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Teach your children

Andrew Galarneau has an excellent article in today's Buffalo News, examining what seems to be an ever-increasing vacuum in parents taking responsibility for the proper upbringing of their children.

A thought that occurred to me as I read the story is that almost everything about parenting seems to involve finding a happy medium. When it comes to involvement in their children's lives, I classify the two extremes as Homer Simpson vs. Ned Flanders.

Homer personifies the uninvolved parent. In one Simpsons flashback episode, Marge called out to Homer that baby Lisa was taking her first steps. "Are you taping it?" Homer said, not looking up from his TV screen. "Yes," Marge said. "I'll watch it later then," was Homer's reply.

The uninvolved parent uses hockey practice or church or Earth Day cleanup as drop-off babysitting. The kids are left there while the parent heads out for some sort of self-actualization activity. Or a stiff drink.

Then there are the smother parents, the Ned Flanders of the world who micromanage every aspect of their child's day, from their daily sugar intake to which play devices they climb upon at the playground.

The Washington Post ran a story this week about parents who do their children's homework and school projects for them. Exactly what lessons are the kids learning from that?

Pundits and politicians have been throwing around the phrase "teachable moment" to describe what happened when radio's Don Imus used a degrading phrase to describe the Rutgers women's basketball team. But real teachable moments are what happen every day, when we read to our kids, or stay to watch their hockey practice, or skip watching a baseball game to play catch with our own sons or daughters.

Sorry, didn't mean to make this a preachable moment.


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