The Sons And Daughters Of The Future – A blast from the past from 2/25/14

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*Sorry guys. I was going to put up a guest post, but we had to run errands early morning, so it would be late, and I don’t do that to guest posts.  And I’m running a (very mild) fever due to something son brought home from rotations.  (See, we should never have taught him to share.)  So I’m sorry, but it’s a blast from the past. – SAH*

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.

102 responses to “The Sons And Daughters Of The Future – A blast from the past from 2/25/14

  1. Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

    Nod.

    You can’t “control everything they do” (especially once they leave home) but you can (and should) give them the tools they’ll need.

  2. You teach, you guide, you be an example in how you treat others.

    A friend gave me this just before the Smart&Crunchy™ was born.

    “Walk a little slower, Daddy!” said a little child so small.
    “I’m following in your footsteps and i don’t want to fall.

    Sometimes your steps are very fast, sometimes they’re hard to see;
    So walk a little slower Daddy, for you are leading me.

    Someday when I’m all grown up, you’re what i want to be.
    Then i will have a little child who’ll want to follow me.

    And i would want to lead just right, and know that i was true;
    So, walk a little slower, Daddy, for i must follow you!!”

    It was a good reminder of just what my responsibilities were.. and I think I’ve done a pretty good job so he could learn to direct his efforts.

    • Billy Currington’s, “Walk a Little Straighter”, comes to mind.

      • Lots of covers for that song. I think I prefer the Johnny Cash one even to the original. Not in the mood for it often though, it’s such a sad story of how not to raise your kid.

        • I’ve recently developed a desire to smack the narrator not for the lack of attention exactly — I’m usually distracted during that part by fretting over whether trying to work (and to be honest, sometimes goof off) from home is making me too inattentive to my little one — but for the assumption at the end that “he’d grown up just like me.”

          “The new job’s a hassle and the kids have the flu” maybe means he’s too busy to deal with you when you all of a sudden want to reconnect, and sure it’s a shame and all, but if he’s taking care of his kids with the flu might just be he’s doing better than you were, man.

          • Terry Sanders

            Or maybe this was the fifth or sixth time in a row he’d been “prioritized.” That’s the way I always heard it. That kiod of realization seddom occurs the first time.

  3. The super controlling type, or the person likely to view their children as their own identity (as mothers tend to do) might need to be told the child isn’t theirs. I was oldest and the man who baptized me told my mom that I belonged to God, which she found rather unsettling and profound. (And I’m sure she fought a constant battle not to be clingy and controlling but HER mother had been neglectful and controlling (I’m serious) so my mom worked at not doing the same. There were times I really *wanted* her to tell me what to do.)

    But the person looking for excuses not to parent sure doesn’t need to hear the same message.

    • Heh. I took what I thought was wrong with my own upbringing and didn’t do the same with my son. It worked.

      Told him when it was his turn, to remember what HE thought didn’t work, and not do that with his offspring.

      • The one thing I would have wished for from my parents was more patience with mistakes. I was a teenager who never did anything at home partly due to the normal teen laziness (or just laziness in general) but a big part was an earlier childhood when whenever I tried to help mom – and I did – she’d maybe let me try, watch for a few moments, and then, instead of telling me how to do it right and putting me to do it again would just push me a aside and say “… I’ll do that.”

        Father just told me to get out of the way right away.

        Which kind of left me with a long standing idea that I could not do anything much right, and that things should be done right or not at all.

        • It may have been easier & definitely faster, but a whole lot less fun, to not involve the kid helping from before he could walk.

          Helping:

          Clear snow (& we get soooo much around here – Willamette Valley – uhhh NOT!!!)

          Rake & sweep leaves & put into yard debris can – with kid giving instructions with his little plastic rake, shovel, & wheel barrel.

          Loading split wood into the truck & trailer. Note tailgate of truck was over his head. Sequence was: 1) Pickup split piece. Put on first step, climb up. 2) Repeat step 1 for second step. 3) Repeat step 1 for tail gate. 4) Pick up & put on pile stacking as high as he could reach. 5) Crawl back down feet first.

          Note. By the time these were actually chores, we never, ever got any grief or whines, he just did. Including splitting & stacking 6 or 8 chord multiple summers, not by machine for both us & my folks. Dad helped some but I couldn’t (can’t). Pretty sure mom & dad slipped him more than a little money.

          At home there was no one to complain about “turns”. Grandma & grandpa, well the girls should have helped, but we won’t go there. The other boy cousin was an infant too small even for stacking help even if he’d been local. Though my cousin (slightly older than kid) helped some with Grandma & Grandpa’s pile a bit, but he had his own folks pile to work on.

        • That’s what my mom dd. Just push me aside and do it.

          • They were also rather lax with me when it came to those household chores as I got older. I wasn’t asked to do much, and if I dawdled long enough I wasn’t asked again, and pretty often I dawdled, partly due to the normal inborn laziness, partly because I was afraid that if it was anything more complicated than taking out trash I’d be told I hadn’t done it to a suitable perfection level, and I didn’t like that. And when it came to school, as long as my school numbers stayed in the good average level that was good enough, I am not sure if anybody ever figured out I was actually underperforming pretty badly.

            One of the absolutely worst habits I used to have when younger – and still exhibit to an extent – was rather not doing than not doing exactly right the first time. I tended to give up in advance. Then I’d try for a while, then probably give up even trying for a while, then start trying again. I have wasted hell of a lot of my life that way, not being able to give something a sustained effort to learn because failing discourages me badly enough that I walk away from the whole thing for a while, whether that is a few hours, a few days, or sometimes months. And sometimes I just quit fully.

            Which is, btw, the reason why that Yoda quote “Do, or do not. There is no try” pisses me off. Given those alternatives I’d “do not”. As far as I am concerned “try” does mean doing, but not succeeding to perfection, and before you can fully succeed with most things you probably have to just “try” a lot of times. Now I get that the idea probably is to discourage somebody from using “I tried” as an excuse for giving up something hard, and I presume it can work with people of different habits than I have, but as said, for me it would be telling to not bother in the first place because it kind of sounds like, I don’t know, maybe sort of like starting with sculpting and not producing something like Michelangelo’s David the first time you are given a slab of marble and the tools and told to sculpt a male figure.

            • And I have always presumed that the idea for the “building up their self-confidence” method of child raising was an effort to avoid that problem, and avoid getting young adults who don’t even try because they think they can’t do well enough to succeed anyway. It has just usually been taken way too far by not telling kids ever that yes, that still needs fixing. I probably would have benefited from more “That’s pretty good” comments, or being told that I had talent for something, BUT and being told only after that but what needed to be fixed because I had done it wrong or not well enough yet. And always being told what I was doing better than the last time.

              What I got was almost always just the negatives (mostly from my teachers in school too, it seemed to be the normal way to teach here back then – well, a few in the class might get their work shown as an example of how it should have been done, the rest got the negatives, and those kids whose work was used as examples tended to always be the same ones.) Works with some kids, I presume, but I just happened to be exactly the wrong type for that approach.

              • Ditto.

                To this day “I can’t write” because I was told I was so horrible at it.

                Drawing. Ditto.

                Yet I was (retired) a darn good (not superior, have to work too hard at the math) programmer because I saw patterns in what I was working on (mentioned in other posts it drove the guys I worked with nuts). I could take what needed to be done & produce what was needed (beyond what was wanted) efficiently, quickly, & it was maintainable. Because programming/design is self validating.

            • Oh, gads, the “I might not do it PERFECTLY, I won’t even try” thing– our eldest! Oh, gads, in SPADES.

              I think it may be a female expression of whatever they’re calling the very geeky generally intelligent introverts that they use to just diagnose as “on the spectrum,”

              Trying to channel it into “Well, if I don’t want to be wrong, I’ll work my rump off to make sure I’m right” that I had to be taught.

        • What frustrated me was “I showed (told) you once, I shouldn’t have to do it again.” That was my Dad, mostly – he was probably among the top 1% of veterinary diagnosticians, but all of us absolutely shuddered when he toyed with the notion of teaching at a vet school when he retired. There would have been so many “Well, I was going to be a veterinarian, but then I got this one Professor…”

          • SheSellsSeashells

            My father would show me and explain *reasonably* well, but then demand that I do the Thing however-many times to his satisfaction before the lesson was over. 12 perfect table-tennis serves/backwards rings around the parking lot/sit-stay repetitions with the dogs took a whole lot of joy out of it.

            My mother was far from perfect, but I had a knack for the things she liked to teach, so that worked out pretty well.

            • Well, not with everything, but my kids will tell you that I’m like that with things that require practice to reasonably safely operate. So, driving, loading/clearing firearms, kitchen knives and heat, electrical work, etc.

              Actually, I’m not sure any of them can even play table tennis…

        • Terry Sanders

          Which is why I can’t actually write. One of the reasons, anyway.

      • Same here. Although I probably managed to screw up several times by doing something that my grandparents did wrong – since I didn’t have a bad example from my parents to avoid.

        Considering how long there have been parents and children, though, that must be very normal. Otherwise, we’d all have been absolutely perfect by now.

      • SheSellsSeashells

        When the pregnancy test showed up positive, my husband and I had the following exchange: “We’re not going to make our parents’ mistakes.” “Nope, we are going to make different and exciting mistakes.”

  4. First of all, we can see the result of a standardized public way raising children. It raises them to the lowest common denominator, leaving them all barely above the moron stage (for those of you who remember the old levels of intelligence.) Of course the ones on the top 20% end up bored to tears, and discovering all kinds of ways to get into trouble in their leisure time since they finish any assignments (when they do them) far before anyone else. No thank you. I’d rather have an Einstein fail to get a public education than a Moriarty given free reign to recruit henchmen and molls among the disaffected smart ones.

    I’m a parent. Two boys, raised and put through college. I didn’t try to make them into clones of me. But like arrows, I did try to aim them at the target (educated, self sufficent, confident but self aware of their weaknesses.) Both smart (140 to 155 IQs) one with ADHD, the other on the autistic spectrum (about a Bill Gates level of functioning.) So one arrow was a little warped, the other was rather bent. Both flew horribly Left due to a seriously LGBTQ high school and colleges; although the oldest is coming back to center as he discovers if you want more than the bare minimum government dole, you need to work for it, and keep what you make. The youngest is gone with the wind, solidly in the Clinton-Sanders-Occasio-Cortez mob. He/she really isn’t mine anymore, totally out of my control; although I still pray that he’ll come home like the son in the Prodigal parable.

    I’m a parent, in a two parent family. Sometimes you get a partner that joggles your arm as you’re releasing that arrow. Communication helps, but if you don’t have agreement, then you’ve got a conflict. Pick your battles.

    Children aren’t fire and forget missiles. We launch them, and we watch to see how they go. Sometimes we even get to pick up the misses and shoot them again.

    I’m not crying. I’m washing the sand out of my eyes.

    • *Offers hankie* Dust is bad this time of year.

    • Don’t focus on their politics too heavily. Those will change (hopefully) with age and perspective. If you managed to launch decent human beings who are functional, able to find work and support themselves, you can call it a job well done (and pray quietly that they find the right road back away from Marxism and maybe even back to whatever religion you provided them growing up).

      Mine are in High School now … getting nearer to their first true launch. I will admit, it is terrifying, no matter how well you think you’ve prepared them. And yeah, amazing how the sand/dust gets in your eyes when you think about them launching…

  5. William O. B'Livion

    > I get a special dispensation for telling stories. I hope

    Telling stories isn’t (always) lying, it’s the telling or revealing of truths. At least if it’s a good story. There are people who lie through their stories, but those stories are usually bad.

    • “To the second, therefore, that they should be the principal liars, I answer paradoxically, but truly, I think truly, that of all writers under the sun the poet is the least liar; and though he would, as a poet can scarcely be a liar. The astronomer, with his cousin the geometrician, can hardly escape when they take upon them to measure the height of the stars. How often, think you, do the physicians lie, when they aver things good for sicknesses, which afterwards send Charon a great number of souls drowned in a potion before they come to his ferry? And no less of the rest which take upon them to affirm. Now for the poet, he nothing affirmeth, and therefore never lieth. For, as I take it, to lie is to affirm that to be true which is false; so as the other artists, and especially the historian, affirming many things, can, in the cloudy knowledge of mankind, hardly escape from many lies. But the poet, as I said before, never affirmeth.”

      https://www.bartleby.com/27/1.html

    • My great grandmother (the only one I knew) believed that fiction was lying and therefore was a sin.

      I don’t know how common that was, way back when. But it was very common that fiction, books that were just stories, were considered *sloth*, and therefore a sin.

      Now we’ve gone around the bend the other way, and don’t respect that some children like to read non-fiction or instructional stuff and think something is wrong with them if they don’t like reading novels.

      • I don’t know how common it was either, but I remember encountering the idea in Anne of Green Gables and/or Little Women.

      • Goes back to Plato at least. “Poets are liars.’

        • Patricia Wrede, I think, wrote a fantasy short story where the harp made out of the bones of the drowned girl told lies about who was at fault, just as she had done when she was alive, and why would have anyone expected different? Making fun of the idea in various fairy tales that the items or creatures that allowed someone to speak from the grave always told the truth.

  6. BobtheRegisterredFool

    Yeah, the Children of the Future stuff strikes me as leftist bullshit.

    Like “You didn’t build that”.

    Okay, sure you can’t justly put parents to death when their kids do drugs or join a gang. (Not under the US Constitution. Though it is possible to have very dysfunctional cultural circumstances that perhaps make such collective punishment necessary.)

    Parents have a lot of power and influence over their children. Children of the future, it takes a village, all bullshit excuses to let other people meddle with your kids.

    • Pretty much everything I have ever seen printed in a pamphlet belongs to one or more of three categories;

      Religious tract (churches still print this stuff)

      Advertisement

      Left Wing Indoctrination Nonsense.

  7. at this point do you find yourself still keeping an ear out for them, even tho they aren’t there?

  8. I would say that was in some part the Baby Boom trying to let their Parents off the hook, after the fact. The 1990’s was a time when the Baby Boomer Twits (and I am one *shudder*) were beginning to realize just how tough and good and smart their parents had been, after decades of telling them they were stupid soft bigots.

    Just a thought.

  9. It is also a way of saying, “We’ll make sure your kids are raised in a way we can best exploit.”

  10. ” 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.”

    We wouldn’t had had a roof over our head, at times, if we hadn’t. Granted, he was 9 months. But we did what we could to limit the time & chose group play time (actual schools). Only child of typically non-social parents so socialization was not a bad goal. Not that it took from signs, but we tried. Plus understanding was, no matter what, we were there when needed.

    Outside of day-care. What’s this hour of quality time? Way more than an hour. Chores took way longer with “help”, but it was more fun. Plus sports was not drop & run. BSA is NOT “Baby Sitters of America” … trust me you see a LOT of both. Parent excuse “with work I need ‘me’ time.” /snort/ “Me time” started when the kid went to college. Well it kind of started leaking in when he was in HS, which was a nice surprise.

    • jic *click* /sigh

    • FeatherBlade

      Chores took way longer with “help”, but it was more fun.

      When I was a wee tot, helping my mother bake cookies, it took f.o.r.e.v.e.r. to get the dough together and on the sheets and baked. (Y’know, if we bothered to bake it rather than just keep it in the fridge and eat it by the spoonful.)

      Many years later, as an adult helping my mother bake cookies, I discovered that it takes a significantly shorter amount of time. It was a bit of a revelation how quick it actually was.

      • SheSellsSeashells

        Apropos of absolutely nothing except that it’s a cute story and I like telling it, I used to make homemade bread with Kid at just shy of 2 years. (Therapy. Had lots and LOTS of people I would’ve liked to flip and knead at the time.) So I explained working the dough to her as “Pat it, then squish it. Pat, squish!”

        She spent the rest of the day stomping up and down the hall with the bloodcurdling warcry “PAT PAT QUISH QUISH!”

        • Eldest was about 18 months old, I was on a cleaning fit and swiped my hand under a desk…brought out six month’s worth of stuff, and what appeared to be a VERY LARGE black widow spider.

          So she acquired the habit of grabbing large toys and flailing at the floor, hollering “YAAAAAAAHHHHH!!!!!!”

          (I was very proud of myself. I actually thought of, and USED, the explanation: “There was a spider.”)

  11. *Wonders again if Sarah’s father is some sort of long lost cousin*

  12. There’s something to that daycare thing.

    When you pass, do you want your kids mourning you or the daycare lady? It’s that stark. (I speak from some related personal experience.)

    • My brother has five dogs. Four of them came from his daughter, who keeps buying dogs. They mostly live alone in a house with a feeder and some newspaper, because the only time she’s at home is to change clothes or sleep. Then her work will take her away for months or a year at a time, and the current dog gets dropped off with her Dad. And then she gets another when she returns…

      I’ve known couples who kept having children, which got foisted permanently with relatives or adopted out when they were inconvenient, who were simply replaced with fresh ones from time to time.

      Fortunately, the niece hasn’t spawned, that I know of. If she does, the kids will likely be treated like the dogs…

    • Aimee Morgan

      I lucked out. The Dragonette’s daycare is a large part of why she is the young lady she is today – loving, protective of her friends, careful with those smaller than her, and totally unconcerned with anyone who feels the need to try to bully her. She bonded with the daycare director, and from the time she could walk, her “treat” for good behavior was being able to help out with the smaller children, or help mop the floors.

      I know that some daycares are nothing more than brightly painted warehouses for young children, but the “right” trend of slamming them as horrible things to do to your offspring is as wrong as the “left” trend of insisting that not using one is tatamount to child abuse.

      (yes – hyperbole – It’s raining, I’m cranky, and it’s raining.)

      • Yes. We lucked out in the day care / pre school department too. Actually had baby, toddler, pre school, pre kindergarten, & kindergarten, separate sections. He made friends that he kept (for awhile anyway) through the pre kindergarten stage. Then transferred to our neighborhood grade school which ran a before/after & summer programs for k-5, which he also loved (hey he got his, now 19 year-old cat, because of this program, indirectly, long story). Grades 6 thru 8 was latch key for about 30 to 60 minutes.

        • I was doing okay with the nursery school socialization…

          Until we had a giant F-5 tornado! No more nursery school!

          (Wasn’t there that day. All the nursery school kids were okay, because it was in a church basement. No more church, though, so no more nursery school attendance for me.)me

          Heh heh. No more compulsory naptime.

  13. “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.”

    It is funny…the people who want artisan furniture, artisan food, etc, and resent the fact that there are such things as factories…most of them never considered that there might be some benefits in artisan child-rearing.

    • You can’t brag about how cultivated your tastes are with artisan-raised children. After all, it takes training to appreciate “artisinal” crafts and wines, you know. *sniffs, sips tea with pinkie-claw out* Anyone can raise children.

      And then the same people wonder why we have so many apparently feral or near-feral children and teens.

  14. To say I was raised by wolves is an insult to the parenting skills of wolves. Oh I was fed and clothed, but it took me decades to finally admit that my father was a screw-up. What was different between me, my wife, and some others IMHO is that we took our religion seriously while most people I grew up with just let it bounce all over them while nothing stuck. One can only hope that is true of the kids in schools today being spoon-fed the secular religion of worship and sacrifice to the state.

  15. “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.”

    I find that kind of interesting as well, but for a different reason. It seems to me that the 90s were the time when the helicopter parents were first starting to take off. Can’t let the kid go two blocks to the park by himself. Can’t let the kid handle a problem at school without sending Mom and Dad and a whole team of lawyers to talk to the principal. And eventually can’t let the kid go away to college without calling every day and being ready to leap to the rescue at the first sign of distress.

    I would have said those who started parenting in the 90s were as a whole more guilty of overparenting than underparenting. Of course, I suppose those aren’t mutually exclusive: hovering to insure the kid’s physical safety and happiness while completely ignoring his moral development.

    • I count myself and my colleagues blessed that the Headmaster and Board of Trustees tore up the helipad. 🙂

    • Part of the problem at school thing is because the schools lost their credibility in justly dealing with any difficulty– they showed they would solve things in the way that was the least difficult.

      Thus, you have to establish scapegoating your kid as difficult. Or leave’m to hang.

      • > least difficult

        More like “least likely to imply they had any responsibility or guilt.”

        see also: Parkland shooter

      • “the schools lost their credibility in justly dealing with any difficulty– they showed they would solve things in the way that was the least difficult.”

        ^^ This ^^

        When you have to do your own detecting to figure out what role, or not, your child played, because rounding up anyone associated with a particular group is “valid” to fish out the culprit. Because making the innocent involved will make the guilty come forward …. (uhhhh say WHAT????) Their direct quote was “Don’t you want to know who was the guilty party?” — FWIW – HELL NO. Especially given what the “guilty” did (stupid, stupid, ha ha ha wouldn’t this be funny prank, given the times, but a prank none the less). I think the kids involved were pulled by their parents out of school. If so they were friends of a friend of a kid a year behind my child who was my child’s friend.

        Was my kid involved or not? Did my kid have prior knowledge? Is it reasonable to believe my kid should have had prior knowledge? Does my kid likely know the probable participants? Not, No, No, Obviously. (FYI, all triple verified). Go away, now.

        Another fact. Zero tolerance. If your kid hits back (not first but in defense) or in defense of another (again, not first, but defense or even prevention) the kid is equally guilty, & punishment is exactly the same, & without personal followup parents don’t get told who was the defender & who was the instigator; they can’t be bothered to do the work. Of coarse said kid just might be smart enough to defend by walking/stumbling between victim & aggressor & when called on the carpet for it latter by school authorities say “They were fighting? Was walking to my locker & stumbled.”

        So, yes. The schools were on notice that we were watching closely. Of coarse kid was on notice too. Get in trouble at school, legitimately, get in trouble at home.

        Then of coarse there was the legitimate answer to any question that was “guess & check” … what the heck … NO, just no. Lets get the correct answer, then double check … gezzz

        If that is helicopter parenting. Guilty as charged.

        College. Well there kid was on own. Figured all we could do was involve kid in process above through HS, but he had to deal with college, professors, & classmates, on his own; we did.

        • If you don’t show the schools you’re watching them like a hawk, they pick your kid for a scapegoat.

          • We were late to the “when called to the principals office for grilling, the first words out of your mouth will be ‘Call. My. Parents.’ Then shut up.”

            Not. “I don’t know.” or any variation. Shut up.

            When we hit that phase. The school heard it loud & clear. We were pissed. FWIW. The other parents, whose kids were “more in the probable know” actually came down on our side, one of whom was a lawyer & offered free assistance. Didn’t go that far. But still …

            Also the exact wording of the quote above, is what my sister told each of her kids … and … She is a teacher!!!

    • Two things: While we did let our kids roam the small mountain village, we lived in fear because in the nineties draconian laws were passed, at least in CO that said you couldn’t leave your kids alone for even 2 hours until they were 14. For parents with no relatives nearby this was crazy-making.
      Principal. Guilty. But to be fair the schools were doing crazy sh*t like try to claim custody of younger son so they could give him speech therapy (his pre-school teacher had specialized in autism, so he HAD to be autistic. He’s not. His brother is closer to the spectrum WITHOUT being on it. But the teacher had convinced the administration and…)

      • most of the people who specialized in it seem to think anyone who isn’t perfectly normal is on the spectrum.

      • Funny. Both my kids actually needed speech therapy as they were both speech delayed, one extremely. (He didn’t speak at all until he was nearly 3….) The NJ public school system spends ENORMOUS amounts of money on special ed programs for just such situations. They were utterly useless. (One good thing came of this, we had priority to get into our town’s fairly decent preschool program. But the special ed aspect of the school system, even in a rich town with a highly regarded system that spends a TON…. useless.)

        Both kids went to a private speech therapist we paid enormous amounts of our own money for. Worked a charm. For the one who didn’t speak until he was nearly 3, it was like a switch being flipped. He decided he WANTED to talk, and then it was all just catchup on pronunciation and such. Now we can’t get him to shut up. :))

        We had friends who also had speech delayed kids, who relied on the resources of the special ed system of the public schools. Neither of them can speak normally to this day, and they’re in high school. And you have no idea how much NJ spends on this, it’s absurd.

        If you need an *effective* speech therapist, you go private and hope your insurance is good in that area. Mine was, anchored me to a not terribly good job, but it had great (in one way at least) health insurance.

        Oh we also had a marked lack of useful family. Some even lived nearby but they weren’t actually useless, they were worse than useless. So no help. One big reason we only had 2.

      • tl;dr; version

        In my experience, any school special ed system is purely a bureaucracy that is expending to meet the needs of an expanding bureaucracy.

      • Oh, yes, I know that the laws are a big part of the reason for the helicopter parenting, and many parents who would like to let go can’t for fear that if their kids were to walk home from school, they’d be taken away. None the less, I think my point that it’s kind of odd that those laws were being passed while parents were being told, “Don’t bother trying to control your kids, you can’t do anything anyway,” is kind of odd.

        • I remember back in the 1960s when there was some (national?) controversy over some parents who’d pinned a note to their (6 or 7 year old) kid, dropped him off at the airport, and expected he’d make it to relatives in England without any problem.

          My parents were of the opinion that there was nothing wrong with that at all.

          Now, the hordes would probably screech for the death penalty.

          • Eh, I think you should probably wait until 12 or 13 before sending the kid across the Atlantic without an adult.

            • Nah. I’ve seen kids as young as three. But you take them to the gate, and the stewardesses take custody, then you make d*mn sure someone is waiting at the other end.
              My dad recently expressed a sadness I hadn’t done this when the kids were little, sending them over for the summer, and I was flabbergasted. They never ASKED. I’d totally have done it when we were trying to break in and working insane hours. A summer off? You’ve got to be kidding me! Totally do it. And it would be easy, though it would require one of us to fly to NYC with them, put them on the plane, and have my parents drive to Lisbon and pick them up. BUT totally doable if no layovers.

              • This.

                On an airplane flight up back in the early ’90s, the kid in the seat in front of me was a minor who wasn’t traveling with an adult, but was instead under the care of the stewardesses. Of course, you also have to make sure that the kid is reasonably well-behaved, and can stay quietly in his seat for the duration of the flight.

          • Enough kids have to be shuffled between parents that airlines have regular folks who’s jobs are to do the shuffling anymore. I have no idea what the cut off is for “too young” though.

            • Feather Blade

              One of the children’s books that I had was all about how to travel by plane as an unaccompanied minor.

              Had a similar one about hospitals.

              … I ought to see if it’s still in the storage boxes…

              • Kids used to do that on trains, for goodness’ sake. The conductors kept an eye on them.

                • Don’t the Japanese have a sort of similar thing, but it’s where you send ridiculously young kids on errands, with the idea that everyone is obligated to help them and they learn they can trust the community?

                  Like sending a four year old to deliver teen brother’s lunch.

                  • That seems extreme but I can still relate because of the many people I’ve met who take it as a personal offense that *they* might need to notice the well being of children (or anyone) in their vicinity.

                    One time someone (a Sikh immigrant, for what it’s worth) left a somewhat small child on one of those horse-rides outside the grocery store… not that small… not so small that the kid wouldn’t have known to stay put. This woman made some self-righteous huffing noise about how someone could steal the child… my kids were little at the time and I was so disgusted by the general attitude that no one ought to have to be the least inconvenienced by other people’s children that I completely snapped at her, that no one was going to steal the child, because SHE was there and would have noticed and done something. Making it darned clear that I was insisting that it was her JOB to do it, too.

                    She looked at me as if I had two heads and huffed off.

                    • /Grin.

                      I resemble that. I’ve been known to be a busy body. Saw who put kid on horse & went into store. Anyone else approaching, if kid didn’t greet, well even if kid did, if not original adult, then that person gets intersected.

                      Better examples. Both 100% true.

                      Was known to make sure batters had wide circle around them. Stopped more than my own kid from walking into the zone, including adults. Got funny looks. Until I’d relate that my Uncle had life long debilitating seizures after walking into a swinging bat as a 3 year old.

                      Known to make others kids stop climbing chain link fences; mine knew better. Parents would then say “I said they could.” “I would say. Nope. Not. Happening. You know your kid’s coach is blind in the left eye because of an accident caused by climbing chain link fences when he was your youngest age.” Silence. Other parent “Get of the fence now.”

                  • Yeah, and it’s a huge confidence boost to the little kid to do a ‘grown up job.’

                    I was minding my younger brothers at the age of 7, 8. Especially during the days where we had to do a lot of shopping since we were settling in and establishing household in East Berlin (the shopping was mostly done in the West side). When we were tired, Dad would park us on a bench with a bit of take-out food, some of the shopping bags for us to mind, and we already KNEW not to go with strangers, and he and Mom would continue.

                    We got a couple of times where a cop would ask us why we were there, where our parents were. “Waiting for parents. Brother was tired. I’m keeping an eye on him.”

                    There of course would be the inevitable busybody making noises about how it was soooooo irresponsible of my parents to do that.

                    I think my Mom was the one who pointed out that Germans thought it completely fine to leave babies in their baby carriages next to the various dogs while they went into the cafe or pub for a drink. Cue highly angry Germans saying that the dogs were safe!

      • I ran across old report cards from Elementary school. I recall having speech therapy in third grade, but apparently it presented the previous year. I KNOW my speech gets worse under stress, and third grade was post-move into a demographic considerably richer than we were. (We had moved from a blue/white collar neighborhood with mediocre schools to one with great schools, but a heavily executive flavored demographic. As the class Odd, the first few years were hell. Eventually, I found other Odds and things went better.) Second grade had health issues, including tonsils from hell. Still not fond of general anesthesia.

        The third grade therapist noted I had a stubborn streak (well, only on days not starting with ‘S’ 🙂 ) and hated the exercises. Eventually, they figured that my speech center was going to do what I it wanted it to do, and sent me on my way. As I made friends, the stutter faded, though under stress I’ll lose words. Or sentences, or the odd paragraph. Eh, I’ll live. At least I can stand in front of a neutral-to-friendly crowd and get a speech out. I don’t do hostile crowds…

    • I read from time to time of a parent being visited by the police after having let their child go to the park alone, And stay there.

      • Most of the time, it’s a neighbor seeing the kid walking somewhere without a parent, and calling the cops to report the parent for “child neglect”.

  16. My now grown kids got so tired of hearing me tell them, “I can’t tell you how to live in the world you are going to live in, as it is so different from the one I grew up in. But I can teach you some tools to enable you to thrive in any world.” Happy to report both have done well as adults. BTW, private elementary school costs meant parents drove older car, stayed in same small house for 25 years, etc. Only thing I would change today would be to home school.

    Also, remember that saying (don’t recall the author): “Even if you are what your parents made you, it’s your own fault if you stay that way.” Got standing ovation from family reunion when said that and, “by the time you are 35, you are responsible for your own faults.” First time all the elders in the family were in total agreement. Good memories.

    • I would homeschool, too. And we still have older cars, etc as we put them through their life goals: engineering and medicine.

      • its ok, with what they will be making, you can bill them later.

      • Home school now? Maybe. Between 1995 & 2007 given a do over? No, probably not. As it was we supplemented, over saw homework, & tutored the heck, out of the kid; as well as ran counter discussions to certain view points.

        Made sure kid knew the “correct” critical answers to put on tests, & why (or if really wanted to be contrary how to word his answers how he wanted).

        To the point that (some) teachers complained. Our answer: “Your point?”

        Come on. They complain that parents won’t help them do their jobs. Then they get parents who help them do their jobs (better) & they complain? Please.

  17. Why do grandparents usually do so well with the grand children?

    They learned from their mistakes.

    • *grumblesnarl* Not always. Sometimes, it’s ‘you’re doing everything wrong!’ and cascades from there.

      • I think it was for cases when grandparents are the ones actually doing the raising, not backseat driving.

        Although I’ve seen a lot of really bad situations there, too, it was usually either because they over-corrected or the kid had…pre-existing damage. (Not a reason not to try, I know folks who were very damaged and are Kintsukuroi— mended with gold.)

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

    Not sure I completely buy that.

  19. “children of the future”? Nonsense. The future hasn’t happened, it’s incredibly thin & can guide no-one.They’re children of the past and the present (children of, not slaves of); and the future will be THEIR child. Jeesh…