Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Really Dumb Parents

***Alright ,read this post with a grain of salt. I wrote it almost three years ago and just found it unpublished in my drafts.***

First of all, daycare is the absolute worst thing a parent can do to their kids. BUT, often times I see some parents fumble so bad that my premise gets shaken. Look at this craigslist ad my wife stumbled upon yesterday:

Bilingual Playgroup

Reply to:
Date: 2007-08-20, 1:17PM EDT

I’m looking to start a bilingual playgroup.

Ideally, we could have children (infant to age 5, sibling groups welcome) meet once or twice a week at someone’s house, with a paid tutor who could talk and play with the children. Although fluency is not the goal (not to mention unlikely with only a few hours of instruction a week), this could be a really fun first exposure to another language and culture.

I think I’d like to do French, but if anyone responds with a reason why a different language is a better option I’m open to other ideas (Sua Escuala has a Spanish language one, so I don’t think we should infringe on their market). We also need a tutor or two who is comfortable playing and talking to small children. I don’t think there will be a problem finding one later, but if you know of someone who would be perfect then please recommend her!

There was a young lady (actually in her 40s) who worked with my wife and had her first baby last year around the time of our second. She was a well-rounded nitwit (telling me to hurry up and buy a house in 2006 before they went higher) who I could barely bear for a five-minute phone call. Since we lived nearby, she proposed sharing her Brazilian nanny. Humoring her, I asked, "Does she speak English?"

"No...but it would be good for the kids to learn Portuguese."

I laughed as loud and as mockingly as I could; I told bimbo that I wanted my kids to learn English. "Furthermore", I lectured, " would be a wise move for the nanny to learn some English as well."

You find this everywhere. Clown parents all over think that if their kid can speak a different language then somehow they will be worldly. I knew a guy born and raised in the island-unto-itself of South Philadelphia. All grown up now, he made a concerted effort to get transferred to a Swiss division of his company. One of his burning priorities was to have his kids grow up multi-lingual. (There are four languages outside of English spoken in Switzerland).

Broadly speaking most of us parents do what we think is best for our kids. We tend to focus on what we self-diagnose as the deficits in our own education. Many parents themselves were irretrievably traumatized by "punishment". So they refrain from even saying "no" to their kids, use "timeouts", and grant their brats unbounded license. I myself want my kids well versed in economics and entrepreneurialism because I think it was the biggest void in my own education.

Of course you have the analogue - parents pushing the activities that were most important to themselves. They are the screamers at Little League and youth hockey games. They are the teary-eyed mom's dressing their girls up for prom. I have broached this subject before.

We're all projectionists at root.

Now back to the topic at hand - Really Dumb Parents.

Recently I tried to reach out to a few local homeschooling groups and I was brushed back by a little bit of inanity. They wanted four-year olds doing yoga, communing with nature, learning sign language, and one group advertised itself as centered upon "attachment parenting". That is sheer lunacy. It entails breastfeeding until kids are four, the family bed ("co-sleeping") through teen years, and other seemingly whack-job philosophies.

Here are some comments I pulled from Attachment Parenting blogs:

Hi- Our 11 year old daughter (with ADHD & Generalized Anxiety Disorder) has co-slept with us since birth. She has a dreadful time waking up in the morning and I have fibromyalgia, which is exacerbated by sleep problems. I don't want to kick her out because of her anxiety disorder, but could co-sleeping be adding to her her problem of not waking up? She also has primary enueresis (related to ADHD) that gets better the older she gets. Any ideas on this for me? Thanks, Beverly Anderson

Posted by: Beverly anderson at April 1, 2005 7:25 AM

I agree a little nudity never hurt anyone. My wife and I have slept nude for almost 20 years now. Our two girls are cuddlers at ages 15 and 11. They do frequently come in the bedroom on Saturday and Sunday mornings, slip under the covers and we all laugh and talk and even sometimes wrestle around. They are never nude by their own choice, but accept us as we are. My wife and I are seen quiet often nude or in various states of dress or undress and it's considered very normal in our home. The girls have slept with us before and co-bed sharing has never been a problem for either of us.

Posted by: Johnny at July 28, 2007 10:41 AM

Click here, here, and here if you want to read more about these folk.

Anyway, I spent a few minutes reading about Attachment Parenting and here's what I concluded.

While it might sound crazy, the concept behind it may not be that outlandish. A key contention of this philosophy is that by shuttering small kids into their own bedrooms a parent unwittingly grants and conditions the children the first of many anti-social autonomies. Why do we live in such an individualistic age? Perhaps because we are severed from others so young? Young people today feel no connection to their aging parents - a good nursing home is considered model filial care these days. Yet for thousands of years children accepted care of their parents with dutiful honor instead of complaint.

When I review my own mental biography I find countless examples of things I rejected upfront that went on to become huge parts of my life. My father had to drag me kicking and screaming to my first basketball practice. Then hoops became the focal point of my youth. I also spurned golf when I was young; it was a sissy sport that was interminably boring to watch on television - so I thought. For the last fifteen years, golf has been my only passionate recreation.

The same goes for yoga. My wife tried unsuccessfully for years to get me to try it. I just couldn't stand all the earthy shibboleths like "you have to awaken your soul". I knew a hippie when I saw one. Eventually, I learned to ignore that whole aspect and focused on the physical benefits of stretching and breathing.

They told us as kids - "Don't judge a book by its cover." What I have been learning is a more grown-up version - "Don't judge anything by its worst advocates".

You see your peers do this all day and night. They conflate "Christianity" with the fallible hierarchy of the Catholic Church or Jimmy Swaggert. They conflate "capitalism" with Enron and Wall Street.They actually told me that religion is the only thing that has caused war since the beginning of time! I guess they didn't want to conflate "religion" with Mother Theresa or anything more complimentary.

I myself struggle not to conflate "environmentalism" with the socialist heathens who have co-opted the movement. Also, I always shied away from art and classical music; I never quite "got it". The, let's just call them "wimps", who go to the opera and frequent museums definitely retarded my interest. Given this, my apathy was natural and excusable.

Now, in the auto-didactic period of my education, I have become keenly interested in the cultural arts. Will Durant piqued my interest in antiquity - something that neither Big Education curricula nor my sophisticated uncle could do.

So thus far I haven't had any luck in finding other like-minded homeschoolers. Place like Boston, with its vast number of private schools, haven't really caught the homeschooling tide yet.

***Again, please consider that I wrote that rant nearly three years ago. Boy was I an *angry* young man back then! Since then I've learned a whole lot more about homeschooling and grown a whole lot more partial to the theory of attachment parenting. And I did find a great little local homeschooling group that I'm a bit sad to be saying goodbye to - given our upcoming move back to NY.***

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