Never have I ever…

Is this you: you’re on your couch, scanning through facebook, looking at posts by people who are cooler than you because they got off the couch and did something? Have you realized yet that the people you follow are people who remind you of the version of yourself that you want to be?

Have you ever met someone who is different from you? Actually had a conversation about who they are, what life is like for them, how they got to be where they are in life?

It’s natural for us to gravitate towards others who are similar to us. There is nothing wrong with that, on the surface. The trap that so many have fallen into is to see that border and to stop looking beyond it.

Parenting in this age for some is a very different experience from what we grew up with. A century ago, children were not expected to survive to adulthood. Emotionally, it was simply easier to not get too attached, because you never knew if they would be there in the spring. Life was hard for most everyone, just trying to get by. This hardened most people’s hearts to the plights of others, as the “self” had to be paramount.

With our increasingly expensive modern science and healthcare, things have shifted drastically. There is finanancial support for those who are poor; most of the basic needs can be purchased at mass produced, at relatively little cost. Children in rural areas of the United States have a very good chance of surviving. Even in the cities, the most likely causes of death involve each other, not starvation.

This has given rise to a sea of people who have every reason to believe that this is the best we will ever have, as it truly is the best we’ve ever had it. We are comfortable. We can survive almost effortlessly. The “self” has been taken care of. Even the ever present threat of world destruction of the Cold War has been largely forgotten.

Except that’s not actually true for everyone. If you’re one of the ‘majority,’ it is true. People are so very good at divisions, aren’t they? Always “us” and “them,” not “all.” There is an entire world of people who are not actually taken care of. In fact, they are being crushed by the very comfort that you are taking for granted.

In this new comfort of many decades, parenting has shifted considerably. Each child is cherished. We each want to make things better for our kids than we had it. We love on them with all our might, sometimes even in misguided ways. This is good.

But consider how a child who has little adversity in their life grows up. Never having faced the hard truths that life starts with survival. That the best way to survive is to band together as teams, groups, friends, families. That a day may come that you must rely on the person next door who you’ve never met before because you didn’t need to. Or your life might depend on whether the person on the other side of town who is at your grocery store is wearing a mask.

As parents we have made life comfortable for our kids. The lesson here is that we need to look for ways to get our kids out of their comfort zone so that they understand the importance of “us together,” not just the “self.” The earlier, the better. We don’t need to harm our kids. But we do need to show them what happens outside of the bubbles we created for them.

You better check yourself, people.

This is whats wrong with our country.

My wife is sitting in the information booth for the soccer league, crocheting and waiting for people who have questions.

Up walks a father and daughter. The father begins asking all kinds of questions about the length of a game, and various rules of soccer.

While answering the questions, he frequently interrupts with “that ref didnt know what she was doing, completely useless” and other degrading statements.

He was then informed at length that the referee he was talking about was our daughter who had just turned fifteen this week. He quickly backpedals on every belligerent thing he has just said with an air of superiority, while his daughter literally stands next to him with her head hung in shame.

“I thought she was 22!” Why should that matter? Being an adult means you get to be yelled about by random people?!? No.

Why is it this society is so easily willing to take someone else down? If youre going to badmouth someone, stand behind your words. But no, we would rather apologize, which does nothing for the person youve hurt, and only makes yourself feel better.

The few of society who act completely selfish need to take a step back and begin to think about others. This is what needs to change if we are going to survive.

Respect Yourself

– sung to the tune of Express Yourself.

Look around you. Are you alone? You have two things that nobody else in the entire world, past or future, will ever have. No matter how good or bad things have been, you still have these things.

Your body and your life.

Do you care about your life? Why? Why not? Do you really feel like a waste of space? Do you believe you can change the world?

This world has done a great job of breaking us down. Making it feel like we will never get anywhere in life. Making it seem like nothing matters. There are certainly many acting like nothing matters. Can you really believe that nothing matters? That you could just disappear and nobody would notice?

So you do care!

Then act like it! Why disrespect yourself?

Have fun. Its good to have fun! Party! But you dont have to destroy your body or your future to do it. You can have more parties and more fun that way!

A little alcohol is fine – our bodies can handle it. But only once in a while. Not every day. And not so much you get sick.

Heres a novel idea. You have hope for a future. What about the person next to you? The one down the street? The one on the other side of the world? Do you know their story? Do you know what they have been through? Do you know the story of every person in the world?

Didnt think so.

Then why would you talk about someone else as though you do know everything about them?

Once you respect yourself, you start to realize that every other person around you deserves the same respect. Isnt it because of other people directly or indirectly putting you down the reason that you were unsure you were worth anything? So why do that to someone else?

How do we teach this? How do we spread the idea? Hard to say. Some public schools try, but the kids often think its a joke. Other public schools simply dont have time or money to try.

What about parents? Were all so busy, trying to make enough money just to get through another day. Being ground into the dust it seems like, the very picture of the hopeless.

But you parents do have one hope: your children. Your kids know you are stressed out and hurting. What they dont know is why. They dont know the hope you have that life will be better for them because of the work you do. They may not know that they are literally your hope.

And all it takes is for you to tell them. They dont have to know every detail of how your life ended up here. And you dont have to burden them with everything you want for them. But you can tell them that your life is already better because they exist. Because you give them worth, they are more likely to believe that they are worth something to themselves too.

All it takes is for you to tell them once in a while.

Words of wisdom

Don’t answer every question your kid asks you. Just because they ask does not mean they are ready for the answer. You have to know if your child is ready. Otherwise you are literally taking away a little piece of their innocence. Life will do that in the fullness of time. Hurrying it along will only take the wonder out of life.

Hrm.

It occurs to me that my family really is the most important thing in my life, but I don’t feel like I know enough to speak intelligently about it for other people to hear.

Parenting should be like doctor’s: call it a “practice”. Because we are only practicing here, and know we will never be perfect.

In any event, for now, I have nothing public to say about parenting. Except perhaps one thing:

Be involved in your children’s lives the best way you know how!