one of the few tasks in life that we are expected to learn on our own. Learning how to procreate isn’t all that difficult and fun, so how hard can being a parent really be; after all, we have so many people offering useful, life sustaining and treasured advice. The problem is that most of the advice you hear or read is just wrong.

After raising three daughters to adulthood and surviving to tell the tale, I have a few cautionary items to share with young parents. Here are some of the many faulty concepts out there that will take you to a place you really don’t want to go:

UNCONDITIONAL LOVE

Wow. Just hearing this makes me feel all warm and fuzzy. The idea of being loved by someone despite all my faults and consistently bad behavior sounds intriguing. But what is the reality here?

People today are fond of separating who we are from what we do, but can you really do that? At what point did local mass murderer Rex Krebs stop being a “good” person making “poor choices” and start being just a totally, all-out evil guy? I bet you don’t know that most mass murderers in our society have moms who still say that they “love them?” Some mothers actual wax on about how their adult children are really “good boys and girls.”

Of course we love our children, but human beings, and nature as well, are totally conditional. “Conditional” is very close to the word that some people are told to avoid and that is “judgmental.” However, life and nature is very judgmental. The slowest bunny may be the cutest and fluffiest, but it’s going to be some other animal’s dinner. Where is the “social justice” here? In raising children, what is reasonable?  It’s not bad to have age-appropriate standards for your children and to (gasp) judge them against those standards. It’s not unreasonable to expect your child to EARN your positive regard, instead of handing it to him or her on a silver platter. Young developing beings need structure and before your child can be the accomplished person that you wish them to be, they must first learn to follow. Children can and should learn to act in the kind, thoughtful, pro-social ways that naturally make others think positively. Failing to act when a child behaves horribly is neither a favor to the child, to you or to society. The first step for a child to be loved by others is to understand what it takes to be loveable.

If your little darling behaves like a monster in public, to see the fault, look in the mirror.

PARENTS CAN BE A CHILD’S BEST FRIEND

This is normally not the arena of Dads. Dads tend to work with their children on goal directed projects and skill development. These sorts of things include: the yearly science project, outdoor activities and the occasional “Dad, I need some help and advice.” In case you didn’t know this, this is a gender specific and cross culture attribute that is probably genetic for guys, get over it.

Moms, on the other hand, have a tendency to seek the role of their daughter’s best friend; which is always amusing when you watch it from the outside. No matter how hard they try, Moms are never hip or accepted as a favored peer. Parenting is nor should it be a popularity contest. Parents have to tell kids things their closest friends would never say, and this can cause some hard feelings. They will not understand why you won’t let them hang out with the ‘cool kids’, visit the creek during Thursday evening’s Farmer’s Market to meet such wonderful new people, nor will they understand virtually every other response from your lips that begins with “NO.”  Trust me, when they get older they will ask themselves,” What was I thinking when I was 12 or 16?” Kids will have many “best friends” in life, but they only get one mom and dad. Besides, normally, they will thank you later on; or you’ll get some justice watching them try to “improve” on your parenting skills down the road as struggle with their own children!

CHILDREN NEED TO CHOOSE THEIR OWN FRIENDS

This is the ‘Russian Roulette’ of child rearing. Kids are naturally influenced by their peers (some more than others), and if the peers hold values different than those at home, home is going to lose. Even when parents don’t think they’re choosing their child’s friends, they influence this choice every time they choose a home in a particular neighborhood or enroll their child in sports (BTW, soccer is not a real sport. There are lessons that can be learned in both team and individual sports, do both) or summer camp. Kids need to feel comfortable with all types of children, so exposure is essential, but if you don’t want your child to develop new and interesting habits, you need to make sure their friends don’t share values you abhor (also helpful to know the parents as far too many leave and turn their house keys over to their underage children).

BTW, years ago, I was told that the reason that SLO High didn’t have a drug sniffing dog was because of some genuine concern that too many of the parent’s cars were going to get a positive hit. ;)

SCHOOL AND TEACHERS: INSPECT WHAT YOU EXPECT

Do not assume your children are learning everything they need to learn in school, and you might be surprised about what they ARE learning.  Read their textbooks. My personal favorite is the middle school social studies book that talks about “tolerant” Huns. I just read recently that Genghis Khan killed so many people that he actually reduced global warming—lands formerly farmed by the butchered innocents reverted to forest. Tolerant? Okay, if you say so….

Educators on the left discovered some years ago that college was “too late” to convert children to their particular take on life. They have remedied this problem by turning their attention to the K-12. Talking with your child about what ‘they heard at school’ goes a long way to addressing the problem. You may not be able to change the school curriculum, but that doesn’t mean you have to live with it. Find subjects and things to talk about that are interesting and expose them to new ideas, technology and meaningful skills. As you become a useful resource, the school fades – as it should — in importance.

THERE’S NO PLACE LIKE SLO

Well, maybe not, but there are certainly many nice places to live. Before you know what you like, you need to get out and look. We made sure our daughters traveled with us at every opportunity. We wanted to make sure they were as comfortable on 5th Avenue, downtown Rio, and Beijing as they were on Broad or Higuera. You’ll notice that the local kids who go away to school (and that doesn’t mean down the road to Davis or UCSB) generally have outstanding outcomes. You may have to take far fewer trips than if it was just the ‘two of you,’ but being a family also means having fun together in meaningful ways.

When one of my daughters snooty classmates bragged about her long vacation in Hawaii and turned her little evil middle school girl-glance to my daughter, my daughter simply responded,”…but have you been to Fiji?”

“The world is a book, and those who do not travel, read only a page.” –Saint Augustine

Yes, Oprah thinks SLO is happy, but she clearly didn’t notice that all of the happy places on this guy’s list were non-diverse. Oops. But what are the other pitfalls of a place like SLO?

Number one on the list is drugs. People don’t seem to notice this, but rural areas like SLO have much worse drug problems than inner cities. Now, this is not as big a problem for far too many SLO parents, who are fond of saying “everybody does it,” or “a little marijuana doesn’t hurt.” But if that’s not your thing, you need to recognize you’re going to get shouted down, and you have to be very vigilant, especially at home.

BEING WITH YOUR FRIENDS IS MORE IMPORTANT THAT BEING GOOD AT SOMETHING

At one athletic even, a young lady told my daughter, “oh, I would never want to be as good as you, because I wouldn’t have enough time to spend with my friends and I would have missed all the good times.” Really? The illogic of this is huge. Not only do hard-working successful kids tend to have lots of friends, but they build their skills, too. Teens with lots of time on their hands tend to find things to fill that time that do not lead to a happy future. My daughter Karla as a young child used to say,” work is good for you!” Although she was really talking about me, I think the idea that becoming successful is coupled with hard work, the development of skills and it all needs to become a habit.

We found the following formula useful:  finding something fun in music and art to develop and understand athletics (one team sport and one individual sport), work towards academic excellence, traveling together, eating meals as a family and gathering after dinner to talk.

IN SUMMARY

This was written for the thoughtful parent who knows the importance and necessity of taking an active role in your child’s personal development to ensure a positive outcome, and I hope you feel empowered to meet the challenges of this tough but noble job head on!  Having children of whom you are proud is not subject to luck, chance or “social justice.” To see positive results, all you have to do is look around the community to the many parents who are quietly reviewing, enriching and augmenting their children’s education to see what really works.

Good Luck!

Roger Freberg is a San Luis Obispo resident who is using his retirement to write a culinary-inspired blog, comment on important local events and occasionally enjoy getting sued for his journalistic excellence.


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willie

Caution, unconditional love borderlines spoiling.

Just be “one of” their best friends.


justme

I’ve found good upbringing comes from parents who show real sacrifice. Kids see that and know Mom & Dad love ’em and therefore stay in line because guilt overcomes them when they don’t. You always hear from ghetto kids on up to through the income classes things like,”My mom worked two jobs to raise us kids…..”. You hear this all the time from sucessful sports figures.

I was raised by a single Mom in the projects of Gary,Ind. (yeah, Michael Jackson’s hometown) where crime, violence was rampant. I saw my friends rob, steal and beatup people who didn’t respect their parents because the parents didn’t care enough. I just couldn’t follow them into that lifestyle and hurt my waitress Mom who slaved away.

So Roger, no Bejing, Rio or 5th ave in my upbringing and no college, just actions by a Mom that proved to me that love conquers all. I’m passing that proof of love to my brats, that’s all that’s needed.


Roger, on a differebt note, if we all tell you in unison you’re a wonderful parent, you’re highly intelligent, well, traveled, had great success in life, have superior intellect and are kind enough to share it with all of us, will you then come down to our level? You’re being obvious. I don’t mean to be unkind, but ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ. Love ya, Rog.


justme

always too tired to proof read, guys……………will try harder.


BeenThereDoneThat

Well said. Congrats to your mom.


Roger if you are reading this, this is what parenting is about. Like he said it isn’t just about BRAGGING where you took your kids on vacation.


This (love) is what you hear from why a lot of gangbangers join gangs. Lack of feeling loved. You can’t buy that and sadly a lot of kids don’t get it or feel it from their parents.


BeenThereDoneThat

I found the whole article to be a condescending ego trip but hey it is only the writers opinion.


BeenThereDoneThat

Let me elaborate more. It reminds me of how you hear from the guy who just quit smoking or the born again christian. You are glad for them but you don’t need the preachy attitude.


I have wonderfull kids as do many I know. I don’t stand on the mountain professing to others my greatness and what others are doing wrong when, A) they might not have asked and B) I don’t know for a fact that they aren’t doing a good job.


racket

Roger, I was with you right up until the patent fabrication that “soccer is not a real sport.”


hotdog

Yeah, I was wondering about that since the rest of the world worships this sport. Maybe Roger was proposing the nationalistic (what brought us Hitler and Hirohito-extreme nationalism) bull that only ‘our’ games are real sports. I don’t know but we are a world apart from the world in our foreign policy, ‘sports’ and refusal to embrace the metric system as ordered over 30 years ago by our best President in ages, Jimmy Carter.


amusselm

A passing mention of soccer has resulted in someone bringing up Hitler. Godwin’s law has been confirmed.


racket

… and now you bring up religon? Without doing any research on my own, I can only assume that “God-win” is some kinda all-one Supreme Being that prevails over all.


zaphod

Godwin’s law (also known as Godwin’s Rule of Nazi Analogies or Godwin’s Law of Nazi Analogies)


racket

So you are saying Godwin’s Law is operating in the absence of God? He rules Nazi analogs? Why do you espouse this hate? Why do you keep bringing up these non-related factoids? I thought this was about futbol. Why can’t we all just get along?


amusselm

Did I just fail the Turing test? Racket is starting to sound like a bot. Which would explain it’s name.


racket

For my part, I was working on exemplifying Hanlon’s Razor, but I fear I came off as a run-of-the-internet flame-dolt.


bobfromsanluis

Roger: I am amazed how full of yourself you seem to be in your writings here; good parenting does not have a “left” or “right’ slant, period. As hotdog mentioned, you wrote a pretty good article, up until the part where you seemed like you just could not stop yourself from allowing some partisan political viewpoint to creep in when mentioning “Educators on the left discovered some years ago that college was “too late” to convert children to their particular take on life”; really, give this type of crap a rest already. Just as sure as you might be able to show an example of a teacher with some sort of “left leaning agenda”, I can probably show you thirty or forty other teachers who strive to instill the desire to learn in the minds of our young people and are dedicated to trying to help them learn to “keep an open mind”. It amazes me that “keeping an open mind” is even thought to be some sort of “left wing agenda” now days among the more conservative types in our society; being able to listen without allowing your own prejudice to color your thoughts before most of the facts are discovered would seem to be the best way to learn about some thing or some one.

So Roger, keep up your commentaries here on Cal Coast News, but perhaps you might get a better reception if you could find a way to remove your political colorization of the point(s) you are attempting to make. But I’m not going to hold my breath waiting for you to do so.


ajdury

I wish the concept of *not* having kids got 1/8th the press that procreation receives in the media.


Signed,


Yet Another Happy Childfree-by-Choice Denizen of the Central Coast


OnTheOtherHand

While I am also “Childfree” (largely by choice) and agree that not having kids should be better presented as an option, I have a lot of respect for those who do have children and take their responsibilities as parents seriously.


I know that you didn’t say this, but too many “no kids” adults tend to slam those who do have kids. As much as I would have trouble dealing with kids full-time in today’s “society,” I can appreciate the logic behind a provoking question given to me many years ago. “If intelligent people don’t breed at least as rapidly as those who lack intelligence, what happens to the collective intelligence of the world when there are 5 times as many offspring of the later as of the former?” One can debate some of the assumptions of that query, but fundamentally (and unfortunately) it has serious implications for the well-being of humanity at large.


Thanks to all of you who took (or are taking) the time, energy and resources that you could have used for other pleasures to raise your children with attention, intelligence and love.


hotdog

I was going to send a big hug to Roger for his intelligent look at parenting, instead of the usual abuse of neglect and other modern day crimes of many parents. But then I got to the ‘educators on the left’ rant- what about the educators on the right? Roger should have left his right wing political slant out of this to maintain credibility. The comment “Parenting is nor should it be a popularity contest” does not make any sense, I suppose he means “Parenting is NOT…”

And the Journalistic Excellence touted at the end of the article would certainly benefit from some serious proof reading of the article to remove the numerous typos, spelling and grammatical errors.


justme

I never understood what seemed to be common knowledge that raising kids was so difficult. Mine were always my little re-charging stations I needed after being drained by adults.


hotdog

You are so right on!!! Wish I could give you 50 ‘likes’. Big people are so full of shit most of the time, I find my only solace with children and animals-unless they have already been stained by too much training by those dreaded ‘big people’.


justme

Thanks for including animals, Hotdog. People having a hardtime raising kids need to go to the petstore, not the shrinks.


Booty JuJu

Speaking as a father of three adult daughters who has made every…single…mistake ever made in the parenting history of mankind I can say that this post should be required reading for every parent. Nice work Roger. I would only add that yelling does NOT work…much better results are achieved by simply waving a gun around.