Monday, April 03, 2006

Our 'Special' Kids

I read Mike Adams' columns regularly, over at Townhall.com. Adams is a professor of criminology at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. Although he is conservative politically, and therefore condones more government meddling than I, a libertarian, would prefer, he is very often right on in his observations, and writes in a take-no-prisoners, sarcastic, style that can be refreshing, especially after all of the politically correct media pap that we are subjected to daily.

Adams' column today, titled Your Mother Was Wrong, reminds me of conversations I have had with my son. The point I have always tried to make with him, and which is made by Mr. Adams in his article, is that while parents might think their children to be 'special,' in the greater world they are just like everyone else. They deserve no special treatment, no special consideration, no exemption from rules that apply to everyone else.

I love my son, as any parent should, because he is mine. Sure, he is handsome, charming (mostly,) bright and funny, but I would think these things even if they weren't entirely so. Parents can be blind to the faults of their children. Others might see our kids as plain, dull and boring, at least compared to their own perfect children. The point is that no parent has a right to inculcate in their children the notion that they deserve anything other than exactly the same treatment available to everyone else.

Our children deserve to be treated fairly and respectfully by teachers, professors and employers. They do not, however, have the right to seek privilege not available to everyone else.

Kids are what they are. Whatever their good points, they can also often simply be a pain in the backside. They are like us. Remember the grief and frustration you presented to your parents? I sure remember some of my own behaviour. Let's just say that I'm not proud of how I acted sometimes. If you, unlike me, were a perfect child, I would like to volunteer my time and energy to raise monies sufficient to have you stuffed, bronzed, and mounted at the location of your choice, anywhere in North America. You would deserve it.

Children not only define themselves by how their parents 'see' them, they also define themselves by their social and/or economic status, by their looks, or by other features they had no part of creating. My son is handsome because of his genetic makeup. Let's hypothesize that genetically I added little, if anything, to his appearance, and stipulate that instead his mother and various ancestors were largely responsible. In the genetic lottery, my son was lucky. It had nothing whatever, however, to do with him. He got the genetic building blocks handed to him. It is still up to him to comb his hair, brush his teeth, shower regularly, and so on, to make the best of what he was given. The same with his intelligence, and whatever aptitudes he might have: If he makes something useful out of himself, he will be able to claim credit for using his endowments wisely. That's all.

My wife, a teacher, told me a story about a student in a class of hers, years ago. The boy, angry at being chastised for some transgression of his, asked my wife if she knew who his father was. She knew, all right, but didn't think it should matter if your father was a local dignitary or the town drunk. You should be treated according to your behaviour, not according to who your parents are or what part of town you live in. Parents who demand that their children be excused from responsibility do their offspring no favours. Their kids will grow up to be shiftless and irresponsible. And then mommy and daddy will wonder where the system failed their children.

The system is flawed, yes. But the ultimate responsibility belongs to the parents. Set a good example, work hard, be fair. Hold children responsible for their actions. And then, when you have figured out how to do these things perfectly, let me know your secrets. I could use some help.

2 comments:

  1. Great post. And, you are right.

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  2. From time to time, children must be reminded that nobody owes them anything for drawing breath...A lesson a great many adults (including the manaca-manaca-manacaing lot too lazy to learn the language and wetbacking into America) could stand to learn as well!

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