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Thoughts on parenting

Kathy Kellogg and I have been trading ideas on parenting; Kathy runs her own farms, so she knows animals! She asked me a leading question, and I answered at length. The more I looked at my answer, the more I thought I should post thoughts like that, because the topic keeps coming up. So:
Kathy: We were just talking yesterday about how well-raised your kids are...funny to keep calling them "kids" since they're pretty much grown-ups...but you and Kate did a great job. We were wondering how much is "nature" and how much is "nurture." We know so many examples of incompatable family units that it's refreshing to find such a close-knit bunch.

I put most of the credit on Kate, frankly. We decided when we started that her full-time job was going to be Mom, and so she was with them when so many other moms were putting their kids in day-care. Made a HUGE difference to them, her being available for school and homework and music and games (and making sure they did their part of cleaning up and taking out the trash and sorting the laundry...) She's retired now, essentially; instead of a gold watch she got the kids' HS diplomas.

Genetically, we gave the kids height and embarrassing amounts of body hair, but the attitude is based on them growing up in an atmosphere of:

- We are here as a family; I expect you to help, and you can expect me to help you. And we will have fun together, too.
- I don't care if you can catch a football or not, but you will develop your mind, at school and at home, as fully as possible.
- Please and Thank you are mandatory. If you want us to respect you, you will respect us.
- Parents are in charge, but we are willing to listen and will change our minds if you have a good enough case
- If you f*ck up, I will back you up and bail you out. Then, when we get home, I will kill you myself if I think you deserve it.

It worked pretty well for us, I think. We were parents first, and then their friends; too many of the Dr. Spock generation tried to be friends first, and then they couldn't or wouldn't exercize authority as parents.

Kathy: I guess it helps to have cool parents who don't embarrass you...(?)

You can't embarrass little kids. The embarrassment comes when they're teenagers; if you try to treat them like little kids still, that's when it goes bad. Kate almost never tried the "You're too young to ..." gig; instead, she and Maggie were coloring each other's hair when other girls were still using Tinkerbelle lipstick. The other girls would tell her "You have the coolest mom...", but Kate put Maggie on detention if she tried to screw around in Band class.

OTOH, Maggie once made the mistake of trying for the "Just pretend you don't know me at the mall" game. Kate walked five steps behind her, and announced loudly "SHE'S HERE ON HER OWN! I DON'T KNOW HER! SHE'S BY HERSELF!" until Mags ran over and tried to shush her. Kate don't shush for nobody

So that's it, twenty-three years of parenting in a nutshell. Your children may vary.


( 14 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 10th, 2008 03:00 am (UTC)
I second all of this,
but you forgot in the nurture part:
If you can't wit/smart-ass with the rest of the pack, you are dinner.
You can't watch Simpsons. Here's Red Dwarf.
Being weird is better than conforming, or at least conform to weird standards.
Books are way better than TV. Period.
Jan. 10th, 2008 03:10 am (UTC)
Re: I second all of this,
You can't watch Simpsons. Here's Red Dwarf.

Depending what stage of the kids' lives you do this, it could lead them to watch "The Simpsons" in secret and hate "Red Dwarf."
Jan. 10th, 2008 03:20 am (UTC)
Re: I second all of this,
If you want to be able to play "Table Setting Cinema" with the family, you have to watch what everyone else watches. If Dad assembles the napkin box, the salt and pepper shakers, and then addresses the soy sauce bottle with "Uncle Owen, this R2 unit has a bad motivator!", "The Simpsons" won't help you grab two forks and the sugar shaker and start podracing around the fried rice :)

I brought 'em up good and I brought 'em up weird
Jan. 10th, 2008 05:29 am (UTC)
Re: I second all of this,
You certainly brought 'em up good and weird. ;-)
Jan. 10th, 2008 03:39 am (UTC)
Re: I second all of this,
I'd agree to that, if it wasn't the fact that I saw one episode of Simpsons, went "Well this is insultingly stupid. I'd rather learn how to use 'smeg' in an inaugural address and get away with it."
Jan. 10th, 2008 03:31 am (UTC)
And we appreciate the fine additions to the human race that you have provided for us.

Thank you for not making me breed.

Some one has to have the smart ones....unlike this happy duo.

Jan. 10th, 2008 05:28 am (UTC)
I love the final Quote:
"He went in regular clothes. I didn't even know he was dead. I thought he was alive," said Gerit Ahemed, a clerk at a nearby deli.

I guess dead people usually dress differently?
Jan. 10th, 2008 02:11 pm (UTC)
Re: I love the final Quote:
Mr. Valentine's dead, he's drinking Manhattans, singing a coal-miner's tune,
In his daddy's tuxedo and Fred Astaire shoes, he's the best-looking corpse in the room!

"Mr. Valentine's Dead", by The Town Pants, one of those lovely Irish wake songs.
Jan. 10th, 2008 05:52 am (UTC)
I like Kate. Please bring her to Pony Con so I can congratulate her. :)

Your basic model is what I was raised with, except for the "you can dye your hair" bit. I was the good kid, and my rebellious brother is turning into a decent father, though he doesn't quite have the routine-is-safety idea down. But essentially, the truth lies in this:

"Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is grown, he will not depart from it." -- Proverbs 22:6

Have the best

Jan. 10th, 2008 02:36 pm (UTC)
Passing down the history
Part of it is the way we grew up, too. Kate did a lot of, shall we say, interesting things as a teenager, so she was almost unshockable, and if Mags or TJ announced "I want to try (something)", she could usually say, "OK, back when *I* did that...", which took a lot of the glamour off whatever it was. The biggest appeal of forbidden fruit is that it's forbidden, after all. It also meant that she knew how to do things (like ear-piercings) safely, and didn't freak out at the very idea.

Freaking out was *my* job, being raised as a Lutheran and strict Eagle Scout. :)

Edited at 2008-01-10 02:38 pm (UTC)
Jan. 11th, 2008 05:17 am (UTC)
Re: Passing down the history
*Laughs* I know that feeling, having been raised a Boy Scout and Lutheran.

Have the best

Jan. 11th, 2008 11:42 pm (UTC)
Re: Passing down the history
My Mum tried to freak out on me once it didn't work it went something like this:

Me- "Mummy, I'd like to go to the all ages concert at Elmo Combo tonight, you going to stop me?" *charming grin*

Mum "The Elmo? The Elmo's been a dive since I was your age!"

Me - "So you went there at my age then?"

Mum ".....!"

Me *evil grin*

Mum "Yeah okay, you got me, but you'd better wear your [steel toed] boots."

I love my Mummy!
Jan. 10th, 2008 02:43 pm (UTC)
Passing in the night
I like Kate. Please bring her to Pony Con so I can congratulate her. :)

I like her too, but we're not going to PC, so maybe we'll see you at FC. You are going to FC, right?


Sorry, couldn't resist :)
Jan. 11th, 2008 05:18 am (UTC)
Re: Passing in the night
If you weren't so silly, I'd tear you to shreds.

Have the best

( 14 comments — Leave a comment )

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