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This blog began about poor manners, but as I thought it out, it was leading toward parenting. Recent news and events brought my thoughts more toward parenting again. What are parents thinking these days? How’s buying children entrance into college going to help them in the long run? The student still has to pass their courses to graduate. Are parents going to buy their children their first job post-graduation, and then let them live at home? How does a child learn to deal with reality if Mommy and Daddy do everything for them? They will never learn to respect anyone or be respected. Another similar episode surprised me. Years ago, I heard parents were buying their teenage girls breast implants for their birthdays. That one backfired with them revealing these implants are causing cancer now. A recent newscast claimed that parents were purchasing their sons “muscle” cars so they could drag race. Obviously not a well thought-out gift. Now these kids are dying in car accidents. Finally, there’s the measles epidemic. Twenty years ago, measles had been eradicated. Then parents decided not to get their kids vaccinated. Measles are back, endangering everyone, including their children. Hindsight might be 20/20, and you might want to help the ones you love, but a parent has to use what minimal intelligence they have to help their child’s future.

My paternal grandfather was a World War One veteran who believed in the rod and staff parenting techniques. My grandfather was strict and abusive. Add to that, ole Silas was literally dirt poor. He sold the dirt from his farm as filler dirt in the Chicago area. My father’s childhood would have been considered medieval torture by today’s standards. That upbringing had its pluses and minuses. My father was driven and prepared for life. He left home for college at the age of eighteen with twenty dollars. Forty years later, he was the Vice-Chairman of Ford Motor Company. On the other hand, he was an abusive husband and father who died divorced and alone, having alienated most of his family.

My father raised me using his father’s parenting techniques. He didn’t spare the rod. I came away with some positive results to his tough parenting. One had to earn whatever they wanted. My father taught me to respect others. He was a strong believer in education, but didn’t believe in sports. I wanted to play football since a young age. To play in high school I had to maintain my grades. I did, and that was of the things that got me into college. Ironically, the other thing that got me into colleges were multiple scholarships to play football, and yet, it was the taught behavior that one has to work for what they want that drove me to succeed in sports. It’s something I wouldn’t have learned if my parents bought me everything. My father’s tough parenting helped prepare me for life: a life that gives you nothing. So while I may not consider my childhood as happy times, I thank my parents preparing me for my future. My success sand happiness today are a result of their tougher methods.

By the time I was fifteen, I rebelled enough against my father to physically stop him from beating my mother. Our relationship was never the same, and I decided then that I wouldn’t repeat his method of parenting.

My son was never beaten, but neither did we spoil him. We taught him to earn his desires by doing chores, and homework before play. He was also taught to respect others by feeling empathy if their places were reversed. He was educated at a Catholic school where respect and empathy were drilled into him. We didn’t buy him into college. He achieved that all on his own after some serious re-writes of his application essay where he suggested the holocaust didn’t happen. He graduated with honors, and is now holding down a job with respectable pay. We haven’t had to do anything for him since he was eighteen.

While I’m ranting about parenting, why not teach kids to get the heads out of the phones and games? Teach your kids how to relate to, and feel empathy for others. Teach them how to hold an adult conversation, and that talking back to a parent or teacher will only result in no phone, or screen time for a week.

Parenting is about getting to know and directing your children, not being their best friend. Just learning to talk to them with respect for their intelligence goes a long way. Teach them respect by respecting them. Back to good manners. If children aren’t taught to respect others, they’ll never have good manners.

If you’re already a great parent and I’ve wasted your time reading this blog, thank you for creating a better future.