WARNING! This is likely to prove the most controversial post I have ever written. I am going to do some serious face-stomping. Hopefully it will all be taken in good fun, but I expect that I may receive my first hate mail for this. Be advised...
As a father of an almost two year old with another on the way, issues of parenting have started to come to the front of my mind. I suppose that I have always been somewhat opinionated on the subject, but perhaps its more immediateness and proximity has brought it more to the fore.
As such, I seem to have picked up on more emanations of stupidity on the subject lately. At least, I hope that's the reason.
If you're going to wade into this topic, why not go straight for the one most likely to get your eyes clawed out right off the bat?
I do not have a strong opinion on this subject in its generalities. I do have a very strong opinion on a certain particular which has raised its ugly head.
When my wife had our last child, she was, of course, bombarded with propaganda about why she needed to be breastfeeding as opposed to using formula. I expected this. I also expected her to be confused about it, which she was. There is some strong emotional appeal to this debate that tends to confuse it -- and has taken a very, very nasty turn.
I told her that whatever she did, she should not invest too much in her decision and remain committed to being practical and reasonable in the end. I have heard of too many stories of people becoming psycho on this topic, and did not want to see that happen to her.
As it turns out, nurses are generally psycho, at least where I live. When things weren't working out to their satisfaction, they began a Nazi-esque bombardment of her psyche trying to bring her back into line. Information, I understand. Guilt tripping I think crosses the line.
"They can 'survive' for at least three days without eating," elicited homicidal rage.
Not feed a newborn infant for three days? Is she serious? Did she hear what she just said?
I would think that anyone who had spent some time as a human being would have at least some grasp of how hard it would be to go for three days without food. I would think that any contact with a baby at any point in a person's life would convince him of the urgency with which they feel hunger. I cannot imagine the pain and anguish it would put such a small child through to experience that first thing out of the womb, or that any person with any shred of humanity would suggest doing it. It is absolutely unconscionable to me that anyone would suggest that the possibility of a marginal nutritional advantage would be worth three days of starving a newborn baby! Yet I have since found out for a fact that this kind of thing is really going on, apparently as a matter of some routine.
I don't care what the nutritional requirements of a baby are. I don't even care what any doctor says. A baby is not a piece of meat or a biological specimen for dissection. You feed it! By any means necessary!
What Happened To My 2 Year Old?
Since acceeding to the right honorable title of Mommy, my wife has had a sudden and understandable interest in the phenomenon of baby blogs. Being Chinese, she frequents the Chinese versions of such things, which do exist and even proliferate.
She pointed out to me something of an ironic contrast the other day. I have written before about the tendency of young Chinese families to send their children away to be raised by their grandparents for the first few years. But even outside of this phenomenon, a good proportion of families in general routinely turn their very young children over to others to care for on a daily basis, even if the degree of the 'hand-off' is not quite so drastic. By 'a good proportion of families,' I mean all families, not just Chinese.
Most, if not all, parents and children alike struggle with the terrible twos. But the reality is that a baby is quite a struggle from the very beginning. It is demanding -- and many parents are transferring that burden to others, only to receive back a child which they do not know how to handle because they have not been in the heat of that struggle since the beginning.
Contrast this apparent nonchalance towards how a child is raised and behaves, with the frothing-at-the-mouth obsession with breastfeeding. I wonder how many of those mothers obsessed with breastfeeding and otherwise obsess over food and nutrition issues pass their children off to others in such a manner? That struggle -- over food -- was absolutely critical, and worth every exertion, but this one... eh... who cares? Food and nutrition are everything, but daycare, grandma and grandpa, small cage with a feeding tube, it's all the same? The possibility of my child's character being ruined -- not worth my time.
My wife has said of the 'bonding' that goes on between mother and child that it is mostly due to the struggle, not the fun cutesy stuff. At the very least, I wonder if these moms know what they are missing out on?
There was a time when I listened to 'right wing radio' pretty much whenever I was in the car, but there were two issues that repeatedly came up that would set my blood boiling and eventually alienated me from it, such that now I almost never listen.
The first was the incessant, outraged railing against welfare -- mostly in terms of food stamps and such and the 'priorities' of the people who used them. Anger at being taxed to pay for things that one does not agree with -- especially freeloading and supporting an outrageous lifestyle -- I understand. I get it, and it really is outrageous. What made me angry about the topic was the absolute, almost willful ignorance of these commentators towards the depth of their own participation in welfare and redistribution.
Unfortunately, that is the nature of the beast. I do not care who you are or what you do, nobody is free from the tentacles of welfare and redistribution. Public schools, public parks, state universities, government contracts, subsidies, mortgage deductions, tax breaks and credits, everybody's got his finger in the kitty. Medicare and Social Security are practically universal, and alone are more than sufficient to bankrupt the entire system. No more need be said. Case closed. I suppose that not everyone really understands this, and I should be more understanding, but I am tired of hearing about it. At any rate, if this is what conservatives want to talk about, I do not want to listen and I shut the radio off.
But this wasn't supposed to be a post about welfare. The other topic that so alienated me was the topic of public schools.
Again -- the public schools are bad. I understand, and I agree. The complaining I get. What I don't get -- and pushes me over the edge -- is the undertone of outrage.
Seriously, none of this should be news to anybody. Everybody knows the public schools are bad. It is nothing new, and totally uncontroversial. They are run by sociopathic morons. This is a well known fact. There can be no other description for people who continually tolerate the outrageous conduct that goes on there on a daily basis. There can be no other descriptor for people who so regularly produce this kind of decision making.
But -- and how sad is it that I really need to point this out? -- there can also be no other description of parents who know this and continually send their child to said schools anyway! If the schools are as outrageous as that, and the parents demonstrably know what is going on there -- pull the child out! Seriously, do they hate their children, or do they not mean what they say? What kind of parent does not protect his children from harm, let alone willingly hands them over to known sociopaths?
I mean, who cares about drugs? If a parent will send his own children into such dens of iniquity, why not have them pick up a few rocks of crack on the way home?
I have also begun to grow tired of encountering the fairly continual stream of letters from 'conservative' parents which amount to something like the following:
I really care about my daughter and her values, so much so that I sent her to public school and daycare for the first eighteen years of her life, and she emerged something of an ignorant lump of meat with personality and behavior problems. She was unable to articulate even a mildly coherent stream of reasoning on any subject, I know, but she really enjoyed music and drill team and spending nights with the football team. I didn't want to push her too hard, you know?
After high school, I sent her off to a very expensive liberal arts college, where she studied homosexual sociology. I know it was a good education, because you can bet I paid a lot for it! She could have bought a couple of houses with that kind of money, or started a business, but I knew her education was more important. It is a matter of character, you know? I was a little worried because despite my best efforts to raise her well, she still seemed a bit impressionable, and now my fears have been realized -- she seems to have become a liberal. I don't mean in the raging liberal sort of way, because that would mean that she had gone to the length of actually thinking about it. I mean, she just seems to sort of tend that way in the things she says and her attitudes, like she doesn't remember the values we tried to give her. But it's too late to do anything about that now since she's already graduated.
I was suspicious from the beginning, because I have heard how liberal colleges can be, and now my fears have come true. I told her to use her head, and not to believe everything she heard -- right before I dropped her off, even! How could she have forgotten so quickly? I'm not too worried about the pregnancies, or the abortions, or the drugs, or the sexual experimentation, but I can't stand the thought that she might disagree with me. What should I do?
OK, that was really sarcastic. But seriously, what do you say?
You paid for it, now didn't you?
Where I live, there is an FM Christian radio station. I do not normally listen to it because I don't really like the music much, and I usually listen to books in the car anyway. But somehow my wife had turned the radio to that station the other day before I got into the car, and since we were driving together and I wasn't listening anyway, I just left it on.
A little talk section came on, and a guy began describing a situation, which I shall paraphrase (from memory) --
Sometimes, people lose sight of what we Christians stand for in the face of the kinds of things we tend to oppose. I have a friend who was telling me that his father has a job which keeps him overseas, so that he only gets to see him once every other year. His mother's job keeps her so busy that he never sees her either. He winds up doing practically everything around the house, like even paying the bills.
"You know what I want more than anything else?" he asked me once. "A real mom."
Sometimes people need to hear things every now and then, like that we really love them. I let him know how much I cared for him, but how much more would it have meant coming from her?
Yes, that's what he needs. A few words change everything. Not a father who would be a man, quit his job and take a more reasonable one that would let him actually see his family. Not a mother who would actually get some priorities and be a mother. Theoretically, he needs love, so theoretical love he ought to get.
So, to recap --
If by some turn of events, anyone happens to wind up with one of those 'kid' things running around the house, he is advised to --
-- feed it.
-- not hand it over to people who are known to hurt such creatures.
-- be around.
And that concludes this lesson in parenting, which is apparently quite advanced for the present day and age.
And to think there are people who think our biggest problem is government...