By John Rosemond
Every time, a smile breaks out on the person’s face, then he or she chuckles and answers, “I don’t think so.”
Today’s parents, by contrast, talk about their children’s “needs” a good amount. They aren’t referring, however, to actual needs like air, food, clean water, protection from the elements, and good medical care in the event of illness. They’re actually referring to entitlements like a child’s “need” to have teachers who recognize and respond properly (according to the child’s parents’ definition of the term) to the child’s unique learning style and the “need” for the child to experience life without ever experiencing failure or emotional distress of any sort (if that can be accurately called life).
Parents with this sort of orientation were once called overprotective. It was recognized that despite their intentions, they were doing slow but sure harm to their children. Today, what was once anomalous has become the norm. And the harm is apparent. Compared with my generation, today’s children perform less well in school at every grade and are considerably more likely to experience serious emotional problems before adulthood. They are also having great difficulty uncoupling themselves from their parents’ protections and successfully emancipating.
The difference is that today’s parents believe their responsibility is to their children whereas the parents of two generations past believed their responsibility was to the culture. Today’s parents are trying to insure their children’s success and happiness. Yesterday’s parents were trying to produce good citizens, which is why they said things like “good citizenship begins at home.” The fact that parents no longer talk like that means something.
Yesterday’s parents saw the raising of children through wide-angle lenses while today’s parents have tunnel vision, and the entire visual field at the end of any given tunnel is occupied by a child. Today’s parents have great difficulty placing their children in a broad socio-cultural context.
They’re also near-sighted. When I ask one of them, “What is your mission statement?” they look at me like I’m speaking a dead language, which I suppose I am. Do they not know what they’re trying to accomplish?
I propose that yesterday’s parents had it right. The only proper end goal of child rearing in America is to strengthen America. It is not all about the child. It is about one’s responsibility to this country. It’s not about raising a child who makes straight A’s, earns a scholarship to a top-tier college, is the best center-forward in the NCAA, etcetera. It’s about raising an adult who will be a good neighbor, someone who will be helpful and courteous and respectful and compassionate and charitable and responsible and so on. Most of all, it’s about raising a child who will pass the baton of good citizenship properly to his or her kids.
When that’s the goal, everything else will fall into its proper place.
The child may not make the best grades, but he will will respect adults and do his best. As an adult, he may not wear an Italian silk tie to work or make a lot of money, but he will be a good neighbor.
In short, it’s not about the child’s supposed needs; it’s about what America needs.
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By Lou Phelps
No matter your view on the facts of the case and the verdict, I think the case resonated with many parents who found themselves wondering if their own parenting skills in any way resembled the enabling behavior that seemed to have existed in the George and Cindy Anthony household.
They loved their daughter so much that they failed to address her emotional and mental illness issues. Casey failed to mature, appears to have been a sociopath and was not able to responsibly raise a child.
The Anthony family is not alone. Many parents – both rich and poor in Savannah – are dealing with a troubled teen or 20-something that they love.
What should a parent do? Where do you go for help? Do you throw them out of your home to let them potentially live on the street, or if you’re a ‘Mom who LOVES her child’ do you make sure they have a roof over their head and food to eat…because you love them?
Do you allow them in your home and around their siblings even if you are afraid of them, or afraid of the people ‘around’ them?
Her death was particularly devastating for me because she had talked openly about her son’s problems and the friends he associated with. She had told me that she was afraid of exactly the kind of scenario that took place.
Cindy Pingel was a business woman, working on a masters in human resources evenings at the University of Phoenix campus in Savannah while holding onto two jobs to pay the bills, and managing a home she owned in Windsor Forest. She was white, middle class and from a respected Savannah family. But she had a troubled son she loved dearly.
Certainly, most of us who have raised teenaged girls have heard Casey talking back to her mother in those infamous jailhouse videos, repeatedy saying…”Mom!” in indignation…and then going on and on with their views of event, with lots of drama and with disgust at ‘Mom.”
Her voice and manner of speaking to her mom, Cindy Anthony, at moments sent chills down my spine, I’ll assure you. I’ve heard that voice.
Was I too indulgent with the two daughters I raised? Did I look past faults that I should have put on the dinner table and insist we discuss? Even today, do I stand up for myself when a beloved daughter of mine speaks to me with less than complete respect? A mother’s work is never done, they say.
The question is, where do we draw the line in raising our children between acceptance of their faults and insistence on confronting them? How do we best “love” them?
There are terms in vogue today such as ‘helicopter parents’ – Moms and Dads who smother their children with love and never allow them to stumble and fall – thereby stealing from them the experience of failure and the ability to learn to succeed on their own. Those life skills are critical.
Are we raising children who feel entitled, who may function well through high school to please us and others in authority, but when they hit college…and are on their own…they don’t function well at all. They are not learning for themselves…don’t understand what it takes to create an adult life and function on their own.
It appears clear that Cindy and George Anthony had a daughter that was troubled for many years, but they didn’t get her help, they allowed her to live in their home despite her constant lying and theft of their credit cards - and they looked the other way. What parent would be fooled for years that there was NO nanny; that she didn’t have a job at Universal Studios; that she had NO source of money?
Their breed of love may have led to behavior and a mindset that ended in the loss of the life an innocent toddler.
What can we all learn from this case?
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