The Sons And Daughters Of The Future

Almost twenty three years ago, right after I’d given birth, I was handed this slim pamphlet that started with how I couldn’t hope to mold my child.  I remember one phrase, which is still stuck in my craw: “Your children aren’t yours.  They’re the sons and daughters of the future.”

At the time I wasn’t sure if the nausea was from that sentence or from the morphine they were pumping into me, (because I had a massive uterine infection, due to three days hard labor.)

Now I’m fairly sure it is that sentence.

There was a comparison to children as arrows, shot from a bow, and you couldn’t control how they flew.

Right now I’m seeing every competition archer among my readers (and my husband used to be one) cringing and going “what do you mean you can’t control it?”

Actually the arrow thing is a good analogy.  Yes, part is how you shoot it, and part is in the wind, and the way it plays, and…

In the same way, some of your kids’ traits are genetic (a lot of them surprisingly so.  My second child is exactly like my dad, and my older child has a way of reminding me of my paternal grandmother, who died a year after he was born.) and some of them will be upbringing.  And some of them you can’t control.

For instance, in making me who I am, there are genetic traits – I come from a family of singularly stubborn people and terribly stubborn women, and also of people who like telling stories.  On both sides – but also the place and time I grew up in, and incidental things in my upbringing.  Given my temperament, if I hadn’t been sickly at a time when the society hadn’t yet processed the existence of antibiotics, for instance, (and so where quarantine and bed rest were strictly enforced for anything more serious than a sneeze) and therefore spent days upon days alone, in a room that didn’t even have a window (it was a shot gun apartment.  The bedroom was the middle room) I probably wouldn’t have started by telling stories to myself and ended up reading voraciously.  I’d have been out hiking, or climbing walls or something.

And while a lot of what I learned was from my mom and dad, from my grandmother… a lot of it was also incidental.  If my brother hadn’t been ten years older than I (just about) and an engineering student when I was a pre-teen, I’d probably never have discovered science fiction.  And if I hadn’t discovered science fiction at that crucial time, I wouldn’t have ended up being guided in a lot of my thoughts on society and the world by Robert A. Heinlein.  And I wouldn’t be here, now.

Now, none of those influences accounts for me as I’m now.  Not even Heinlein.  After a while, you raise yourself.  And no, my parents could not control how I’d react to the states, or the closed shop market of SF/F ten years ago, or— Any of that.

However, my parents could – and did – give me certain principles.  My dad’s was probably mostly “Never cry.  Legionnaires don’t cry.”  I don’t know how long that saying passed father to son I the family – and dad could see no reason his daughter shouldn’t be equally stoic – but there it is.  There was a warrior ethos there.  Even if you’re bleeding from both knees or if – as I did at eight – you just fell from a cliff (Dad and I used to go cliff climbing) and scraped your back raw; you might be in pain, but if you’re still on your feet, don’t cry and snivel.  It doesn’t make it better and it distresses others.  There was also dad’s strong abhorrence to lying (I get a special dispensation for telling stories.  I hope.) If you did something awful, it was better to fess up.  And you treated your friends and associates fairly.  If someone was your friend, or if someone had done you a kindness once, they’d need to do something fairly horrendous for you to ever turn on them.

Then there was mom who instilled in me the idea that you try your best.  You always try your best even if you work yourself into the ground.  If you can, you do.  If you can’t, you still give it a try — as hard as you can.

And grandma with “to stop is to die.”  You keep trying, no matter how many times you’re defeated.  And if you heart breaks, you continue working from your gut.  And also, you look after the weaker: cats, children, lost animals, strangers.  You look after them, because you’re stronger, and that makes it your obligation.  You don’t pass the buck.  You don’t take the animals to a shelter where they might get killed.  You don’t send the starving stranger to the curate or the civil authorities.  You set the table for the ragged man and treat him as an honored guest.  And you take in the poor dumb brute animals and look after them, and if you can find them a home, you make sure it’s good.  Because you’re strong.  And so it’s your duty.

Those are lessons you don’t lose.  Mostly given by example.  If I’m ever tempted to betray someone, I can see dad’s eyes, and feel him glaring at me across the ocean.  And though grandma is gone, if I fail to help someone – or something – in need when I can, I can hear her clucking her tongue.

What I’m trying to say is that the children might be the sons and daughters of the future.  They will – if everything goes well – see times you don’t know, in ways you don’t know.  But how you fire that arrow is important.  What you can give your children in guidance, and more importantly in example, is as important as your genetics and maybe more important.  Because people aren’t dumb brutes.

I find it particularly interesting that the “let them go, you can’t control them” instruction was being given to beginning parents in the early nineties.  It wasn’t as if we lived in a Victorian society where “honor thy father and thy mother” was graven law, inside every public place.

Was it an attempt at making child rearing a “public” thing?  Certainly we withstood a lot of push for us to put them in daycare starting at three months and give them “quality time” an hour or so a day.

And certainly the dream of public child rearing, collective, has been with us a long time, by people who think society would be better improved by standardizing their principles to everyone.

I even understand – all too well – that if I had been in a traditional job, I’d have had no choice.  Many people have no choice.

But that is the impaired situation, not the one to be elevated to ideal.  Even in that situation, you can usually block a lot of time for your kids.

Maybe it’s me making a virtue of necessity, but we didn’t give our kids much quality time.  What we gave them was quantity time.  I didn’t drop everything to play with Marsh.  Oh, okay, fine… there were rousing games of dinosaurs versus army men, but only when the alien dinosaurs invaded (it was this pack from the natural history museum… never mind.) Sometimes.  But most of the time, he played in the office, at my feet, while I worked.

And Robert would sit at my research desk and do his homework.

I sort of kept an ear out for them.

I continued keeping an ear out for them – and that I could have done even if I’d worked. – it requires finesse and reading between the lines, but you can figure out if one of their friends has a flexible relationship with the truth, and if another is leading them into trouble.  You can guess when the kid has decided not to bother with… oh, math.  And you can redirect.

I remember the thrust of that pamphlet was that you couldn’t.  If your kid decided to join a gang, it wasn’t your fault.  And if your kid didn’t want to finish high school it wasn’t your fault.

Part of it seemed to be to absolve parents from even trying.

I wonder how many people overwhelmed by life (and we’ve been too, a few times) took this as an excuse to just let go.  To let the kids grow up however.  “It’s not my fault.  They’re the sons and daughters of the future.”

Fortunately, I remembered dad and my mom and grandma.  Mom never told me that in so many words, but I knew that if I brought home less than a B I’d have to sleep outside with the cats.  It was sort of understood.  Since I was by nature a slacker, and kept an sf book under my geography textbook, and wrote snarky remarks on the side of my economics test (Well, the teacher WAS a Keynesian) if my mom had decided I was “the daughter of the future” I’d probably have dropped out of school in fifth grade and now be a factory worker in Portugal.

So my kids got that same kind of floor put under them.  “You’re expected to learn.  You’re expected to work hard.  No, you’re not expected to do the best you think you can.  You’re expected to do the best I KNOW you can.”  Robert still shudders when he talks of me standing behind him while he wrote an essay and saying “You’re not illiterate.  Watch verb concordance.”

And part of it was… that quantity time.  Not just the time while we worked, but we dragged them with us on things that interested us.  It was at a lecture about Mars that number two son fell in love with aerospace, for instance.  And we’d sit around reading together.  And we took them with us to lumberyards and groceries and talked.  And of course, if they were headed down a dangerous path we headed them off.

Are we to credit or blame for everything they are?  Of course not.  And we do know parents that tried their best, and yet … well, particularly when impairment or mental illness intrudes, you really can’t help the result much.

BUT for most parents, you can.  And it’s not a matter of being your kids’ best friend.  That’s silly.  They have best friends.  You’re supposed to be their parent, mentor and example.  You’re supposed to say “here there be dragons” and “here there be meadows of great beauty.”  You share more of the reasons with them as they grow, of course, but they’ll get a lot of it even without your saying why or how – from how you behave.

They’ll surprise you.  You’ll find they develop talents and notions you never saw coming.  That’s part of the fun.

And as they grow as adults, they’ll change and move away from the roots you gave them.

The arrow will fly through the air influenced by a lot of things, and well away from you, till you can’t see where it lands – but you gave it that first impulse.  And you made it.  It’s your arrow.

You’re not supposed to shoot blind and then say “it wasn’t my fault” if it doesn’t fly at all, or if it kills someone.

Just because you don’t have complete control, it doesn’t mean you have no control.

My children aren’t the sons of the future.  They’re my sons.  And I did my best to make sure they had a future.

Because that’s my job.  That’s what parents do.  Grandma told me so.

170 thoughts on “The Sons And Daughters Of The Future

  1. And Grandma knows best! Good one, Sarah. I hope you are over your crud, or at least on the mend. How did you manage to give tito me from 800 miles away, when we’ve never actually met?

  2. All of this in its’ entirety, encapsulates the right type of parenting, and the laissez faire foolishness that is preventing the raising of men and women who are capable of standing on their own two feet, who are secure in their sense of self, who are truly confident, and capable of picking themselves up after a fall, dusting themselves off and keep right on going.

    That arrow poem, by Kahlil Gibran, was nice poetry; which I cheerfully admit I enjoyed as a poem. I didn’t consider it life advice for parenting. It assumed too much – that every arrow was well made and could fly, that it would be no different than any arrow ever made, that no flaws would bring it down before it hit a target. Perhaps during his time, it was unthinkable that there would be flawed arrows, or arrows that did not fly true.

    Thank you for writing this. It comes well timed for me, as a parent, to read and take heart from.

  3. I’m an education student, and sometimes shock my classmates by stating that I am not the primary educator, the students’ parents are. They are scandalized by the idea that we, with our (in-progress) degrees and DOZENS of HOURS of clinical experience might be just support cast to parents’ raising their own children.

      1. This is true. It’s a vicious cycle. There have always been parents who refused the responsibility for raising their own children, and others who thought they knew best and that they needed to take over, but now we have the state and much of society encouraging those responsible but more easily plied parents to turn over their children. Independent parents are crushed, pliable parents as well as frankly negligent parents are rewarded, and the next generation grows more and more convinced that this is good because that’s how it’s just been.

        I am glad that more people are gaining the spirit of independence and looking at alternate paths, and leaving families who need the extra help for whatever reason to us.

        1. It is a way of leveling the playing field. Since they can’t force every parent to be an involved parent, they discourage parental involvement to the greatest extent they can.

  4. “After a while, you raise yourself.”
    Yes, If you can. I taught myself more from books than I ever learned in school. I learned more from observation than I ever had wise people tell
    me. I’m sorry to say some people can’t do this. They are the left side of the bell curve and I have no idea how to correct this. Periodic wars help to a degree. They are waitress who has been doing her job for years and still has developed no system to remember which plate goes to which person at the table. The fellow who they know at the emergency room because he cuts himself on a saw, nails his hand down with a nail gun, falls off of ladders and crashes his car every two or three years.
    My parents and my aunt and uncle who I often lived with should have never been allowed to raise children. They taught me much but often not what I needed to learn. Most parents retard their children from speaking by using baby talk, but mine delighted in telling me absurd falsehoods when I’d ask them a question long past the toddler stage. It was a sport to them to make themselves feel superior if they could fool me.
    I learned early not to trust anyone and how to tell when a person was lying. A valuable lesson but not what they thought they were teaching. Then – quite early – when I was eight or nine they started getting upset with me if I didn’t come to them to ask something
    I remember once going to a restaurant with all of them and I was old enough to make my own order. The waitress asked how I wanted my eggs and I said dippy, because my family made up these retarded terms for things instead of using the correct terms. I had to tell the waitress I simply didn’t know any other words for it and she told me the different ways to order eggs and looked at my silent parents like they were insane. Perhaps they were a little.
    My family had this weird habit of making up words and names for everything. If I had listened to my uncle only I’d have never even known the real names of my relatives. My dad was ‘Cake’ to him and I don’t think I ever heard him call her Faye. My mom was ‘Crump’. My uncle Robert and his wife Angela were ‘Buck and Toots’. It went far beyond family, the Oil Minister of Saudi Arabia was ‘George’ to his face. One of the oil company executives, I forget which, was ‘Hambone’. Add to this the fact my family was from Pennsylvania Dutch parents and you add a layer of German syntax and odd words to the mix. I thought it was normal to say ‘Outten der light’ to turn off the lamp.
    . It never seemed obvious to them that I stopped asking them anything because I couldn’t get an honest answer out of them. There was a brief time I knew they enjoyed lying to me that I’d object and say – No, really, tell me the truth. – and they’d laugh and refuse. Then when I was a teen they expected me to treat anything they said with sudden seriousness, That horse had long left the barn.
    Life would have been much easier for me if they’d actually taken the time to raise me as a serious project. Looking back now I see i t as a form of child abuse.

    1. Baby talk doesn’t retard speech development. It EMphasizes the imPORtant stresses, teaches phonemes, and makes speech distinctions easier to hear. (The same thing applies to animals, in certain ways, but obviously speech acquisition isn’t the aim there.) There’s been a lot of studies.

      So yeah, it’s embarrassing, and talking it with kids above a certain age becomes counterproductive, but it would probably benefit adult speech acquisition too if it weren’t so embarrassing as to paralyze us. Woogie woogie woo.

      1. I think with babies, it’s less important what you say than the tone of voice you use. Ever try to talk to a baby and *not* use the sweet high baby voice? It’s almost impossible.

        1. Actually the high baby voice grates on my ears– I use a lower register… it surprises the kid and stops them from crying. I have had tons of experience using various things with children (none of my own, but I was the oldest of nine). I babysat a lot of babies–

            1. I don’t, unfortunately, quite have Michael Dorn’s vocal qualities. I do have a decent baritone voice, and some training / practice (both musically and other stage / public speaking types). I read to them, and got them to read to me when possible.

              My sons got The Hobbit read to them, with voices. Among other things, and yes, they got to watch the Rankin-Bass version… later. I taught them the basics of role-playing games, using straight imagination and story-telling with the ruleset I knew best (D&D) to provide quantification when useful. (paraphrasing one quick example here: “Yes, you can carry and use a sword. You can’t carry a golf-bag full of swords and other weapons and still fight effectively.”)

              I didn’t have all of my attentions in the right places at the right times, but I tried. And so far, looks like I did my part in their upbringing and not just their engendering. Do I wish I could do some of it over? Absoposilutely.

              BUT, and this is a big one, I would not choose to do any less than I did, as a father, Cubmaster, religious lay-leader, disciplinarian, advocate, and otherwise “involved parent”. (Why, yes, even a short stint as T-ball assistant coach….)

          1. It annoys me to hear it…which makes me flinch every time I hear it coming out of my mouth.

            Also, the “raaaw, speaking in third person mommy is gonna get you! RAaaawr– tickletickletickle!!” too cute stuff just slips out sometimes.

              1. And you’re only going to get *that* laugh from tickling them for a year at most. They grow up so fast.

                1. True – I was looking at the young boys (one is 18 now) who are the sons of our apartment receptionist– Ten years now and they are growing up…

    2. The problem with filing parents like that under “Villains, for inspiration of,” is that people will complain about the unrealism of the villains.

      1. Mary,
        The other problem is this is a matter of degree. My family was not that crazy, but my parents loved telling me long elaborate stories I DID NOT BELIEVE, but they thought I did. Like, leave for school in morning and they’re fixing the sofa. Come back and night and notice a full prosciutto on the table. Know mom doesn’t buy them (too expensive) so ask, “Uh. Where did the prosciutto come from.” Parents “We found it inside the sofa leg.” I was FOURTEEN. I rolled my eyes and said “riiiiiiiight” — but they were so invested in my believing it, they still claim I did. They ALSO now call Prosciutto “Sofa leg” — which joined a long list of things that they call by different names. But it wasn’t disabling — just eccentric.
        (What is weird about their being so invested in “you totally believed it” is that we’d had the sofa for 4 years. I’m not saying it was LIKELY it would have fallen in while the sofa was being assembled (most people don’t assemble furniture in the smokehouse) but it COULD have happened in a place like Portugal. Say a million to one chance. The thing is that it would have ROTTED. And at 14, I KNEW that. But see, I was the youngest in the family and they delighted in my being “the baby” so I must believe all of it. No ill intentions, just silliness, and wanting to keep me “young and innocent”.)

        1. All families are crazy in their own ways. Probably time to rewatch My Big Fat Greek Wedding.

          We have a lot of crazy family slang and in-terms, but we did learn the proper names for stuff also. I can see where that would make a difference! Also, my dad would carry the joke to the point that we would be sure to realize it was a joke, because otherwise his dry humor was pretty hard to make out. I was a little worried the first time he joked that dessert would be arsenic, and that we should leave it all to him.

          Of course, there’s also a lot of people out there who are isolated from other members of their ethnic group/village in the old country. So a lot of times people think that some word or dish was invented by their family or is nonsense, when it’s really a common
          thing somewhere else. One of my friends was thrilled to find out that other people cooked eggs the way her mom did,
          and then was a bit appalled at the zillion names for it!

        2. In our family, small mischevious children are called “knix-knooxes” (sing. knix-knoox).
          I have never heard it used outside of my family.

          1. Our family used a term (which I can’t spell) but think it was from a German word meaning rascal. Our family tree includes some Pennsylvania Dutch (ie German).

            1. My Mom grew up speaking a little, for lack of a better term, Cajun Yiddish. I had not idea it was kinda like German until I started taking German in college.

              1. In Cajun Country there is the town of “Kraemer” with such fine “French names as, well, Kraemer, and Schmidt as well as it being just off Lac des Allemands (french for German Lake), and one of the last “traveling” Rabis works a route in Cajun Country, there having been jews in the area from both the french and spanish holding of the land, Not to mention a large number of mostly prairie Cajuns named things like Hidalgo and what not from the original meaning of Creole (a mix of French and Spanish blood. What most call Creole today are what were once called Creole of Color, meaning some black slave blood as well, but that is quite meaningless these days, The Monvoisin family reunions are about 1/4 black these days). But there were a grouping of Jews in the area before even the Acadians came to be there and some Germans moved there afterwards.

                1. Mom’s people were late arrivals (as in, 1870s-80s) from the Strasbourg area. Sounds like they would have fitted in pretty well.

          2. We have badly mangled Basque “curses” from my godfather.

            My mom is still delighted by telling folks about my dad explaining what a “toot-a-loo” was— “It’s a term of endearment. Like fat-head.” (Unlike the word “boosaunt”– sually used with the word “big,” and meaning something like “dumb as a rock thug who’d be named Guido in a b movie, of the ‘make even a slow guy look brilliantly tricky’ persuasion.”)

            1. well, I grew up thinking the local slang for “shut up” was spelled (as soon as I understood there was such a thing as English) beak White. Yep. Be quiet. Probably going back to the Napoleonic wars. 😛

          3. Our family too! How odd to hear that again … At 60, that’s something I hadn’t heard in 30 years … excepting when I told people stories of my childhood.

            Was yours a German household? I’d always thought of it as an “old-country” saying, the kind we heard regularly in our neighborhood of Germans and a few Poles

        3. Stories like that almost make me believe that the fact that my parents couldn’t come close to understanding what I wanted to aspire to was compensated for by the fact that they were as straight as you could imagine.

    3. “After a while, you raise yourself.”
      Yes, If you can. I taught myself more from books than I ever learned in school. I learned more from observation than I ever had wise people tell
      me. I’m sorry to say some people can’t do this. They are the left side of the bell curve and I have no idea how to correct this.

      Intelligence has little or nothing to do with it– as best I can tell, it’s the right side of the bell curve that’s got the worst association, although that might be a cultural sort of thing where intelligence is praised/valued too much.

      Someone can be dumb and not be a fool– and it’s foolishness that stops folks from teaching themselves.

      We learned well from books. We need to not blind ourselves to the folks pulling a Miss Marple– they might even have more sense than we do.

  5. My recollection is that one of the themes of Freakonomics is that children are much less influenced by what their parents consciously do to raise them than by what they observe that their parents are. There’s no correlation between how many shelves of books are in the house and how much the kids read, but a strong correlation between how much the parents actually read and how much the kids read.

    I am inclined to think that the only education is self-education, but that’s probably shortchanging (severely) what kids learn just watching their parents. My dad didn’t read Analog over a saccharine soda when he got home from work to impress me, but impress me it did.

    All of which frightens me to death, as a parent.

    1. Oh so very much this. My parents never just told me rules, they lived by them too. I’ve encountered parents who wail, when Junior is getting into increasing trouble with the law, “but I made him go to church!”. Yep, and he noticed how you behaved the other 6 days of the week, so guess what had the biggest impact? Want your kid to do well in school? Don’t turn into a vegetable in front of the TV, talk to them about interesting things and let them see you enjoy reading too. (And to a certain First Lady, you want kids to eat healthy? Try having all your fancy parties with only carrot sticks for food 😉 Or halz mund, as MY great-grandmother would say. Often. (It’s a not terribly polite way to say stop talking. I never met her, but that phrase percolated down the generations….)

      It’s dangerous to let kids just run wild because it’s too much trouble to guide them, but I also see a danger in the other extreme, where the poor kid is just a vicarious avatar for the parent. Dad never got to be a star athlete, but by gum Junior will be even if he’d rather be in chess club. Mom never got a fancy wedding, but her poor daughter gets Vogue shoved in her face and is never allowed to help rebuild a car engine because she might damage her manicure. There’s a delicate balance between tossing kids in the deep end and never letting them jump in puddles…

      1. The truly weird thing is how often these days parents do BOTH, shuttling kids from the “right” parties to the “right lessons” and yet never bothering to FORM them.

        OTOH my mom never got to have a big wedding, so I had to have one. Eh. didn’t hurt. I just let her go crazy for a day.

    2. There’s no correlation between how many shelves of books are in the house and how much the kids read, but a strong correlation between how much the parents actually read and how much the kids read.

      I don’t know. I read all the time, AND read to them every night for a long time when they were younger, but nether of my boys read very much at all.

  6. “Your children aren’t yours. They’re the sons and daughters of the future.”

    Those things are not contradictory.

    I HATE misleading statements that also leave out important information, in addition to drawing false distinctions.

    Yes, my kids are of the future. They’re also rooted in the past, and growing in the present. Difference between us is that they’re more “of the future” than I am, but to place them at an absolute there is silly and relative, which means it only works if you think you’re the middle of everything…..

  7. Sorry for the errors in my post. It was pre-coffee. I just wanted to add: If we teach by example what would the state teach these children it regards as its own? Bringing the state in (Uncle Sam) makes a very dysfunctional family. Worse than any murderous, dope selling, control freak uncle.

  8. As any metallic cartridge reloader knows very well the arrow analogy applies equally if not more so to ammunition and bullets. Pick the components carefully, or grab whatever is available. Assemble them into a cartridge slapdash or with care and attention. Touch the finished product off to fly free, either with careful observation or blindly into the sky.
    Progress to the final destination is always a combination of effort and luck, your only choice is as to the ratio of those two factors.
    Raised two boys myself so I know whereof you speak Sarah.

    1. And of course that what the bullet ultimately hits is the responsibility of the trigger puller.

  9. That saying must have been in your family since the Romans, Sarah. We North Americans don’t realize just how *old* Europe is sometimes.

          1. Well, there may have been some free companies or something that used legion. That said, I know pretty much squat about the limits of that possibility.

      1. There’s also the Spanish Foreign Legion, which is a bit closer to home. The Spanish Legion was pretty infamous during the Spanish Civil War, so maybe some of the usages crept across the border?

  10. it doesn’t take a village, it doesn’t require that you are your child’s “Friend”, you must be a parent.

    Parenting is a hellishly difficult job, but it is the only one most people do that means anything. Do it as best you can. THAT is the path out of the mess we’re in.

  11. I grew up Southerner in the West and Midwest, because of my parents. I just didn’t realize it, because Sib and I copied Mom and Dad, and my Southern Belle Great-aunt (who also worked for a living starting in the 1930s). Not until I read _The Southern Belle Handbook_, which apparently is supposed to be humor, did I realize that I’d been raised Southern. Among other things, “Sir” and “Ma’am” are automatic, you dress nicely when you go out of the house (as in, your clothes match more or less and you leave your pajama pants and slippers at home), and you keep your promises. And white shoes are only worn between Easter and Labor Day. 🙂

    1. If that is Southern then I had a Southern education lol– I still am careful of walking out of the apartment in anything that looks like a pajama– although I do wear jeans and T-shirts now.

  12. Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward. As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate. (Psalm 127:3-5)

      1. “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”

        1. I’ve heard (but not actually investigated) that that verse could also be translated something like, “Let a child always have his oun way, and when he is old he will still be a spoiled rotten brat.”
          Which still works in this conversation.

        2. My parents combined that verse with “Spare the rod, spoil the child.” When they started quoting, I would end up with welts so I wince whenever I hear any of those verses.

          1. Oy, me as well. I can recall “go cut yourself a switch,” and why you should *never* cut a thin, green shoot for that (pick a stouter one, it hurts less).

              1. Slaps on the hand, a spank with the rubber slipper, for most of the mischief, was enough for us. If we were particularly naughty, several spanks on our butts with the slipper. The belt was THE big “You screwed up BIG time” threat and the mere threat of it was enough to get us to settle the hell down. I don’t think our Dad ever used it more than a handful of times per kid, ever. The belt was usually also followed up with being grounded and/or losing a privilege like video games or watching TV. I think lying was THE big thing (up there with ‘if you ever steal/start a fight’) that would get us in Very Serious Trouble.

                Learning that there were negative consequences was important for us. Frankly, there’s a lot of folks I think could have seriously benefited from some even-handed discipline along with the positive role models and positive reinforcement. Might be less fools around if they’d had it, I think. But that sort of thing seems to be discouraged these days, right along with the whole ‘it’s never justified to spank’ notion that’s going around.

                1. My parents always spanked with a bare hand. My father explained why to me once, when I was older and had “graduated” to punishments other than spanking: with a belt or switch or other object, it’s possible to hurt the child more than you realize or intend. But with a bare hand, your hand stings about as much as the child’s butt is stinging, so you know exactly how to calibrate the spanking and won’t accidentally hurt them too much. Seems wise to me.

                    1. That advice wouldn’t help with the parents who hit their kid in anger — it only helps you calibrate the level of punishment you intend, and if you’re intending too much, you’ll be able to inflict it since you’re so much bigger and stronger than the kid. Which is where my father’s second bit of wisdom comes in. He never explained this one to me, but I figured it out later: sometimes when I’d do something wrong, he wouldn’t spank me right away. He’d just say, “You’re going to get a spanking later. Now go to your room.” And a few minutes later — five to ten minutes, most of the time — he’d come, spank me, then explain when it was over that getting punished didn’t mean I wasn’t loved, and give me a hug. As a child, I never understood why he made me wait for the punishment like that; I thought at the time it was to increase the fearful anticipation of being spanked. Now, with hindsight, I realize that he didn’t want to ever lay a hand on me in anger, so that waiting period was his cooling-off period. Once he had his emotions under control and could rationally decide how much punishment I deserved for the infraction, then and only then would he come and spank me.

                      Yeah, he was (and is) wise.

                    2. I spanked. Mostly before the kids reached age of reason — i.e. around six — when i could take computer cord away for a day. I spanked with my hand. I THREATENED to spank with my shoe. Never had to do it. If I took my shoe off, it all stopped.
                      HOWEVER I never spanked when furious. I’m a berserker. Letting myself go would be BAD. So, when Robert jumped (I swear) from the upper bunk, and missed his brother’s chest (lying on the floor) by maybe an inch, I didn’t spank. I just went pale with rage and told him to go downstairs and sit in the living room and not MOVE until I was calm enough to deal with him. (At which point I read him the riot act.) Same when he locked me out of the house (at three) and turned on every burner in the stove. (Because it was forbidden.) I was like “I can’t even see you, sir. Go to your room and stay there until I can deal with you.”

                  1. There’s a thought here though that children shouldn’t be spanked at all. It’s proliferating through all the parenting sites I’ve been reading through on occasion.

                    Having seen a few kids being the rudest little brats to their parents (I’m actually being polite in the description), and the parents not spanking but trying to be ‘reasonable’ I keep wondering how long before the kids run roughshod over them.

                  2. My father did similarly.

                    Only it wasn’t “go to your room I’ll be along to administer the spanking”.

                    No, it was “You’re going to get a spanking, and here’s why”. And then there would be discussion, a morality lecture. Much pleading and wailing. Time would go by, sometimes an hour or two.

                    Then it happened. Implacable as an ice age.

                  3. I told a guy I was working with that philosophy one time, He told me that he used a belt, because “hands are for loving” (No, he didn’t mean anything creepy by that. He meant things like hugs.). I just shook my head. I knew there was no explaining it to him.

                    1. One thing for a belt: properly done, with a wide belt (too narrow doesn’t diffuse force sufficiently and lesser wind resistance imparts more force to target) folded (very important) in half acts as a slapstick, sounding much worse than it hits.

              2. My father never used anything other than his hand.

                His boot leather tough, calloused hand.

                1. I noticed that all of you said father did the punishing– both of my parents did it– I think it would have been better if it was only one parent.

                  1. Nah-ah. Mom did the punishing. If dad even raised his voice to me, he had a stomach crisis. Weirdly, I was more afraid of hurting him than of mom’s spankings. And I liked it when he was proud of me. Hence the not crying and the cliff climbing.

  13. When I was very young, I wouldn’t have understood why someone might have a lack of strong female role models. I knew my older female relations. I knew the strength of character it takes to continue pouring oneself into what needed doing. When I was older, I saw similar people in history.

    I learned that one kept at it.

    I learned that one did what one did what one found appropriate and fit, even knowing the trouble it might bring. I learned that one faced that trouble.

    I learned that one took the hand one was dealt and played it. I learned that even if one had to keep one’s nose to the grindstone just to stay behind, one did so. With a smile on one’s face and a song in one’s heart.

    I learned to love learning.

    What I knew of family history lead me to the conclusion that embracing White Supremacism meant joining the Democratic Party, and that opposing it, treating people as people, meant joining the Republican party.

    I do not always manage to live and family example teaches me is correct, but when I do not I disappoint myself. Ultimately I always have at least some, and may bear all the responsibility and blame for that.

  14. Having children in the era of a proliferation of parenting how-to manuals, it became pretty obvious that the “experts” were often just flailing around. At our first pregnancy, we had one of those OB provided books that talked about everything related to pregnancy. It had a small section in the back on how to help the older sibling deal with being displaced. The fear was that older sibling would get insanely jealous of all the gifts younger sibling was getting so the parents should have a stash of gifts set aside for older sibling. When a guest brought a gift to new sibling, parents could run to the closet and grab a gift for older sibling to make sure that there wasn’t any jealousy. When I brought that up to some friends as being stupid, one of them told me the story of his sister throwing a birthday party for her daughter. (Also the era of lavish parties in lower and middle class neighborhood because you had to one-up each other. Haven’t heard if that is still happening.) She spent $10,000 on the party counting gifts, entertainment, etc. But then she had to turn around and spend $5000 on her son so he wouldn’t be jealous. She couldn’t just wait for his birthday and spend lavishly on that.

    1. I think the MOST we spent on my kids’ bdays was in the “birthdays of note” 16, 18 and 21 (for one of them) when, money permitting, we take them up to Denver for two days (Embassy Suites, hoo hoo) and we do their favorite stuff. Like dinosaurs for Marshall, (We went to dinosaur ridge) and elephants at the zoo for Robert.
      To be fair, if we wanted to spend 10k, we’d need to win the lottery or something. When we have that kind of money we waste it on house repairs and cars.

    2. At the advice of an old, wise friend, when our second child was born and we brought him home, one of the first things we did was sit down on the sofa with Baby Princess between us and put Thing #1 in her lap. You wanna talk about eyes saucer-wide with wonder?

      I won’t pretend they’ve never fought, but for the most part they’ve gotten on pretty well.

      When Thing #2 was diagnosed with autism, and video games were the only thing we ever discovered that would hold his attention and keep him from galloping around the house breaking things, Thing #1 felt entitled to play video games all day long, too. That did not work out terribly well.

      In retrospect, if Thing #2 had not been austic and ourselves desperate for some peace in the home, both boys today would be like “What are these ‘video games’ you speak of?” Too bad real life doesn’t have a replay button.

        1. We made pretty good use of all these things for a few years. Yeah, they have redeeming qualities.

          Thing #2 is teaching himself calculus from Khan Academy. The computers, they are not themselves a source of evil.

        2. My aunt used to get review copies of video games. She’d give me the kids ones and ask what I thought. They were fun but didn’t hold my attention the way my books did.

          My son, though, has a serious Minecraft addiction that is only matched by his constant searching for interesting math things to learn on youtube. Fractals are his most recent obsession.

          1. I understand your son is much younger than mine, and both of mine have a SERIOUS minecraft addiction. They keep it under control, but on vacation they and their best buddy spend all night (sometimes) playing minecraft…

            I understand it’s like catnip for smart boys who like building things.

            1. He’s 10 and he’s trying very, very hard to convince his dad and I that he should be able to create his own server so he and his friends can play. His aunt got him an xbox 360 and a copy to play at her house. He came home with super bloodshot eyes because that’s all he did the entire weekend he was visiting. I’m not even sure he slept.

              It’s like legos, if legos were infinitely expandable and people made new ones just to see if they could. I can definitely see the appeal for smart boys who like building things.

              1. I want to see how many Minecrafters graduate to Dwarf Fortress and try to build the same things. It’s much harder when you can only see one level at a time.

                1. I’ve been playing with the Dwarf Fortress world building and legends. I can totally see my son enjoying it as he gets older.

            2. Funny you should mention Minecraft. My cousin got me into it recently, and I put up two of my own servers for my friends to play on. (

              Digital legos. And yes, the operant-conditioning addiction is definitely there. 😛

              Other interesting computer games of note: Kerbal Space program – this one is actually educational in a way. If you want to develop an intuitive feel for and understanding of rocketry and orbital mechanics, this game will do it for you. (It could be that I had already had classes in those subjects, but I found the physics to be wonderfully realistic and instructive for a space-game).

              1. I spent a long afternoon one day figuring out how to get my little Kerbals into orbit. Finally had to scour the internet, and Yay! Orbit acheived.

                Then that night the wife and I went and saw Gravity. And seeing that after spending the afternoon blowing up rockets was just… weirdly awesome.

            3. My son and granddaughter have gotten me hooked on Minecraft. I spent several hours this past weekend building a road from my house to the nearest village that I found in the game. It’s not quite as bad as sugar, but almost!

          2. Oh goodness. Minecraft is an awesome game for people who are good at math (I’m not) and love building. We have a server that we spend time building stuff in. My son gets to play the game on the condition that he was 1) behaved at school (the teacher has to let me or housemate know and we always ask) and 2) he’s finished homework and chores. One of our friends spends a rather impressive amount of time building incredibly detailed structures, (The latest one was a Mayan temple) and one of the older iterations involved an architect deciding “I’m going to make a multi-sphere, multi-level base.” (Sadly, that base is gone, along the rest of that first server.)

            Husband gleefully told me that the Occulus Rift supposedly WILL have Minecraft as one of the supported games. I don’t think I can deal with turning around and seeing a creeper right behind me.

            1. I have a friend who is building…smelters? And doing something with magic beans and golems. I’ll admit to not paying much attention but my son is fascinated and will watch him play for hours if we let him. Their conversations can get quite animated about what’s going on and my son always works on something he can show him the next time we see him. I swear, he spends more time on learning new things for that than on his homework. He’s getting straight-A’s and working ahead so I’m not exactly worried but he also knows that video games are the first thing gone if his grades go down.

              1. Younger son who is studying engineering says that the learning doesn’t translate but the thinking modes do (if that makes sense) and that playing minecraft is GREAT preparation for studying engineering.

                1. I totally get that. My dad (electrical engineer) was impressed by what he was doing. My son has declared his intention to be a doctor, if he’s not an actor or comedian, but he’s waffling between medical doctor or theoretical physicist. I told him he has time to think about it but that a medical doctor will pay better. My dad is trying to convince him to be an engineer and is starting early because he thinks he started too late on me.

                  1. If we can’t get rid of the ACA, then medical doctor will be a bad choice. If you can get into a decent lab, theoretical physicist pays reasonably well, if I remember correctly from when I looked into it 30 years ago.

                    1. I did think of that but he wants to be a specialist so I’m not sure how exactly that will be effected. I do remember it seemed to pay pretty well when I looked. How that will play out in 10 years, I have no idea.

                2. I second that. I haven’t played Minecraft at all, because it came out after I had decided that I was way too addicted to video games in general and needed to quit cold turkey — and I’ve stuck to that — so my only knowledge of the multitudinous Minecraft mods is from Youtube videos. But my oh my, what you can do with some of those mods, especially in combination with each other! I remember watching some videos and thinking, “I should recommend this to all parents with bright kids: it’ll teach the kids to think like engineers.” So I’m not too surprised that Marshall says the same thing.

                  A lot of the kids I interact with occasionally (my colleagues’ children, for example) play Minecraft. I’ve taken to pointing them at Direwolf20’s Youtube channel — he’s the best guy I’ve seen for explaining how the mods work and how to do stuff with them — and hoping that 10-20 years down the road, there will be a few more good engineers in the world.

              2. The incredibly complex redstone machines are also a fun thing for people who are fond of Rube Goldberg setups. Though, there’s a setup one can make of a tiny 3x3x3 machine that hatches chickens, raises them, and cooks them and deposits them into a chest for you. The Techy One on our server builds automatic sorting and harvesting for farms, sugar cane, cocoa beans, watermelons and pumpkins. The wheat and the rest need to be replanted by hand though.

                There’s a few rather insane projects on certain servers such as the one which built the whole of Middle Earth to scale (and the creators tended to get lost in the Mines of Moria), as well as a scale, indepth recreation of all of Westeros. I’ve only heard about these projects but that’s pretty darned impressive.

                1. The redstone machines are pretty awesome. He has golems harvesting, replanting and storing. I have just been blown away at some of the things that are possible in this game.

                    1. The golems that can harvest and replant are from the Thaumcraft mod. From what you’ve said about your server, it sounds like it’s running “vanilla” (un-modded) Minecraft, so those golems may not be available to you. But if your server admin is up to adding mods, there are some pretty neat modpacks out there that include Thaumcraft plus a BUNCH of other useful mods that work together. I know about the Direwolf20 pack because I watch his Youtube channel, and he has some good videos introducing various mods, but there are plenty of other good modpacks out there as well.

            1. Holy crap, I hadn’t seen that! Which probably means he hasn’t yet unless he’s just reading about it and will vomit information in a few days/weeks (he does that). That is so cool.

              1. Husband is addicted. It’s seriously in Alpha right now– being built, actively– but it’s lovely, and interesting, and there are already some incredibly impressive things that the guys who designed it have on idea how the builder made!

            2. I think that’s the one whose building is powered by the VoxelFarm engine. I’ve been following the engine’s development for years – the developer has a blog at where he’s been writing about the engine since it was his hobby project. Really cool stuff, but most of what I want to create is better expressed by other means (OpenSCAD, Blender, etc.).

    3. I wonder if those manuals, and what’s on TV and the ‘Net, is part of the problem with inconsistent parents, the ones who veer from strict to lenient to this “technique” to that “new practice” and then get puzzled why their awfulspring (what my folks call Sib and I on occasion [Sib started it, not me]) turn out so problematic.

      1. I’d say “Yes!”

        A lot of the time, just using common sense can weed out the chaff – like giving gifts to the older siblings to prevent jealousy. If you think about it long enough, you’d see the problems with every subsequent birth, birthday, Christmas, graduation, kid going to a friend’s party and bringing back the goodie bag, etc.

        It all comes back to the “It isn’t ‘FAIR!’ so we must make sure everybody has the same” attitude that is pervading everything from politics to publishing to education.

        1. A lot of the time, just using common sense can weed out the chaff – like giving gifts to the older siblings to prevent jealousy. If you think about it long enough, you’d see the problems with every subsequent birth, birthday, Christmas, graduation, kid going to a friend’s party and bringing back the goodie bag, etc.

          My family has always done “party favors”– it’s the same way we ask if we can bring something for dinner, and bring something any way.

          Likewise with kids being jealous– it’s not an expected as in acceptable thing, it’s an expected due to lack of attention thing that you get out ahead of by having special things for each kid. (And the cats, too, actually– so if Mommy and Princess go out to see Frozen, Daddy and Duchess have a “special movie night” where they watch anime and eat popcorn, and Princess is encouraged to save a little candy to share with her sister.)

    4. My mom would have flipped if I’d even hinted at being jealous of my brother’s stuff. The thought of getting me a present for his birthday would have given her an asthma attack from laughing so hard.

      The most she ever spent on me was the money for the limo to pick me and my friends up from school for my 16th birthday and take us to get my drivers license. We had the limo for 2 hours. It wasn’t that expensive.

      When my daughter was born, I made it my sons job to watch her while I took a quick shower or did the dishes and keep her entertained. He was 7 and she was a shiny, squirmy new toy. The possibility of him being jealous of her is laughable. Now, she wants to play with everything he has because he is the coolest person she has ever met and he’s very happy to have his own room so he can close the door.

      1. He was 7 and she was a shiny, squirmy new toy.

        I remember my younger brother and I fighting for the turn on who got to change the youngest brother’s diapers (only the pee-filled ones) because it was a Big Thing for us to Do A Big Sibling Chore. Mom never had a problem with having us babysit him (there was an area on the floor cordoned off with stuffed toys we designated the Baby’s Space) and that’s where we were supposed to stay to watch over him. Of course, when he started crawling, we were obligated to follow him around and make sure he didn’t get hurt. Unfortunately, that sibling was THE most accident prone of us all and tended to yank cups full of hot coffee onto himself…

        1. Yeah, my kids are getting along much better than my brother and I did. When my son’s being doctor who, he drafts his sister to be his companion. Except now, she doesn’t say her lines right which irritates him to no end.

          Him, dramatically, pushing buttons on his Tardis console: Goodbye swimming pool.
          Her, bouncing on his bed: No! I like swimming! Hello swimming pool.
          Him: Mom! She’s not doing it right!

          Apparently, she was a lot more fun before she could talk back.

          1. *laughs* “She’s not doing it right” is a line I hear from my son a lot too. Hard to follow a script if you don’t know what the lines are!

            I should probably post some pictures of a few of the structures that have been built in our Minecraft server. They’re pretty impressive. Unfortunately, the flu is getting the better of me now and I should probably rest for a while.

  15. The “takes a village” bull crap isn’t 100% wrong. Last Sunday I was talking to the 18yo son of a friend with whom I have a “mentoring” relationship. And I tell him things he can’t hear when uttered by his mom or dad. Thus your church or other groups you associate with can help. I wouldn’t say they’re more than that.

    1. The “it takes a village to raise a child” idea does have a large element of truth behind it but Saint Hillary misused the idea because she wanted the federal government involved in raising the child.

      Our family joke was that Ruth and I couldn’t do something in Danville without meeting somebody who knew our parents. Between Dad’s job as the office manager of a wholesale paper & janitorial supply business, Mom’s job as a school teacher and them attending church, it seemed that everybody in Danville knew one of our parents. [Grin]

      Oh, I forgot to mention that Dad was a little league coach. [Double Grin]

      1. Yes. The slogan was “it takes a village”, which was phrased to make us think of friends and neighbors helping each other out.
        But Hillary’s intent was government control, a thoroughly fascistic idea. (If ever a feminist deserved the label ‘feminazi’ it was Hillary.)

  16. On the other hand, there are parents who simply will not LET GO. And it doesn’t seem to be a Right/Left thing. I’ve seen it in reflexive Lefties, and hard core Righties. My Great Grandfather was a classic Victorian Era paterfamilias; he dictated what his sons would study, what jobs they would hold, everything. The only exception was Grandfather, who had a call to be a minister; Great Grandfather couldn’t trump God. Funny how (excepting Grandfather) each of his sons sold their houses, moved, and changed careers as soon as the old boy died…

    You can’t hit the target is you don’t aim … or if you won’t loose.

      1. I think it was sort of expected in my family that you’d move away. I mean I think my paternal grandmother was the only one of my relatively close relatives that didn’t leave the country sometime in their 20s due to their occupation.

        1. Considering we have wandering blood in us (Viking) and the parents both moved far away from home, I find it funny that they never saw it coming with their own children. 😉

  17. I was a martial arts instructor for a number of years. I used to teach the younger children (4-6 years old) and the kids (7-12). Many of the parents would remark that their children behaved better for me than they did for them.

    The main reason was that I had knowledge the kids wanted, and they knew that if they didn’t follow the rules, they would not be learning it.

    I had expectations of their behaviour and they had rewards for meeting those expectations and consequences for not meeting them.

    1. Exactly. Rewards and consequences are key- and consistency of the two is king. I’m the eldest male of my generation, which meant I herded human cats on every family gathering for eighteen-odd years until the youngest reached majority. Too often when the rules are inconsistent, the kids learn to ignore them.

      1. IMO there’s also a factor of “meaning it”. When my oldest niece & nephew (twins) were younger, Mom got better results than my sister Ruth did. Basically when Grandma said it, she meant it but when their mom (Ruth) said it, they thought she didn’t mean it. [Wink]

        It was a case IMO of Mom telling the twins to do something and reacting if they didn’t obey the first time. Ruth wouldn’t react until they disobeyed several times.

        1. That’s probably a better way of saying it. *grin* After all, one can be consistent and still fail every time, or often enough that it becomes a pattern the kids can exploit…

    2. One important factor: you only had to be consistent for an hour or two however many days a week you taught class — the parents had to be consistent 24/7 so the kids had more opportunity to wear them down or catch them in an unguarded moment. Kids knew they had less time to erode your defenses and less to gain, thus they invested in more rewarding strategies.

      None of which ameliorates need for parental consistency or discipline, merely points out the stakes and strategies were different.

  18. “Because you’re strong. And so it’s your duty.” – the basis of noblesse oblige, writ universal. Essential for a functioning society, because every one is stronger than someone else, in some way, and so things get done together that couldn’t be, alone. Rewarding, if you let it be.
    I like your family!

    1. Right. If it had just said “Your children are the sons and daughters of the future,” it would have been much less offensive. (Though still pretty useless — I mean, what parent doesn’t know that their kids are going to be the future _____ of the world, insert profession as appropriate? And usually guess that profession entirely wrong, at least until the kid is 20?) But the “Your children aren’t yours?” Yeah, I can see why the RCOB* descended.

      * Red Curtain of Blood, if anyone hasn’t seen that acronym before.

    2. like so many Proglodyte adages, it is exactly wackbards. My child is not my property; I am my child’s parent with incumbent duties toward that child.

      The “future” ain’t changing nappies, brushing away tears, getting up in the can’t see to scrape snow ff the kid’s car, paying the bills (quite the opposite; the “future” is running up a heckuvva credit card bill for the kids to pay) or cleaning grit out of any barked knees. The future skipped out on all those school plays, field days, band candy and gift wrap sales and we won’t even talk about the miserable books the future thinks the kid should (and shouldn’t) read!

      1. “like so many Proglodyte adages, it is exactly wackbards.”

        Noooooo! No wack the bards, we’re wacky enough already!

        Parent-with-duties: too many of the early-to-mid-1990s parents I had to deal with closely at that time didn’t understand that Cub Scouting was a FAMILY commitment, no matter how much we reinforced the concept in recruitment night literature or pep talks anywhere in the process. Some got it, and they were the gold that kept me bleeding blue for all the boys and not just my own half-soccer-team (three boys).

        I was lucky, the gift wrap sales craze mostly hit AFTER my divorce, and the boys’ mother was faced with that particularly insanity. Popcorn sales (Cub / Boy Scouts, north central Texas) were an entirely different matter, as I was the Cubmaster or in other adult Pack leadership roles for more than four years.

        (Why, yes: Yes, I was also an Eagle Scout in BSA, 1976…)

          1. (attempting the reply-via-email route, with trepidation…)

            Ah-k, I was thinking in terms of players-on-the-field — but freely admit I may even have THAT wrong, since my athletics-related knowledge is somewhat dated (even though I was a *bit* ahead of the middle-America curve in college, as two out of the three college roommates I ever had were soccer players, and both of them — Americans, raised in NE Oklahoma, where them what did not play football or basketball almost assuredly played baseball — were as good as or better at the game of futbol / soccer than the foreign-educated students who made up more than 80% of our dorm floor’s residents…)

          1. Just exactly so, Emily. Grew up in OK (Osage & Kingfisher Counties), attended Oklahoma State in Stillwater OK, started my career in OKC. Been in TX since 1988 except when on contract (and even then, perm address was maintained in TX). My Cub Scout leadership role was in the 1988 – 1992 timeframe, Gray Owl District, Circle 10 Council.

            Should you worry that you ask? (I don’t bite, much. Unless someone asks really nicely, and even then I’ve got my standards!)

            1. No worries. It just meas that we’ve reached the point where we have enough of us Huns and Hoydens in central and western TX to, eh, summon the right dragon (this time) or something. I’ll have to check the Human Wave Surfer’s Manual.

                1. It is not impossible. (Probably not soon, budget and schedule are both THAT tight, but…) For anyone collecting contact info, that’s me in the avatar, and my email arrives at Hotmail for kihebard. Or I try to keep astride the reins of the WordPress blog that should be linking to said avatar.

                  Semi-shameless plug for those in DFW area this weekend: it is North Texas Irish Festival weekend. Fair Park. Lots of music and all that good stuff. I won’t be there myself this year, but I have been in the past – even as part of the performing tracks (story-telling, although illness kept me from completing a full schedule, dang it!).

  19. They’re the sons and daughters of the future.
    This is even wrong just on the face of it.
    The kids of today are the Moms, Dads, grandparents, and crazy aunts and uncles of the future. It is our responsibility to prepare them for these daunting roles, especially for the crazy uncle role, for which I endeavor to set the high bar for generations to come. Far into the future, I hope they’ll still be saying “Sure uncle Bob is kinda crazy, but he’s not a patch on old Uncle Mike back at the turn of the century! Why, I was told one time…”

  20. Who is this “the_future”? Does the_future care to change their diapers? Is the_future going to feed ’em at 2am? No? Then they’re not your children, oh hander out of stupid tracts, they’re mine.

    1. Of course they’re yours! Maybe it’s a euphemistic way of saying they belong to the gov’t. Even more to say that nothing is yours, it all belongs to the gov’t.

      1. If “the government” isn’t going to be there at 2am when someone has an ear infection and screams every time she’s laid down, the government can go f– itself when it comes to who own what. Which, because “the government” is incapable of providing personalized love and care by the very design of its structure, means the government should go f– itself on principle and in fact, and leave me to raise mine.

        In fact, if the government went and imploded, and removed itself from my life in every single instance except as absolutely unavoidable to “establish justice, to insure domestic tranquility, to provide for the common defense, to promote the general welfare, and to secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity as ordained and established in this here Constitution”… that’s be absolutely ducky.

      2. Maybe it’s a euphemistic way of saying they belong to the gov’t.

        Can’t possibly be that, the gov’t already mortgaged them.

        1. The government’s already mortgaged their children. Sigh.

          What will it take to make clear to our fellow citizens that the politicians that the trough is empty and they need to stop swilling at it? That even confiscating all the assets of the wealthy will be little but a drop in the bucket compared to what is being spent by the government, and will in fact tank the economy even further by offering a disincentives for entrepreneurship? All the “geniuses” can think of is freezing military raises and cutting military benefits. They’re too gutless to take on the government unions (or they’ve been bought by the government unions) to reduce any of those benefits and expenses. Sure, they’ll use the excuse that its because of contracts and that promises have been made, but we all know the truth. I’ll stop now. I’m porbably preaching to the choir.

          1. All the “geniuses” can think of is freezing military raises and cutting military benefits.

            No, they thought of a new one– cut the military. To pre-WWII levels….

  21. When I read the title of this post, I thought of Heinlein’s speech at the 3rd World Sci Fi Convention, “The Discovery of the Future”, which I just read last night in Requiem.

    I thought it was kind of funny, reading it, how much it sounds like some of the things posted here, when talking about the downward spiral we see coming.

  22. Stalin ‘quotes” are a chancy thing, subject to misattribution, misrepresentation and mistranslation. Let’s use one anyway: ‘Quantity has a quality all its own.’

    This is unquestionably true for children on at least two grounds.

    First, you model for them. Their observation of you provides the primary template for their self-construction. Or self-destruction if what you model is affluenza or other modern illness. Sure, they have their own neural hardware, but the programming has alternative methods of addressing problem solution.

    Second, by being present you are, as noted, available to protect, to supervise, to say “You might want to try a different approach” to your kid or “You’re outta your gourd” to the school misguidance counselor. (Did you ever read about how Jay Leno’s HS guidance councilor began the conference extolling the virtues of learning to say “You want fries with that?”) By being present you are also able to spot trends, such as a tendency to memorize eye charts with the good eye.

    And think, a moment, on the consequences of that inane philosophy, the proper, rational response of a society which accepts the children = arrows concept.

    Eliminate spending on Head Start and Pre-K programs, it is money wasted on a shot arrow. Drop arts and sports and music and theatre programs except for those few who readily demonstrate a talent — dragging other arrows through those programs is a waste and takes resources from the talented.

    For those arrows with no talents beneficial to society, why not disassemble them and provide the component parts to other, more worthy arrows? If all moral education is wasted on shot arrows, there is no point rehabilitating them in prison, is there?

    Sometimes you’ve got to “agree” with the moral lepers to see where their premises lead.

    1. If you mean literally disassemble them and provide the component parts to others, I think “soylent green” and/or “organ harvesting” are the answers as to where that attitude leads. Not pleasant to contemplate.

  23. Raising the Smart&Crunchy(tm) son has been wonderful. I’ve likened it at times to the launch of a multi-stage rocket – where you’re constructing and programming the next stage as you go along,

    Then you initiate stage separation (while providing guidance updates as long as possible) and hope your child/ren don’t malfunction more than their programming can cope with. Their courses may parallel yours for a while, then they’ll vary – or they’ll diverge greatly from the time they’re released.

    You just have to hope and trust you’ve programmed them well.

    So far, I don’t think S&C’s going to self-destruct, or vary much off the course he’s decided for himself. Still, we’ve only popped a few of the explosive bolts and haven’t initiated stage separation yet.

    Our folks did the best they knew how. (In some cases, the ‘best’ was significantly better than others, I’ll admit…) Then we take what we’ve learned and go from there. I’ve worked hard with the Smart&Crunchy to give him the data I never got from my folks to help cope with the world, and so far he’s shaping up to do much better than I have.

    I can only hope it will be so.

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