Things You Can Do to Raise Sane Kids in an Insane World
Arlene Becker Zarmi
Arlene Becker Zarmi is a writer and artist who has been published in over 40 national and regional publications and web sites. This essay first appeared at PJ Media at http://pjmedia.com/.
"I'm the new normal," cooed Caitlyn, with a serious, authoritative look. The long-haired, attractive celebrity model said this while being interviewed on CNN. This celebrity has been the topic of many articles and has graced the cover of many magazines - including the most recent edition of Vanity Fair, where the curvy Caitlyn posed in a swimsuit. The statement doesn't seem too outr, except for the fact that Caitlyn Jenner was at one point in the not too distant past, the ex-Olympic athlete Bruce Jenner.
While it's true that Jenner has not been the first transgender person we've known about, apparently Jenner may have been right. Transgender is no longer the shocking revelation it once was.
Of course, homosexuals and bisexual people have been out of their closets for years, but now states are adopting same-sex marriage laws. Many television sitcoms even offer characters that are sympathetic homosexuals. Movie mags show pictures of famous homosexuals in their couples' modes. Even some mainline papers have run announcements of same-sex engagements and marriages. Then, of course, there is now the ability of homosexuals to not only adopt children, but to have them with surrogates. Quite a change from the days when the majority of TV shows were predominantly safe for children to watch and the producers of "I Love Lucy" debated whether to even show Lucy pregnant.
Many of the other values of the religious and moral tenets that the Founders of this country based our republic upon have also been under fire. With divorce increasing, as well as living together without the benefit of marriage, and same-sex marriages, are the traditional Judeo-Christian family values of marriage and having children and raising them within the traditional male/female marriage in danger of becoming the minority way of living in the U.S.? One thing is sure: Toto, we're not in Kansas anymore.
So, now that we're living in this insane world, what about your children? Can you raise them to have the values of a bygone era, when morals and marriage mattered? It can be done!
Here are 28 Things You Can Do to Raise Sane Kids in an Insane World:
1. Since our basic moral system in the Western world is based on the Judeo-Christian teachings, then the best way to raise children is to be as much within this framework as possible.
2. You must start with yourself - you have to live these values. Children cannot be taught to do something that you yourself don't do. Even little babies can pick up vibes early on.
3. Try to control your anger.
4. Don't use profanity around children.
5. Keep your sex life with your partner a private one. However, exhibiting mutual love is a good thing, and always let your children know that they are loved by you and your spouse.
6. Let each child know that you appreciate the individuality of the child. Compliment him or her when the child does something good.
7. Give your children chores to do that they can handle and that are age-appropriate. Reward them with your positive comments.
8. Choose your friends and those whom you invite to your home carefully. They need not be the same religion as you, but should have the same moral values. As your children get older, it's even more important to choose these friends for good values.
9. Always know who your children's friends are and what kind of homes they come from. You may be raising them the right way, but they can be wrongly influenced by friends and friends' families.
10. Know where your children are at all times.
11. When it comes time to choose any level of schooling for them, if you can, try to choose a parochial school, even if you are not formally religious yourself. There are many good Protestant, Catholic, and Jewish schools that your children can attend. If they do go to a public school, visit the school and check out the principal and teachers, as children are like sponges and will absorb values from those who teach them.
12. Always be involved in your children's schooling. Be part of a parent-teacher association, if there is one. It's important to be involved and know what is going on at their school. Let each of your children's teachers know that you do care about your children and their education.
13. Sit with your children while they are doing their homework when they are younger. Make sure that you see that it is done in a timely fashion.
14. Even if you are not religious, try to enroll your children in a church, synagogue, or Sunday school if they are not studying in a parochial school. Most religious people - those who are involved with their churches or synagogues - seem to produce moral and stable children. For example, the crime rate and divorce rate is extremely low among Orthodox Jews. Because of their commitment to the laws of the Old Testament, they mainly police themselves.
15. Don't do anything that you don't want your children to do. Do not smoke or drink excessively, and of course, never try drugs, or they could pick up these habits. Keep yourself on the straight and narrow and your children should do so as well.
16. Try to imbue the value of good deeds and charity, even when children are very young. Try to help neighbors who may need help and involve your children in this. If there are worthwhile volunteer efforts, join them, and you will be setting a good example for your children. Judeo-Christian beliefs also involve giving monetary charity. You can have a special container where your children chip in as well. It's the tradition in Orthodox Jewish homes to have charity boxes in their homes.
17. Raise your children with pride in their country and respect for its laws.
18. Try to curtail your evening and nighttime social life when raising your children, especially when they are very young.
19. Make sure you have quality time at dinner when children are able to tell you about their day, what they did, and what they learned at school.
20. Read to them when they go to bed. This will be a great bonding time, and also provide them early with the skill of reading.
21. If you can, don't have a television at home, or if you do, monitor what they watch very carefully.
22. Monitor their online computer surfing as well. There are computer programs which allow you to block what you don't want them to see. Limit their time on any computer. Monitoring and limiting are both difficult to do, especially monitoring. If you want them to have their own cell phones, you can get ones without internet access.
23. Do fun family activities together, like camping and taking the kids on tours of the U.S. to see the beauty of our country and its historic sites.
24. Get the kids involved in healthy activities like family skiing, tennis, playing ball, swimming, and biking. All of these can bond a family and help keep kids out of trouble, and away from the TV and the computer.
25. Never, ever shout or lose your temper with your children or you may be in danger of losing them as well.
26. The teen years are the hardest, for both the children and their parents. However, this is the time when you have to be the most vigilant about where they are, and who their friends are.
27. Give them curfews, but reasonable ones, appropriate to their ages.
28. Let them know that you trust them as well. Give them a sense of responsibility so that they don't feel the need to sneak around.
It's not a matter of being strict. In order to bring up children who will have values and become assets to any society they will be in, it's a matter of you leading a moral life, caring - letting them know you care - and being vigilant.
Being a good parent is the hardest and most important job you can ever do. However, if you lay the groundwork when they are first born, work hard at your own moral behavior, and guide your children diligently, you will produced moral, productive, and well-adjusted children, and adults who are happy in their lives, and assets to our country. *