Wednesday, August 17, 2005


So in this third and final edition of what's up with Kids Today (yes bubba, this is it, I swear), I wanted to add my two cents worth of advice on raising children and what parents, churches and other nonprofit groups, and our government can do better.

I start with this link from Off the Kuff, because it is a timely testament to my thesis. it is an article in the Dallas Morning News about the Price of Wealth involving Plano parents who spend themselves into bankruptcy trying to help their kids (and themselves) fit in. Without reading the piece, I bet the picture that popped into your head was a couple of boomers trying to pay for big ticket cars, cheerleading and college, but you would be wrong. The featured couple were 24 year-olds with toddlers and a baby grand. Talk about buying into the American Dream. The parents of these young parents no doubt taught their children the comforts of Retail Therapy and now its great rewards are being passed on to the next generation.

What can parents do to break this evil cycle? Stop buying - stop buying into the notion that things mean more than people, that happiness can be had with a wallet full of plastic and a full tank in you Lexus, or that the images from Hollywood or Madison Avenue have anything to do with real life. Stop working - stop working because you think your kids need something other than you. Stop working so much they never see you. Stop working the remote, the DVD, the phone and the computer. Stop believing - stop believing everything you see, hear and read; most of it is crap. Stop believing that you are somehow not enough for your children; you are more than enough, if you take the time to be. Stop believing that God wants anything from you but faith, hope and love; the worst acts in history have all been don't in His name, think about it.

Once parents buy into the value of spending time more than money, start working towards a happy home life and begin believing in their rights and responsibilities as parents, children will accept these concepts too. While change is slow, it should not take very long for families to notice the difference. More time together will help both parents and children sleep better, function more efficiently during the day, eat more healthily and have less medical problems. Spending less money, saving more towards their own future, driving less (walking more) all make individuals better off financially, physically and emotionally. Churches and other non-profit organizations should see an increase in voluntarism and a decrease in need as families learn to do more for others and want less for themselves. Government can concentrate on the needs of the under-privledged and the elderly, healthcare and homeland security, the environment and the economy, because families will be taking care of themselves.

I know this sounds terribly Utopian but it is the way the world works in my crazy brain. Government works best when it works least. Family values are family issues and not something church or state should command or legislate. A free society exists because of the individual, not inspite of them. So why isn't this what is happening today? Bhlogger hit the nail on the head a while back; if you believe in conspiracy theories, this one is a doosy. It is not in the vested financial interests of the church or state for families to be successful. To ensure growth and financial prosperity, both need instability, at least in working class families. Supply-side economics and religious conservatism need silent, docile, passive worker bees and drones to build a bigger beehive, make more honey and keep the queen happy. Fear of the unknown, financial insecurity and a promise of community keep the bees buzzing and not out searching for their own hive.

It should not be unpatriotic or anti-religious to want what is best for your own family first and for churches and government to fill any voids that exist. It is the way the founding fathers wanted this country to be, but that is a whole other post. The problem with kids today is a disconnect between the American Dream and the best interests of our children, our families and the world. Where and when the changes come is up to us; lets not wait until it is too late.