I firmly feel that everyone has the right to believe whatever they want.
If you believe that the world was created in 7 days and that the omnipotent creator of the universe allowed his only son to be sacrificed to redeem the sins of humanity, good for you.
If you believe that a pantheon of gods and goddesses directly oversee many aspects of life on earth, such as seasons, tides, weather, the harvest and death, more power to you!
If you believe that the universe was sneezed out of the nostril of a giant space goat, I suppose that’s just as valid as any other theory. I’ll come back to this.
As I’m sure you all know, I am a deeply religious man. I am constantly prostrating myself before the idol of irony, often involuntarily. I would like to offer up the Commandments by which I attempt to live and parent. I hope that they will be useful to you in your own spiritual journey through parenthood.
I will also state that I don’t follow these nearly as often as I would like because I am a hypocrite and controlled by my emotions.
But I do try.
Everyone knows someone in their lives who, when asked what they want for their birthday or Christmas or Hannukah or housewarming or whatever, will reply that they don’t want anything. Usually, these people are being polite and do want something but are either too humble to ask, or it’s too expensive to ask someone to buy for them.
Or they want something weird and don’t want you to know that they want it…
There is, however, one group of people who, when they say “please don’t get anything” are 100% serious: Parents.
One of my favorite book excerpts comes from Freakonomics by Steven Levitt, which is a continuation of his paper “The Causes and Consequences of Distinctly Black Names.” He talks about how there are no people in power who have really off-the-wall names that we usually associate with African American youth. He talks about unfortunate children with names like “Female” because the mother thought the doctors had named her when they wrote down the gender. He alludes to other famous stories, such as the brothers, Orangejello and LeMonjello, whose parents named them after two things they had sitting around the house.
Levitt discovers through his complex economic regression that it isn’t the name that makes life hard, but that a bad name is a symptom of a much bigger problem, that being bad parenting. Essentially, if your parents can’t be bothered to come up with a good name for you, most likely, they are going to be negligent parents and you will not get all of the opportunities that will help you succeed.
As a father-to-be, or if you are having more children, one of your first responsibilities to your offspring is make sure that their names are well considered.
I received my first teaching job right out of college. I have been fortunate enough to have had teaching experiences with students who come from all different places on the socio-economic scale. I have had many interactions with the parents of my students, both positive and negative and when my daughter was born, I began thinking more heavily about education from the parental view, as well as the teacher side.
If you happen to be the parent of a child in the public school system, or even someone who doesn’t live under a rock, then you are aware of the current trend of attacks on teachers and teachers’ unions for being greedy, lazy and ineffective, how our schools are failing, and how everyone should put their kids in private or charter schools. There are, however, many aspects of the teacher side that are not told because of either fear of professional reprisal, or because parents simply don’t want to hear them.
All right-thinking young men, and many right-thinking young women, had dreams of growing up to be Batman. Playboy billionaire by day, stoic ass-kicker at night with all the coolest toys! As we have grown up, VERY few of us have the means to bring these dreams to fruition. As we have become parents, we try to be superheroes for our kids, but we rarely get to wear the cape of “DADMAN!! Defender of naptimes everywhere!!!”
It’s not nearly as glamorous.
One man, however, gets to live his dream!
We as Americans value two things more highly than any other. We tout these to the rest of the world as the reason that our country is the greatest on the planet. We give them as reasons for being the object of hate of terrorists and oppressed people everywhere.
More than anything else, we love opportunity! The greatest thing about this country is that everyone has the opportunity to be successful. (Apparently)
The second greatest thing, is the ability to resent those with better opportunities, such as our children. This must be done, however, with the greatest level of efficiency. For, you know, freedom.
Here is a handy-dandy guide to helping parents resent their children in the most effective ways possible.