raising kids old fashioned way

Today’s experts have their own philosophies on bringing up kids – and to tell you the truth they are pretty weird. Most of them focus on preserving self-esteem with no thought to how much good that might actually do them in the real world. I’m reasonably sure that those lessons will be as useless as Rosie O’Donnell’s personal trainer is to her, but there is still hope (but not for Rosie). What about teaching some of these things?

1) Life is not fair – get used to it. The real world doesn’t care about your self- esteem.

2) You are not going to be the boss and make a million dollars right after high school. You might even have to wear a uniform that doesn’t have a Calvin Klein label on it.

3) If you think your teacher is tough wait until you get a boss. When you mess up, he’s not going to ask you if his cussing you out (or firing you) damages your sense of worth.

4) It’s not someone else’s fault if you screw up. This is the flip side of an often used quote in which the child says to the parent, “It’s my life and you are not my boss.” That is exactly right and don’t you forget it ten years from now.

5) Life is not divided into semesters and you don’t get the summers off. Real world jobs require that you be there every day, that you show up on time and that you be productive.

There’s plenty more, but you get the idea.

To be fair, it’s tough being a parent and knowing what to do in a myriad of circumstances that come up while rearing our kids. It can actually be kind of funny. We all have stories about raising our children and I always remember one from the high school years of my youngest daughter. She says that boys didn’t want to go out with her in high school because I was the assistant principal in charge of discipline. It would logically follow that I would be a fearsome person to encounter when picking up a girl for a date. Don’t know where that came from, but here’s the short version of the story.

Brave boy comes up our driveway to pick up daughter for a date and honks the horn. Did not come to the door and ring the bell. Uh oh. He got off to a rocky start with that strategy. I came out and went over to him and said, “Son I hope you are from UPS and are dropping off a package because you sure as %&#@ ain’t picking one up. Boy leaves and never returns. End of story. I guess that’s how I got that rap from my daughter. I still get reminded of it to this day.

I also had a friend who raised boys and he gives this account of a teachable moment. His son was soon to be sixteen, and of course, wanted a car. The dad said he would buy the automobile with certain stipulations. The boy had to clean his room regularly, improve his grades, and cut his long hair. A few weeks later the room had been consistently tidy, the grades had improved, but the hair was still uncut. The dad told his son that two out of three was good, but he had not fulfilled the bargain because his hair was still long. The son attempted the guilt trip tactic and said, “Did you ever notice that Jesus had long hair?” The dad replied, “If you read your Bible closely you will notice that Jesus walked everywhere he went.” Tough love at its finest.

Another thing that I think would generally be helpful to parents of teenage children is to require that they be able to operate the vacuum cleaner, the leaf blower, a broom, a dish towel, and the lawn mower before they can get a driver’s license. For some unknown reason they have a much harder time learning how to operate the lawn mower than they do in mastering the steering wheel and brakes on a car.

There is no way we can cover all the advice we need to give children because each one is unique and we all face an assortment of challenges. Here are a few gems that might be helpful.

1) Nothing good happens after midnight
2) Don’t put peas in your nose
3) Don’t lick the dog
4) Go outside when the sun is out

Last of all there always seems to be an issue with how to handle a child who is not feeling well and doesn’t want to go to school. My mom had her own unique way of getting to the bottom of that predicament. “Go poop” she would say. “If that doesn’t work, we’ll take a little castor oil. And if that still doesn’t solve it, we’ll perform a quick enema and clean you out.” You could always recognize me at school. I was the one with sturdy bowels and perfect attendance.

As for self-esteem our teachers required that it be left at the door during learning time, and in retrospect, it seems to me that it worked out pretty well.

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Alvin Richardson
After thirty-six years in education as a teacher, coach, and administrator, Alvin Richardson writes weekly outdoor articles and humor columns for the Morgan County Citizen, the Statesboro Herald, Greensboro Herald, and the Milledgeville Union-Recorder. A native of Rutledge, Georgia, he served as head football coach, athletic director and assistant principal for Morgan County High School. After retirement, he served as principal at the Morgan County Crossroads School for Alternative Education. Coach Richardson’s long history with football began at Cook High School under former Moultrie Coach Bud Willis and went on to work under the legendary coach Larry Campbell at Lincoln County High School. Richardson writes for Georgia Outdoor News magazine and the Georgia Gridiron Guide. He is author of It’s a Dawg’s Life, a sixty year historical account of the Morgan County football program, and Tracks of the Red Elephant, a 100 year history of the Gainesville High School football program. He has written four other books on high school football and is currently working on a book about Wildcat football.

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