Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Oy, Am I Sticking My Neck Out Here......

Lately I have been inspired to go off into wild rants just from reading certain confounding and amazing (?) things in other people's blogs.  Not incendiary, inflammatory  kinds of things....just innocuous, ordinary every day matter-of-fact statements about their lives.

It is a given that my life has been very different from many of the bloggers who live in this wonderful cyberworld and that other so-called "real" world,  but still, so many things that others seem to take for granted as incontrovertible truths are .....well.....baffling and unacceptable to me as such. 

Granted, one reason for this is undoubtedly the fact that I chose not to have children....not the two legged kind anyway.  I can not contradict anyone who says, "Easy for you to say such and such....you have no kids so you don;t know".  I agree completely and in one way I am almost ashamed to be expressing publicly some of the thoughts which will slop over onto you if you choose to continue messing up your minds and your nice clean clothes with my wild ramblings.

I quote below an excerpt from a blog whose writer I admire and adore.  Singling this phrase out in this way is not meant to be nasty or any kind of punishment and I will not identify my source because the idea expressed is universal....it could be from any one of you out there.  I chose it because it represents perfectly one of the gazillion things I don't understand in this world.

"I cooked a delicious ........for dinner tonight. Well... when I say delicious I mean delicious to me. My boys picked their way through it in the way only children can. I had chopped squeezed and blended herbs, lemon zest and juice to within an inch of oblivion. The chicken was covered in a zingy marinade and still they pondered it in the same way you and I might ponder road kill."

When and under what strange circumstance did children from the ages of 1 to about 16 (or 28)  receive the right to start making the rules about everything?  I find it intolerable enough that my television fare is created to suit the taste and whims of that  underdeveloped sub- adult group and foisted upon me to eat whether I like it or not.........(and sadly, eat it I often do if I cannot find anything better on the tube to distract me.)  I will not expand this theme to include all the other areas of life in which these children are dictating the form, the taste and the sound of everything.  If I got started I would probably still be here feebly tapping or with gnarled fingers poised on the keys at the moment they come to take me off to the boneyard.

What I need to know and beg all of you out there who have the answers to tell me.......do parents and adults have no power whatsoever anymore?    Are parents nothing more than willing and eager providers and subservient slaves to their offspring from birth until the little darlings move out, start their own lives and dump the grandchildren on the old folks to be babysat?  Is there no weapon in a parent's arsenal that will cause even a modicum of the fear of retribution in a child these days?   That is the word I wish to blog about....FEAR.

I ask in all seriousness and humility, ......What the fuck is going on?  What in the hell is wrong with raising a child to fear a certain punishment under certain circumstances and thereby to avoid bad behavior and aggravating their parents beyond the bounds of sanity?   It is not as if fear is an unknown quantity to the young....they fear all sorts of rational and irrational things like not having the newest $120 jogging shoes or  not having the latest iphone gadget or, worse yet,  not getting invited to the prom.  But fear of punishment for misbehaving seems to be an absolute No-No.

I know that 99% of you out there are either laughing your asses off at me or girding your loins and donning your armor and weapons for attack, but I think I can safely say without fear that, at no time before in recorded history did the children run things like they do today.  I know that within my blessedly long lifetime there has never been a time before where parents apparently had no means of exerting parental control over something as simple as what food their children would or would not eat.  (Oh, I am not talking about a single phobic resistance to brussels sprouts here.....everyone should  be allowed some food fetishes....I, for instance, have about 4 foods on a list that I will not willingly eat.....brains, tripe, cooked or chocolate covered insects and slimy okra........oh yes, and I think I would not want to eat haggis which I understand is a stuffed sheep's belly,  but it is years since I have been offered or have had to hurt anyone's feelings by  refusing any of the above.)

When I was a child back in the dark ages I (and all of the children I knew, encountered briefly or read about in  books)  were always in fear of certain dire punishment, rarely imposed, but always hovering there behind the drapes, keeping me from pushing my plate of lovely meat and vegetables rudely away and demanding pizza.  By enduring this cruel and dreadful inhuman and inhumane treatment I managed to grow up adoring food in all its myriad forms and literally never fearing to try something new or even outlandish.   Without that fear I acquired a WorldBook Encyclopedia of possible dishes to delight my palate....so tell me, .is that so terrible?

We seem to be a people who fear to instill any respectful,sensible fear of any kind into our children, not even for their own good. (Thank heaven we are still allowed to teach them to fear the hot stove and running with scissors.)   And yet as adults we are riddled with a million identifiable and nameless fears.  Let us look at only one example...........the fears generated by most of the established Religions.  The fear of punishment by God (our Father, by the way) permeates every morsel of all the Religions (except, perhaps, Zen Buddhism)   Most of us live in fear of some kind of hell and its endless horrible torments.  We behave in a more or less civilized way because our Religions have strict rules and  punishments for disobeying which are frightening enough to keep us somewhat in line.  And, when we stray, the pain and torture of guilt self-punishes us far beyond the extent of the crime or the sin.  And still we worship the Father (and the Mother) who impose these rules and this pain and fear upon us.  Go figure.

By living within  these constraints of our fears, most of humanity behaves fairly decently at least part of the time, has managed to accomplish some great and good deeds and has not yet succeeded in destroying everything God has created.   So if it is good enough for us as adults, please tell me why isn't it good enough for our children?


  1. I don't have the answer to your questions, but I can say that my choice not to have kids is certainly a point of contention with A LOT of people.

    So what I don't get is, when I can see the hardships and crap parents go through with their kids, and the stress that strips years off a parents life, WHY would I choose to have children?

    You are right, out of fear.

  2. The biggest problem with today's unruly obnoxious arrogant self-entitled children is that we have hamstrung every adult in connection with them by fear (yes, the very fear you talk about) of getting FIRED if you dare say or do anything to upset the little darlings. (And, the little tyrants know it.)It's a world gone mad.

    If you recall in the 60s, every one tried to emulate the Native American way of raising children -- all love and let them run free and they'll choose on their own to do right and be good. What no one thought about was that the Native Americans had over 400 gazillion acres of land to let the little monsters run free, they squeezed their babies nostrils tight to prevent them from crying out so they wouldn't be heard when enemies were after them, and the most important thing that child had to do when it grew up was get older, make more babies, and so on. AND THEY HAD CHORES! If they didn't like what went on in the tribe, the left, or were pushed out. BUT, they NEVER ruled the roost and when they were deemed adults, they better damn well take on those responsibilities and not expect mommy and daddy to support them forever.

    So, some educators, themselves graded on a curve, decided that this was a far superior way to raise children. Everything the child touches has to have a smile or be a primary color or have a beat, and round corners. That's why you see so many foreign children surpassing American children. They have parents who believe in being parents (not pals) and being in charge. They could make choices when they paid their own way. My kids? They knew God made me older and expected me to be the adult. I just told them they lost the draw and got a lousy mom, and deal with it. [Off soapbox] Dangnation, I promised myself I wouldn't get worked up about this... darn it.

  3. *sigh*

    There's a lovely catch 22 that no one bothered to tell me about when I got preggers with the eldest child, and was still skipped over when I was got with the little one. We as parents are expected to have disciplined, well-behaved children. Fair enough.

    The catch?

    Somewhere along the lines it became socially unacceptable to actually DISCIPLINE children. No, we are to nurture them and be their friend and encourage them and protect them.


    Somehow people got the impression that discipline and nuturing were two mutually exclusive entities. They're not, but when sometimes it seems (in public especially) that everyone watches with a judgemental eye, just waiting for you to slip up and raise your voice too loud so they can get on the phone to the children's aid.... well, how do you have disciplined kids when the laws of social acceptability don't allow you to discipline your kids.

    Myself, to a certain extent I have been able to lay some of the fear of.. well, if not God, the fear of MOM into my kids. And it seems to be working. I get told in public how well-behaved my girls are and sometimes I beam with pride; others I think "Really? Wow, you must not have very high standards for 'well-behaved' if you think that's what these little hooligans are."

    I can't offer what it is with other parents, but I know, sometimes I get sick of saying no. I say no, a lot. I think a lot of parents may have guilt (especially in so-called 'broken' homes) so they want to over-compensate in other ways, whether it's being lax with rules, or being indulgent with material goods.

  4. I think the fault lies with the adults, not the children. "Fault" may not even be the right word. Weakness, if you like, for want of a better word.
    What we as adults do to a large extent is to please ourselves, not the children. We feel good at giving them toys, video games,etc. How else would you explain parents throwing a birthday party for a hundred people, food, music, and all for a two-year old who doesn't understand a thing and would be happy with just a stick lollipop?

    We refer to children as a white piece of canvas. You can color it any which way you want. If you end up with the color purple, and it happens to be the wrong color by whoever's opinion, then it's your fault or your doing, not the kid's. I firmly believe we can discipline our children in any way we want, provided we start early enough, in the same way that you can shape the bamboo, or a molten tray of lead, into anything, before they harden.

    My two cents, Lo. It may have not answered directly your question, but that's how I always feel about parent-child relationship.

  5. I SO hear you on this, Lo! But then I have always hated children, and NEVER wanted one of my own.

  6. My children feared the humiliation that I would pour over them in public if they misbehaved. Example: At the grocery store checkout child "wants" something and continues to whine for an item even when "no" was the answer. Once I started singing You Can't Always Get What You Want out loud and proud at the checkout stand no more did child behave in this whiny manner. If child was tempted to misbehave, I only had to say that I heard the angels singing and they knew I would break out in song no matter what.

    My weapon of choice for raising my children came from the guru known as Mick Jagger. To this day, they do not like the song that I adore.

    Additionally, one child worked at Disneyland and has the same observation as you. She also hates strollers. Please read her posts here:

  7. I totally agree with one of your other bloggers Lo,,It is the adults that have failed more than the kids, I raised 5 blessed children that are priceless to me, They knew the rules,,their chores, supper was at the same time every night,,AT THE TABLE,,we all ate the same thing, and enjoyed it. It was not unusal to hear Yum Mom..this is good! When they did misbehave it was a given that they would be punished,,,We didn't beat them relentlessly with a belt, or make them kneel on rice..It was mostly grounding,,That hurt more than anything,Now they have all grown, moved out of the house, are very loving children who would do anything for me, especially since their father passed away, but somewhere between the time they left home, and now, I became a real selfish wimp. I have some serious medical problems, and can't do the things I used to. Now, I need help and maybe because they were good kids, lost their father, I feel subconciously that I need to reward them by not asking for help. I have had myself in such a quandry until the best friend I have ever had gave me the best advice I have ever had,,,I am depriving my children of the gift of helping "Mom",,,and I have. So now, I will ask for help, which I know I will get, and feel nothing but gratitude, not guilt. Thank you so much, my dear dear friend.

  8. Yeah, I sure wish I was a kid these days. Life of Riley, right? Spoiled rotten and self-centered is what most of them are. And it's their parents's fault. Sad.

  9. Hahaha Maybelline, you are a woman after my own heart!

  10. I am not laughing or donning armor. Bravo! Well said! We are at least one or two generations into a period in which many (most?) parents have decided they can't be bothered with behaving like parents, which makes me wonder why so many people have kids in the first place. (They can't all be accidents!)

  11. I think a lot of it is "fallout" from the "Broken Family" generation were neither (so-called) parent wants to be seen as the bad guy when they have custody of the child(ren). The mindless pandering is to try to "buy love" and ... sadly... it ain't gonna.

  12. Fear is part of it. Yes, i know people who've had CPS called on them and had it be cleared, but it's still scary.

    As for the "what they eat" dilemma, since every restaurant now offers a kid menu with trash on it, instead of giving kids smaller portions of the real food the parents are eating, what else do they expect? You can't cultivate a taste in them for what they never receive.

  13. Dearest Lo, please continue to cover me with your wild ramblings. I love them!

    I have never wanted children. My boyfriend lives in hope that I'll change my mind but at 42 with a nice life I can't see it.

    There are some wonderful children around but 99% of them I find boring and high maintenance.

    I did a post a while ago which I think will make you smile...


    Love, C xx

    And thank you for your wonderful comments. The feeling is entirely mutual xx

  14. Well- I'm not going to get into the religion thing because I don't believe that the fear inspired there prevents anyone from doing anything but that's just me. Look at the pedophile priests. (For God's sake!)
    But with the kids I think something of a huge cultural shift happened when mothers began to work outside of the house when their children were babies. Go ahead- attack me on this one but I think it's true.
    I think the parents, knowing somewhere in their hearts that quality cannot make up for quantity, and feeling incredibly guilty about all the hours spent away from their children, began to look for a myriad of ways to "make up" for that. And thus, discipline sort of slipped out the back door as guilt took over.
    Also, families have become smaller. What would once have been impossible- the coddling and extra-doing for one or two children would have been impossible (and unthinkable) when there were four or five or even ten children in the house.
    Lo, I think it's a lot more than a lack of fear. I think this a huge and complex situation. And I have only offered a few explanations that I have come up with.
    I love you, honey.

  15. Recently I was asked if I regretted not having children. My response was, without hesitation, "it was the best decision I've ever made!" Now at the age of 65 I do not have the grandchildren to look after, whether I want to or not. Children are messy and annoying, often ungrateful and demanding.

    I've never understood what it is in people that made them decide to have children. My grandmother told me once, "having children is terribly over-rated."

  16. Hi Lo,
    I started to write a comment, and then decided to write a whole post! http://gotnocats.blogspot.com/2011/05/giant-parenting-soapbox.html

  17. Whump. Gasp. I just read Betsy's beautiful rebuttal to my blog and I am feeling....well...lots of things. One of them is gratitude to Betsy for making me realize how powerful an innocent, if exaggerated, phrase may be in the blog world.

    I am so sorry if I touched sensitive buttons in my rant and sorrier still that much of what I said has possibly been misconstrued.

    Now I have to decide whether to leave the mess in the middle of the sidewalk and slink away or to re-blog and try to clarify some things......give me a few minutes and I will decide.

    Meanwhile, thank you all for some of the most wonderful and meaningful comments I have received or read on other blogs. You guys are incredible.

  18. You and Betsy both make good points. I've used her "this is dinner" dialogue verbatim for years now (subtext: I'm not your f*ing short order cook) but I also believe that if kids were more scared of their parents, there would be no sex tapes on the internet.

  19. I just read your post, your May 3 post, and Betsy's post, and between the two of you you said everything that oughta be said. It's an interesting topic and I suspect different children require different responses, but consistency is good. I didn't fear my parents, but they made it very clear what was expected of me, and certain kinds of behavior (disrespect, for sure) were so out of line I can't even imagine considering it. It was not tolerated. I most certainly did not get my way, but I never once doubted their profound love. I think they might have been geniuses.

    I actually admire certain modern parenting techniques, but not when they result in the child running the show. I don't think that does the child any favors at all. I don't know if you ever read this post but I suspect you'd appreciate it, Lo.

  20. Oh I think you're right. Just know it's not ALL parents. Mine eat what I put on the table, and must behave. I think some parents confuse love with being indulgent. I think it shows love to raise a child to be a fully functional and well-behaved adult.

  21. Well, you're right apart from the fear and the religion thing. :-)

  22. Hello
    Sorry, could you just delete my comments please? Google has decided to stop me being anonymous and that was not our deal. I'd much appreciate it, and I don't seem to be able to find a way to delete them myself.
    Thank you.

  23. (Sorry I should have said they're the previous two comments, under the name "Fien.")