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Thread: Teach Your Children

  1. #1
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    Teach Your Children

    I normally don’t read Slate, but I was cooling my heels in a waiting room this morning and was struck by a letter to an advice column. The father of a bright and accomplished 18 year old (aren’t they all?) was concerned about his son’s desire to enlist in the Army, and wanted advice on how to dissuade him.

    My first reaction was “what a jerk”. But then my much wiser wife asked me what my reaction would be if my daughter wanted to major in one of those highly practical arts or humanities or anything with “studies” in the title.

    I’m a few years away from facing such a situation, but it did start me thinking. Better to support the kid despite the misgivings of my obviously superior judgement? Refuse to kick in for tuition to provide a foretaste of a life of penury? Recall my own hardheadedness at that age and simply hope for the best. Parenting is hard.

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    I don’t see the correlation. Possibly die or get a liberal arts degree?

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    It’s about values.

    my kids were raised military proof - they can’t take orders.

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    Senior Member iris lilies's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by frugal-one View Post
    I don’t see the correlation. Possibly die or get a liberal arts degree?
    Hahaha, ok, you made me laugh.

    But back to the serious bizness of parenting: ldahl, sorry, I got nothing for ya. One thing too many people dont seem to understand is that creative work can go on outside of a job. So MANY people say to me “you should be a florist,” as though

    1) that is actually a creative endeavor (it largely is not )

    and

    2) i want to stand on my feet for hours making dull standard floral designs for a pittance of wage

    when instead, I can do work I enjoy and still have hobbies involving flowers and floral designs, truly creative experiences.

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    Senior Member iris lilies's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chicken lady View Post
    It’s about values.

    my kids were raised military proof - they can’t take orders.
    This also made me laugh.

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    Quote Originally Posted by frugal-one View Post
    I don’t see the correlation. Possibly die or get a liberal arts degree?
    Both were cases of actions a parent might have strong feelings of disapproval for. “Possibly die” might also apply to clerking in a convenience store or firefighting. A liberal arts career might result in a lifetime of disappointment, especially at the graduate level.

    Others might have a problem with their kid taking holy orders, buying more house than they can afford or becoming a professional gamer or house flipper or day trader or exotic dancer.

    My point wasn’t about any particular choice.

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    When my step son wanted to quit school at 17, join the national guard, get a GED I was against it. Well at age 28 he has 11years full time in the service, a college degree and is off in a week to 2 years of navigating school. He will be a officer by August. I am so proud of him. We raised him during the teen years and it was tough. I raised my kids to follow orders unless it was something horrible obviously. I think it is a skill that will help anyone succeed in the world.

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    Senior Member JaneV2.0's Avatar
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    We don't all have to be engineers; there are jobs for technical writers and editors, information specialists (librarians), localization specialists, art therapists, on and on. If I had to do it over again I would broaden my skills and probably still be in college--courses are so much more interesting now.

  9. #9
    Senior Member SteveinMN's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LDAHL View Post
    it did start me thinking. Better to support the kid despite the misgivings of my obviously superior judgement? Refuse to kick in for tuition to provide a foretaste of a life of penury? Recall my own hardheadedness at that age and simply hope for the best. Parenting is hard.
    What if, instead of the armed forces or a degree in philosophy, the object of desire was a romantically-inclined member of the opposite sex (assuming hetero tendencies here)? If your kid were really into someone you thought was not "good for them", would you "support the kid despite the misgivings of my obviously superior judgement?" Or refuse to enable the relationship with money/access/transportation, etc.? Or recall how you were at that age?

    I think the same rules apply: warning them away out of judgement may not have the desired effect. It is well documented that "forbidding" relationships only seems to serve to encourage them. And most of us (I think) remember how well we took such advice back in our day. I think you support your kid in his/her own exploration unless it's pretty obvious that the next step is really threatening (e.g., new boyfriend has demonstrated anger issues, etc.).

    Full disclosure: I've never had to parent a kid through the teenage/early adult years. But I've known plenty of people who did. Some did it successfully; other's didn't. The successful ones parented using a net.
    If Americans expended even a fraction of the energy on civic engagement that we spend on consumer ideology, our democracy would be much healthier. Can you imagine people camping out to vote? -- Charles Roberts, Amherst, Mass., Nov. 25, 2006

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    As far as college, we provided a free place to eat and live (or a dorm room and meal plan, but they all chose to live at home and commute) and a car with paid for insurance and gas, and they worked/got scholarships to cover tuition and books. I think because they had some skin in the game they were a little more careful with managing their whims against reality.

    None of the 3 wanted to join the military.

    One of them married at age 19.

    One of them moved to Canada to live with her SO whom she met online.

    We supported all their decisions and no harm came to any of them. The two marriages are doing well 13 years later. Yes, 2 of our kids got married in the same year, 3 months apart.

    One of our kids made a living by gambling full time for about 5 years. He cane away from that experience with a net worth of about 40,000 at age 28 or so. Now he works a regular job for the government.

    We supported his decision as well.

    I’m convinced that there is little reason to try to control your grown kids decisions. And kids are basically grown by age 15-18. It’s counterproductive to oppose them. Very few decisions are evil. Almost all are simply individual opinion.

    (Edited to clarify - they either lived at home during college or lived in our subsidized condo at a greatly reduced rent to them - the idea being we provided some sort of housing. It took the “19 year old at marriage kid” almost a decade to come and go from school until eventually graduating with a bachelors in math.)

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