Thursday, July 22, 2004
The sins of the fathers
Via Cal Thomas at Townhall:
According to a survey by the Southern Baptist Council on Family Life:
- "The majority of children in America have less than 10 minutes of significant and meaningful conversation with their parents each week. If you remove the mother, you can measure this statistic in seconds."
I understand that humans are weak, selfish, distracted, and self-absorbed, but few things bother me more than the way a great many people (perhaps, a large majority) treat their children.
Conservative Christians could use an "extreme makeover" to repair their own homes before they demand that others conform to a standard they themselves have trouble meeting.
The radio talk show personality, Michael Savage, had a recent show where he ranted (which he tends toward, but his rants often entertain) about anti-social behavior. The bad manners creep where normal behavior has become abnormal, and boorish, rude acts are commonplace. He blamed the Left and liberalism for it, because of their promotion of permissiveness, "tolerance", and license.
Anyway, he had people call in to tell him their pet peeves regarding cretans. A number called in about obnoxious neughbors (loud, wild children, viciously rude), and often added, "And they call themselves Conservatives!" This bothered them becuse they expected (or hoped) that only liberals were so vilely inconsiderate.
Yes, and you'll meet many a man who's served honorably in combat, yet, who's also is a real jerk; however brave and courageous he has been, he's impossible to get along with.
Yet, in reference to that sad statistic above about parents, I don't know if I can remember more than one or two meaningful conversations with my father in my entire life. They were usually admonitory or advisory, brief, and without affection. They never reflected any actual interest in me other than as cautionary. Sort of like, "don't go swimming for half an hour after eating."
Pretty much ditto for my mother, although we did talk at the dinner table every night about school, and were instructed on the starving children of India. Clean that plate!
I'm not looking to drum up sympathy, but to note that it seemed like most kids I knew were treated pretty much the same by their parents. Affection was sparing, we were told to go out and play, while the adults sat around smoking and talking.
If we saw a mother hugging and kissing her kid, she was usually over doing it because she was doting, and the kid was disgusted and trying to free himself from her obsessive clutches.
Occasionally, though, I did see fathers and sons at events like baseball games, involved in sports, or the Boy Scouts where the children and parent were happy together and used to enjoying their company.
I do painfully recall that my school would annually put on a fathers and sons event. My father never took me (he took one of my brothers once), and I felt the loss and shame when my classmates talked about the fun they had at it with their dads.
I watch fathers with their children now. I watch them at the store, the park, the beach, or anywhere, and from my observation, nearly all the dads I watch seem quite caring and conscientious toward their infants, toddlers, and young 'uns. So this report above surprises me.
I know many unattentive parents, too, but maybe the term "majority" applies to a positive trend. If the report had read, "a majority of parents still are unattentive to their children, although more today are not compared to 40 years ago" that would have been better. I hope it's true.
Many fathers treat parenthood as a chore, though, which interferes with their after work hobbies and pursuits (like softball, drinking beer, watching TV -- whatever).
For me, the best hours of my life have been spent in the company of my daughter and wife. I like men. I enjoy being around a group of guys. I love the toughness ethic and humor, or working together on a project, but for sheer bliss, I never laughed so much as when my child was small, or felt as purposeful as when she crawled into our bed for security.
posted by Mark Butterworth |