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Rambling of the Day: In pursuit of our legacy

2 Jul

Emma running in sandAs I often am, I was disturbed by some of the things I heard and saw the other day at work. A restaurant is a place where you can seriously interact with every type of person from any background, with any story and any personality. Honestly I think I’ve seen it all. But I was particularly bothered the other day to hear some of the younger people who work there talking about their bad relationships with their parents. Casually, in conversation during downtime, I heard a girl say, “I never see my dad. He’s always working” Another said, “I really don’t talk to my mom. We don’t get along so she pretty much just ignores me.” A young man in the room said, “My dad is always either at work or drunk.” They sort of laughed these things off and started talking about other things, but I was struck by their words. Three out of three kids in this conversation have a bad relationship with one of their parents. Why?

There could be a million reasons, I know. Maybe the mother doesn’t talk to her daughter because she is just too busy with working full time and taking care of three kids that she doesn’t have the time or patience to deal with the snotty attitude of her 17-year-old. Or perhaps the father that is always drunk when he’s home has a boss that berates him day in and day out, and he simply can’t deal. I don’t know. What I do know is that there is no excuse good enough for you to not take advantage of the opportunity to have a relationship with your children. I could give countless reasons for why this is true, but I’m going to just stick with one, and that is that no matter what you do, who you are, where you came from, what you built, earned, or saved during your lifetime, your children are your legacy. If you do not take time to learn about, understand, play with, talk to, grow with, and love your children, nothing else matters.

Your life may look like the definition of success from the outside, but if your home is crumbling from the inside it is all for naught. We all want to do great things with our lives, to make something of ourselves, but we can’t do it at the expense of our children.

I’m not saying it’s easy to maintain a good relationship with your kids all their lives. As parents, we are not the only influences in their lives and there will be times when they push us to the brink and make us question whether it is even worth it to keep fighting for that relationship.

But we have to remember that it always, always is.

I don’t know what I’m going to do if my daughter comes home someday stoned from a party. Or tells me she hates me when I don’t give her what she wants. Or shuts me out of her personal life because it isn’t cool to tell me things anymore now that she’s a teenager. I cringe at the thought that she will ever outgrow my hugs and kisses. I worry about the day when she becomes embarrassed of me in front of her friends and begs me to leave the room. I fear the crucial moment when she keeps something from me that I desperately need to know so I can help her.

But I realize, from having been in all these positions not so long ago, that these are the moments I must press on more persistently. It is in the struggle to continue to fight for her through the toughest of times that I will win her over with my love. I might go out of style for a time, but my consistent, relentless love for her will be what keeps her close. Even when she strays, I’ll love her the same. Even when she lashes out in anger, confusion, and pain, I’ll pursue her heart. I will never give up on her.

I’m still a very young mom and I know I have a long road ahead of me with my daughter, but there is one thing I know for certain – I couldn’t care less what the world thinks of me as long as my daughter knows that what I did, I did for her. As long as she thinks I’m a success, then I am one.

I was 17 years old when I found out I was going to have a baby. I had always thought my parents were strict, pretty hard on me when I did something wrong. I truly expected to be lashed out at, berated, condemned – it’s what I deserved. I had deceived, caused myself and others pain, and made a complete mess of my life and my future. I thought I would be left to handle my mess on my own.

Instead, a blindingly bright light shone in the darkness, and I was enveloped in the warmth of unconditional love. I felt the full weight of a parent’s passionate pursuit for his child, and I was overcome with a wave of compassion and care the likes of which I had never before experienced. At a time when it would have been much easier to give up on me, they pressed in closer, and made me realize that that is what it means to be a parent. That is what it means to relentlessly and unreservedly love someone. That is what it takes to build and sustain a deep, meaningful relationship with your children. Sure, it’s important to be there for the good times – the awards, the championship games, the class field trips. They make the best memories. But that’s easy; any parent can do that. Good parents stick around through the bad times – and great parents trudge through the muck of the worst of the worst times, following their children into the darkest places of their lives, and filling those places with the light of love, no matter how long it takes to make them see it.

Rambling of the Day: A “collective notion” of our children

14 Apr

It’s been about a week now since I heard of the death of the inspirational and wonderful Margaret Thatcher. Her departure is a tragic loss to the world, but I’m sure the woman of iron will is loving her new home as much as she loved her country.

Obviously, I could go on and on about my love for Margaret Thatcher, but I’m not going to. I think, as a lover of freedom and a harsh critic of the idiocy of socialism, she would find this more important.

In a sick twist of irony, I heard about this ad by MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry on the same day I heard of Lady Thatcher’s passing. Before I say anything, just read it or listen to it, if you haven’t yet. I apologize for any ensuing stomach sickness that may result.

“We have never invested as much in public education as we should have because we’ve always had kind of a private notion of children.  Your kid is yours and totally your responsibility.  We haven’t had a very collective notion of these are our children.  So part of it is we have to break through our kind of private idea that kids belong to their parents or kids belong to their families and recognize that kids belong to whole communities.” Melissa Harris-Perry, “Lean Forward”

This is the epitome of everything I fear as a parent raising my child in a backwards society ruled by elitists who learned nothing from the failure of communism… The idea that they will dig their fingers so far into our private lives that they will have influence over our children. Honestly though, it doesn’t amaze me that this is Perry’s belief system. I’ve heard plenty of MSNBC’s rhetoric – the idea of collectivism isn’t shocking to me. What’s amazing to me is how blatant she is about it. At least when these people try to pretend to be moderate it’s less obvious how insane they are. But apparently now they have no reason to be moderate, which tells me they are confident that enough people have accepted the nanny state that they can get away with saying these kinds of things. With a spoon-fed society in place, the extreme socialist agenda has no need to hide behind the veil of being moderate.

Maybe this doesn’t bother some parents. Maybe some parents are applauding Perry, thinking – Wow, society is going to take care of my children. Perfect, less pressure on me. Maybe some people are naïve enough to buy into the idea that their children belong to whole communities – that they are other people’s responsibility as much as theirs.

I have a message for Perry, and anyone else who tries to shove this collectivist agenda down my throat. My daughter does not belong to you or to any community. I carried her for nine months, I stayed up with her night after endless night as she cried; I watched her take her first steps, heard the sweet moment when she first called me “mama.” And I can tell you with complete certainty that the “private idea that kids belong to their parents” is something you will never eek out of me, nor out of any other parent with any kind of sense of personal responsibility and love for her children. And no, this is not the assertion of a crazed, redneck freak holed off from society, bashing her kids over the head with a Bible and an American flag (seriously, I’m pretty sure that’s how the socialists tell each other conservatives act). It is simply the cry of a mother passionate about the incredible privilege she has been given to be parent of a beautiful little human being – a human being that literally came out of her. My daughter is, in every sense, a part of me. Forgive me if I feel that she is mine and not the community’s.

To those of you with kids that are still not getting it… well, first of all, maybe you should read a different blog. But no, really, let’s break this down a little further. Think about everything else we allow the government to control. Our money? Public education? Relations with other countries? Uh, hello – the DMV?!

The government can be trusted to handle very little with efficiency. It gets too big, too bureaucratic, and things get incredibly messy. Our government was never intended to have a scope that included butting into people’s private lives – and yes, raising your kids is part of that. That is not the government’s job. Nor should you want it to be! We need to stop allowing these talking heads to seduce us with the promise of having less responsibility. It is buying into such notions that runs entire nations into the ground.

Being a parent is a privilege incomparable to anything else in life. It is probably the most meaningful thing you will ever do. So do it well. Don’t allow people like this to belittle your role in your child’s life. You are, and should be, the biggest influence in your children’s lives. It is your job to see to it that they grow up right – not the state’s.

“We want a society where people are free to make choices, to make mistakes, to be generous and compassionate. This is what we mean by a moral society; not a society where the State is responsible for everything, and no one is responsible for the State.”  Margaret Thatcher, “The New Renaissance”

Rambling of the Day: Social media, a modern scarlet letter

18 Mar
Photo by Ethan Marcotte via Flickr

Photo by Ethan Marcotte via Flickr

By now, most of you have heard about the rape case in Steubenville, Ohio, where two high school football players have been found guilty in juvenile court for raping a 16-year-old girl. Obviously I’m highly disturbed by what these kids did, but what irks me the most about this case beyond the rape is the use of social media as an outlet to brag about the crime and humiliate the victim.

Let me be clear: by focusing on the media aspect of this instance, I am in no way trying to belittle the physical actions of these high schoolers. What they did to this 16-year-old in the physical sense is horrendous and they certainly deserve the punishment they are getting. But what they did on a separate level through the use of their technology is almost certainly going to be the more damaging crime to themselves and this young woman in the long run.

It is becoming more and more blaringly apparent that we as a generation and culture are stepping onto a new playing field with our technological advances. And it’s happening quickly – so quickly that the kids growing up in this social media/big data generation have yet to fully understand the permanency of their decisions regarding the way they are sharing their data. These kids are treating text messages and Facebook the way we would have treated passing notes in class. They are failing to see the vast consequences of what they share and how they are sharing it.

 “Digital communication is so commonplace, especially among the younger generation, that those who engage in it are often not aware that they are creating a permanent record of their impressions, opinions and beliefs which could later be used in court.” Ric Simmons, CNN

The Steubenville case is a landmark case not because of the physical crime that took place – despicable as it is, this is certainly not the first time a high schooler has been taken advantage of at a drunken party. This case is so astonishing to us because we are finally witnessing the devastating consequences of the abuse of social media. We’ve seen somewhat similar issues arise, such as what has been termed “cyber bullying,” where kids are essentially electronically torturing each other via social media. But this is different. This is a disturbing display of the viciousness of the kids of this generation – a display available for all to see. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not necessarily saying kids these days are more or less violent than they were twenty years ago before they had access to social media. However, hearing about something like this secondhand like we would have ten years ago is vastly different from actually seeing it – reading what they texted about word for word, seeing the pictures these kids took and how many people they sent them to, and finding out how many people were involved in humiliating this girl. This is brand new terrain.

The consequences of these high schoolers’ decisions will not end after they serve a few years locked up. Because of their crimes, they will be registered sex offenders – a scar that will mar their image forever. But that’s still not the end of it. Going back to the passing notes analogy – the notes they sent can’t be torn up and thrown away. Their texts and pictures will live on forever in cyber space, and there’s nothing they can do to get rid of the evidence of their foolishness.

So what do we take away from this, other than the sick feeling in our stomachs? Honestly, I don’t know exactly. The technological capabilities at our disposal are advancing more quickly than we have prepared ourselves – and our kids – for. But what do we do, then, ban them from sending pictures to their friends? Read every text message they write? I don’t think that’s the answer.

And I’m not going to propose a clear-cut answer, because I just don’t have one. Obviously this is a moral issue, but it’s more than that. It’s also an issue of what these minors have at their disposal. Sure, they’re 16 and not 8, meaning they should have the cognitive understanding that what they did was wrong. But 16 is a far cry from adulthood for a male – hell, even 18 is a far cry for many guys. We allow them to carry around these mobile devices that truly give them the capability to access any kind of information they want. If that smart phone can go online, then that kid can get onto any website in the world. I don’t care what kind of restrictions you think you put on your account – your kid can get to whatever they want to get.

Think back to when you were 16. Even if you weren’t a bad kid, it’s highly unlikely that you were totally responsible and trustworthy 100% of the time. By handing our kids these devices, we’re essentially asking them to be perfect, trustworthy individuals every hour of everyday. Really? How negligently naïve can we be?

Like I said, I’m not proposing a solution to the problem we have on our hands. I simply don’t have one. I just know that we’ve got to start thinking outside the box here, start treating our kids like what they are – kids. We’ve got to get rid of the delusional idea that their frontal lobes automatically become fully developed the day we hand them a smart phone. And we definitely have to instill in them the understanding that the things they send from their devices can’t be unsent. Once one picture, text or video is sent to as little as one other person, what happens to that item is completely out of your hands. They must understand the gravity and the permanence of their decision to send their information anywhere. As sad as this case in Steubenville is, my hope is that it helps lead us to a better understanding of how to deal with social media in a generation where almost nothing is sacred and even less is secret.

Mama Talk: There’s WHAT in that hamburger?

5 Feb

Well, horse meat if you got it from Burger King.

Okay, let’s get real – nobody wants to eat horse meat. And we don’t go through the drive thru at a fast food place because we want to consume extraordinary amounts of trans fats and all the chemicals that are used in the mass production of the food. But let’s face it – it’s much easier and, in most cases, cheaper, to eat stuff that’s bad for you. And many of us shrug it off, assuming that if it’s being sold to the public it can’t be that bad for you. If this is you, I suggest you watch the documentary Food, Inc. all the way through – no matter how grossed out you get – because the thought that things can’t possibly be that bad has got to go. Yes, they can be that bad, and they are, and you’re paying for it.

I’m not going to go deeply into detail about the dangers of processed foods and the fast food industry. Watch the documentary, read Fast Food Nation – or simply do a few minutes of non-government funded research for yourself. What you will find in just five minutes of exploring is that a huge portion of the foods available to us everywhere we go is loaded with junk that is truly terrible for our bodies. This is the food that’s being sold in our country – it’s the food that’s profitable, that is the easiest to sell because it’s cheap to make and cheap to consume. Sadly, this is the reality and it probably won’t be changing any time soon. So if you want to be healthy, you truly have to be actively engaged in choosing healthy foods for you and your kids, or you will undoubtedly become a victim of the food industry.

The most important thing to remember when thinking about your family’s nutrition is what I have said repeatedly about almost everything I’ve talked about: it is your responsibility, and yours alone. The food industry, which profits from your blind consumption of their crap, certainly doesn’t care. The pharmaceutical companies making billions off your medications definitely don’t care. The government has bigger fish to fry, and they’ve got the food industry lobbyists so far down their throats it makes no difference whether they like it or not. No one is going to be responsible for your health and well-being but you. You must play an active role in choosing the foods you consume. That being said, yes, it will cost you. You will absolutely pay more for locally-grown meats and vegetables, organic snacks and non-processed foods. But… I hear triple-bypass surgeries are also quite expensive, so you’ll have to pick your poison.

Here are just a few of my humble suggestions for how to keep your family eating as clean as possible:

1. Be an obnoxious label-reader.

I know it takes longer to read the ingredients. I know people glare at you when they’re waiting behind you in the aisles. Just do it. Read the label, find out what in the world you’re putting into your body, and then decide if you’re going to purchase it or not. If one of the main ingredients is high fructose corn syrup or it’s loaded with preservatives with names you can’t even begin to pronounce, it probably isn’t safe.

2. Don’t assume the front of the box is a reflection of the back.

The nutrition label is on the back of the box for a reason. It’s also in small print for a reason. The front might say 50% less fat or High in Fiber! in big bold letters, but the back could be home to 20+ ingredients chock full of bad stuff. Companies are required to list all of the ingredients for you, but they can say whatever nonsense they want on the rest of the box. Don’t be fooled by the box.

3. Stock up.

If your kid is anything like mine, she probably wants to eat… all… the… time. Instead of having to constantly stop for food (and consequently go through the drive thru all the time because you know you don’t want to waste the time unbuckling, shuffling into the store, rebuckling, etc.) make sure you have plenty of healthy snacks available. That means spending more at the grocery store initially, but saving money when you’re out and about, and, more importantly, being kind to your baby’s belly. My favorites are Trader Joe’s applesauce crushers and cereal bars, fresh bananas and other fruits, and trail mix.

4. For the most part, stick to the outer layer of the grocery store.

Basically avoid everything within the center aisles of the store if you can help it. The outer perimeter of the store is where you’ll find meats, veggies, fruits, and eggs. The middle is generally jam-packed full of processed foods that’ll last on those shelves for years because they’re so stuffed full of chemicals. Stick to the stuff that either came out of the ground or once had a face, as much as you possibly can.

5. Local is best.

Most places have at least a handful of farmer’s market-type local food spots. Go to them as much as you can! The less traveling your food had to do to get to you, the better off you are eating it. Not only are you being kind to your body, but you are also supporting the local farmers in your area – and really, in this day and age, those guys need all the help they can get. And if you’ve never been to a farmer’s market, don’t think that it’s just local vegetables. Most of these places have organic jams, dried fruits, trail mix type snacks, and other items that you can feel good about eating. You don’t necessarily have to go and buy bushels of kale.

I know we can’t always eat perfectly healthy, and I understand the limits of a budget that make it even harder. Just remember that investing in your health and the health of your kids now is just as important as investing in their education and financial future. Helping them understand the importance of healthy eating at a young age is the best way you can contribute to their outlook on food in the future. Do your part as the parent by setting the example that their culture refuses to set for them.

Rambling of the Day: Change begins with us

6 Jan

It has been three weeks since we heard the news of the shooting in Connecticut, and I still wake up thinking about it everyday. I get up in the middle of the night to make sure my daughter is where she is supposed to be. I get close to her face so I can hear her even breathing. I check and recheck on her. My heart sinks when I have to leave her somewhere without me.

Because the world is not safe for her. It is not just all a big playground at her disposal. The world is complicated. It is dangerous. There are people in it that would hurt her if given the chance.

These thoughts attack me in the middle of the night. They haunt me when I drop her off at preschool or leave her for an hour in the classroom at church. No matter how much I protect my child, she is not safe 100% of the time.

Many Americans are awakening to these same thoughts, and we are all searching for answers. We are looking at the data and digging up the studies in desperate hope that we can find the culprit behind the violence plaguing our nation. The president is talking about guns. In an ironic display of pseudo heroism, Hollywood actors have come out against guns. The manufacturers of violence think guns are the problem.

Anyone who knows me knows I obviously don’t blame guns for what happened in Newtown. But the left-right argument that goes something like, “It’s guns!” – “No, it’s not guns!” has reached a laughable level. These people are talking around the problem.

I’ve come to a place where I am almost resigned about it. I know that Hollywood and Washington will continue to talk around the problem. They will continue to sign petty non-effective bills into law and pat themselves on the back for their heroism. I am speaking nonpartisanly, too – no one in Washington will get to the root of the problem. They are the talking heads – the ones that assure us of their good intentions as they stuff their legislation with payoffs to their lobbyists. I have tuned out of the conversation they are having about this issue because I know what I’m going to hear even before I turn up the volume. It’s white noise, dead air, coming out of those talking heads. They won’t do their research. They won’t get to the bottom of anything.

Our culture has become violent, and it has become incredibly self-centered. We are losing our children. We are losing their attention to screens and to voices that are not our own. They are being instilled with values that we would never in a million years dream of teaching them – but there’s nothing we can do. At least, that’s what I’ve heard. We can’t stop them from seeing commercials for shows where people’s heads are being blown off. We can’t shield their eyes from magazine covers and billboards glorifying sex and degrading the sanctity of the body. We have to just live with the fact that this is our world now and this is how our children will grow up.

Oh, please. Anyone who wants to make that argument to me does not know me. They don’t know the strength and determination of good people in this country and around the world who simply will not stand for accepting the status quo. We will do our research. We’ll prove that there is a direct correlation between what our kids are being indoctrinated with through their culture and the violence that is escalating around us. And we’ll show the world that we don’t have to just accept that our kids will grow up glorifying violence and degradation. We’ll prove that we can instill in them the value that life is sacred, and that they must treat each other with respect.

Washington thinks it starts with them. They think the answer lies in passing the right gun laws – that somehow they will put fear into criminals by making their crimes more illegal. Common sense would have us all laugh at such a notion, but that’s what they think. We know better. We know it starts with us. It starts in our homes, with our kids. It starts with a conversation with the parents of our kids’ friends. It starts with mutual agreements between us about what is and is not acceptable for our children to be exposed to. It starts with us.

We can’t end violence. We can’t eliminate evil from our nation. If someone wants to hurt our children, gun laws will not stop him from doing so. But we have to do something. Our world did not become the way it is overnight. We got here so gradually that we could not have predicted fifty years ago what would be allowed on cable television. It’s not irreversible, though. The damage is not irreparable. We have to demand change – not simply from our law books, but from our culture.

Check out the website http://takethechallengenow.net/. It’s a really interesting idea that has actually proven to be very successful where it has been implemented. The site also has some really useful scientific research that is definitely worth a peek. 

Rambling of the Day: Free to be gay

11 Dec

gay-us-flag

Okay, yes, I’m finally going to talk about gay marriage. It seems an appropriate time, as it has just become legal in Washington state. So here’s my take on it in a nutshell. I am fairly confident that within the next decade, gay marriage will be federally lawful.

I am not going to go deeply into my personal views on the concept of homosexuality. Simply, I take the Bible as God’s word, and I dare not disagree with my Creator. That being said, I do not believe my personal opinions about the morality of homosexuality have any place in the conversation about individual liberty and the American dream. America was created as a land free from the oppression of a government that wanted to force the people to believe a certain way. So how have we created a land of equality if we tell people they can’t get married to whoever they please? It’s fairly simple – we have not. (Edit: “Whoever they please” to include only people, weirdos. And only people of legal age, obviously.)

Now, that being said, I don’t actually agree with the idea of having federal law in place that says yay or nay to gay marriage. As a firm advocate for the Constitution of our country, I believe in the sovereignty of states to determine what they will allow. However, I do believe it will be considered by the Supreme Court very soon and a decision will be made that will determine federal law.

So here is the other part of the equation. Regardless of what the law of the land is, I know a good portion of the country will still not be in agreement as to the morality of homosexuality – not just gay marriage, but the entire concept of homosexuality. Honestly, though, I really urge that if you don’t agree with the personal choices of these individuals, that you simply refrain from participating in what you do not agree with and teach your children accordingly. Your home is your domain – that is where you can either teach your children that homosexuality is right or wrong. This all comes back to the individual’s freedom to raise his children the way he chooses. It is about your personal choices in your own home – not about forcing your way of life on others.

Before someone misunderstands me, let me clarify that I am in no way advocating intolerance. That is a whole different topic itself. But when I say teach your kids accordingly, I do not mean that if you don’t agree with homosexuality you tell your kids to shun gay people or go all Westboro Baptist on them. Not at all – part of the American dream that goes along with individual liberty is tolerance for the individual liberty of others. You can disagree with someone’s beliefs and practices and still respect him as a person. You can even – gasp – be friends with him! I know, crazy concepts here.

And to touch upon one last concept… people always bring up the idea of gay couples raising children. Firstly, there’s no real evidence that concludes that being raised by gay parents damages a child. And secondly, if you’re having trouble with that concept, ask yourself which is worse: being raised by gay parents or having no parents? Gay people cannot procreate, which means a lot of them will opt to adopt children. And guess what? That’s a good thing. Two moms is highly preferable to no moms. Ask the thousands of kids in the United States waiting to be adopted.

Mama Talk: Going against the grain

6 Dec
Bratz! dolls: Or, how to teach your innocent daughter how to dress like a slut.

Bratz! dolls: Or, how to teach your innocent daughter to dress like a slut.

So, I’ve been noticing a lot of buzz recently from people genuinely worried about what their kids are learning in school, being indoctrinated with from the media, and hearing and experiencing in their social culture. There are a lot of things that have become “normal” that some of us old-fashioned parents find questionable. I’d like to start a mini-series within this blog to touch on some of these issues that I, as a young and fairly new parent, certainly worry about as well. These issues will undoubtedly affect our children, and, as parents, we need to be the ones kept on guard to make sure we are the ones raising our children. Some topics I will be covering will include health and nutrition, public education, media exposure, and the initiative to introduce sexuality to our children at the youngest ages possible. Today I’m just going to briefly touch upon the way our culture is attacking traditional methods of parenting.

First off, I have to say that I believe the most important thing we can do as parents is to remember that we, ultimately, are the ones in charge. We are responsible for the upbringing of our children. It is our job to make sure that they are growing up the way we believe is right. That’s the beauty of individual liberty in this country – or it has been, up until recent decades. We may not always agree with the way our neighbor is raising her child. We might think it’s kind of weird that her kid has a cell phone at the age of 8 and is allowed to stay up past 10 p.m., but, while we may be clucking our tongues, we recognize that our neighbor’s child is the responsibility of our neighbor. Right?

I used to think so, but I’m not so sure that’s an acceptable form of belief in this country anymore. It seems that at the moment a parent does something that seems off, perhaps not politically correct, CPS is knocking at the door and demanding the parent take a class on how to be the government approved version of a parent.

The fact of the matter is that your child is your responsibility. Not the government’s. Not the school system’s. Not MTV’s. If you don’t want your child to be taught that it’s okay to totally reject his gender, use free condoms from the nurse’s office without consenting you, and decide on his own “free will” whether or not he will embrace the faith you have tried to instill in him, you have the freedom to do something about it. Parents do not simply have to bend over and accept that whatever’s going to happen to our kids is just going to happen and there’s nothing we can do about it.

Today more than ever, it is going to take guts to raise a kid right. It takes a parent willing to go against the grain, and perhaps piss some people off, in order to ensure her child is going to make it. Almost all parents have their kids’ best interests at heart. I think what some refuse to realize is that the world around them often does not. The advertising campaigns for unhealthy foods don’t have your kids’ best interests at heart. Do you think MGA Entertainment, the manufacturer of Bratz dolls, cares if your eight-year-old daughter is being over exposed to sexuality by playing with their scantily clad dolls (who look suspiciously like cross-dressing hookers)? No. Most of these companies are not looking at the future of your children as the issue. They are looking at your wallet.

My daughter is almost three, and I have already begun to see the things I am going to be up against as a parent. I walk around the mall and wonder what these ten year old girls are doing wandering around unaccompanied, mini skirts hiked up to an absurd height, as they nearly bump into other shoppers because they are too busy looking down at their touch screens to bother watching where they are going. And it makes me nervous. It makes me wonder how much I can really do to protect my child from the many poisons that will inevitably surround her as she grows up. And I can only pray that I will have the strength, wisdom, and understanding to fight for her all the way, never losing sight of the fact that she is my responsibility, and it is my job to show her the way.

Rambling of the Day: A war on… men?

1 Dec

Family-or-career-216x300

Suzanne Venker has recently written an opinion piece for Fox News that has upset quite a few “strong” women. The article? “The war on men.” Venker explores the trend that shows women’s interest in getting married going up as men’s is decreasing. Seem weird? The reason, she says, is nearly always the same: “Women aren’t women anymore.” Here’s a quote that pretty well sums up the point:

In a nutshell, women are angry. They’re also defensive, though often unknowingly. That’s because they’ve been raised to think of men as the enemy. Armed with this new attitude, women pushed men off their pedestal (women had their own pedestal, but feminists convinced them otherwise) and climbed up to take what they were taught to believe was rightfully theirs (Venker Article).

Now, if you’re one of those women who just, like, totally hates men cause they’re horrible, sex-obsessed, animalistic beasts, go find another website, because I’m sure I’m about to make you really angry.

Venker is right! She’s right because men are NOT equal to women. There, I said it. We are not the same. Our DNA is not programmed to make us want, feel, and do the same things.

Let’s back it up for a second and allow me to clarify. I do not think women need to be barefoot and pregnant and preparing dinner for their husbands by 6 p.m. every night. Anyone who knows me knows I’ve been working toward a career since I first discovered the world of the written word. I’ve had a job since I was 14 years old. I’m a 20-year-old working mother going to school full-time. I am by no means a kept woman.

But I am a woman. I put the desire to nurture, love, and care for my child miles ahead of my desire to make something of myself. And I don’t expect my significant other to behave the exact same way. Why? Because we’d be broke! And he’d be bored. He loves us both very much, of course, but his first instinct is not to cuddle up and sing lullabies all day long – it’s to provide.

Men want to love women, not compete with them. They want to provide for and protect their families – it’s in their DNA. But modern women won’t let them (Venker Article).

Why? Why do we have to feel like we’re exactly the same as men to feel worthy as women? And, perhaps more importantly, why do we act as though we can have it all, never questioning the consequences of the way we have destroyed and demonized gender roles? Women are the ones who want to get married! The Pew Research Center reports that since 1997, the percentage of women who say a successful marriage is one of the most important things in their lives rose from 28 to 37 percent. But this percentage dropped for men, from 35 to 29 percent. More women want to get married; less men do.

Since the dawn of time, men have been the providers. They have been the pillars of strength. They have had to work hard to earn the respect of other men, to advance their careers, to make something of themselves – ultimately, to provide for their families. That is not to say that women are not strong and can’t provide for their families, because they are and they can. But women who want successful relationships with men must understand the intrinsic needs of their partners. They are not programmed to lie down and allow the woman to do all the work. Back in the day they had a name for that kind of man – deadbeat. Nowadays, he’s just a “stay-at-home” kind of gentleman.

We have gone so far off track it is going to be incredibly difficult for a lot of women to figure out how to get what they want out of their lives and their relationships. It’s not about being better than men. It’s not about one-upping them. I mean, would you want to be with someone constantly trying to outdo you?

Thoughts on Paul Ryan from a “suburban mom and woman”

12 Aug

Andrea Mitchell, NBC Chief News Foreign Correspondent and resident lunatic, has the audacity to claim that Romney’s VP pick is “not a pick for suburban moms… not a pick for women.” I don’t know about all my fellow women and mothers out there, but I am not interested in being told who is or is not a good choice to represent me, especially by a woman who is neither a mother nor an affected party in the current economic recession. Just listening to six minutes of Paul Ryan blowing the president’s health care plan to smithereens in the name of common sense is enough to convince me that he is more of a “pick for women” than Obama could ever dream to be.

I am disgusted once again at the media for constantly trying to associate the female vote with pro-abortion and pro-welfare candidates. Some of us believe in fiscal responsibility, and most of us understand the importance of making our own decisions for our families and ourselves. We are not so easily fooled as to think that because someone supports our “right to choice” when it comes to our bodies that they also respect us as Americans with the liberty to make our own personal and financial decisions. Ryan hits home a critical point by arguing that health care needs to be in the hands of the people, not the government. Obama will go on to argue that he is wrong, but in doing so he only argues with the founding principles of this nation and spits in the face of the American way. Think I’m exaggerating? Here is Thomas Jefferson’s opinion on debt and economy:

“I place economy among the first and most important virtues, and public debt as the greatest of dangers to be feared. To preserve our independence, we must not let our rulers load us with perpetual debt. If we run into such debts, we must be taxed in our meat and drink, in our necessities and in our comforts, in our labor and in our amusements. If we can prevent the government from wasting the labor of the people, under the pretense of caring for them, they will be happy.”

Paul Ryan understands that we cannot spend our way out of our problems. As a “suburban mom,” how can I not agree with him wholeheartedly? I know that I am not going to send my daughter to a respectable college by buying a new Coach purse every six months. I know that constantly charging thousands of dollars to my credit card and never attempting to pay it off is going to put me in a bad financial position that will negatively impact my children in the future. Hence, I understand that our government cannot survive by borrowing and spending incessantly. Paul Ryan and I are on the same page, and any sensible mother or woman will be as well.

As far as health care goes, I certainly don’t think that anyone else needs to have a say in my daughter’s health care. I think if you asked, most moms would tell you that they would rather make the decisions regarding the health care of their loved ones, instead of allowing another government agency (that taxpayers, of course, have to foot the bill for) to take control of yet another aspect of their lives. Responsible mothers understand that we either have to pay for our child to go to the doctor or we have to pay for a good health care plan. Either way, we know that money will have to go toward protecting the health of our children. And that is an investment any good mother is willing to make, even if it means sacrificing other things we may want. And for the mothers that truly struggle financially, there should be and is government assistance already in place, without the implementation of a total overhaul of private sector health insurance.

So honestly, I’m not sure what Andrea Mitchell is getting at by claiming Ryan is not a pick for women. Maybe the women she means are the ones lying around their homes surrounded by multiple children, waiting for their welfare checks and child support to roll in and save the day. Well, I can guarantee those women don’t know who Paul Ryan is, nor do they care to find out. I cannot speak for those women, but I suppose someone like Andrea Mitchell can.

Final Thought: “Experience should teach us to be most on our guard to protect liberty when the government purposes are beneficent…The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in the insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well-meaning, but without understanding.” — Justice Louis Brandeis, 1928

Rambling of the Day: Bringing Your Little Monster Out in Public

3 Aug

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Let me just preface this rant by saying I’m not opposed to people bringing their kids to restaurants. I bring my daughter with me all the time. I also do not care how anyone wants to raise their kids within their own homes – excluding being abusive, etc. But raising your kids does not happen exclusively within your home, and lately I have witnessed a trend developing in which parents have lost all etiquette when it comes to bringing their small children out in public with them. Don’t get me wrong – I’ve had those embarrassing moments in the grocery store where I’ve had no choice but to draw attention to my misbehaving child, and attempt to walk out of the store with the belief that no one witnessed my meltdown. I understand that, as parents, we all have incidents like this at some point. However, there are some things your children will do in public that are simply avoidable, and I will use the example of the restaurant to illustrate, since that is where I witness the most horrific cases.

I recently served a family of five on the outdoor patio at my restaurant. Now, the fact that we were outdoors does not mean it was a more relaxed dining situation. The patio backs almost directly up to the oceanfront boardwalk, where people are constantly walking, biking, and pedaling those awful four-person bicycle carriages (I recently witnessed this where two children were in the front pedaling at about a snail’s pace as they dragged their humongous parents, who sat in the back not pedaling – sad, but entertaining). The patio also tightly packs in about 20 tables along a narrow stretch of space, so that greeting one table means basically scooting your bottom up against the table across from them, making it a bit odd for them as they try to enjoy their crab legs. So under these interesting circumstances, I greeted this family.

Upon my arrival at the table, the youngest child, a three-year-old, her mother mentioned to me, began to wail at the top of her lungs. No distinguishable words came out, just the sound of pure spoiled brat. I tried not to show my frustration as I took down the drink orders of the father and two non-screeching children. When I turned to speak to the mother, she couldn’t be bothered to look at me. She was repeating over and over to her child, “Sweetie, what do you want to drink? Chocolate milk? Sprite?” The child continued to wail incomprehensibly. I mentioned to the woman that I could come back when she was ready, and she snapped, “Oh no, I need to find out what she wants. She’s just being a three-year-old right now.” And she continued to ask the screaming child what she wanted to drink, until finally the child allegedly (all I heard was wailing) gave her an answer.

I walked away horrified. She’s just being a three-year-old? Perhaps a proper response to your child talking to her imaginary friend or getting a little crabby before bedtime. These things are excusable by the “she’s just being a three-year-old” claim. But when did it become excusable to let your child behave like an absolute loon in a public setting, especially one in which there are other people around you trying to enjoy themselves? I kept waiting to see the discipline in this situation, but each time I returned to the table I saw nothing but the pampering of this whiny kid.

Now, frankly, I don’t care how anyone wants to spoil their kids in their own home. I don’t agree with coddling children, but if people want to do it, that’s fine and they have that right. It becomes unacceptable when you decide you want to take your coddled brat out into a public setting and are totally unprepared for dealing with her behavior. I’m not saying you have to drag your child onto the beach and whip her in front of a million tourists. But how about asking where the restroom is, taking your child there, and explaining to her that she can either calm down and be civil, or she can go home and have no fun?

Anyway, quickly, a couple of other things to note about bringing kids out to restaurants:

  1. If you notice your child throwing things on the floor or at other people, stop him (seems obvious, but you’d be surprised).
  2. If your child is the messiest kid in the universe and you notice when you are leaving that he has created an ample amount of evidence that he’s been sitting there (like mine does) either help clean up, leave extra money, or directly tip the busser. It’s just polite.
  3. Don’t let your kids run around the restaurant! Obvious, right? You’d think so, but no. I am constantly tripping over kids running around as their adult supervisors sit and enjoy some conversation. If you want a nice evening out, hire a babysitter; the restaurant staff does not get paid enough to make sure your kids don’t cause a collision in the dining room.

There are plenty more examples, but you get the idea.

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