Answer: The wall is more rational. A lot of parents in T.V. land think of their teenagers as a life form on par with a highly sophisticated tree, and some even think certain trees have the advantage. Nevertheless, I’m here to tell you, you can actually understand them – teenagers that is. Now before you revoke my visa, hear me out.
That should be easy enough. Not. Now and again I make a mistake and ruin a perfectly good elevator ride by reading one of those sanguine parenting blogs that give immensely simple answers to the most pressing parenting issues. Of course it’s easy for these so-called parenting experts to tell a worried parent that all they need to do is count to ten before they respond to their unruly teenager and things will miraculously work out. That’s because by the time the issue becomes worse the website has closed down. Similarly, isn’t: talk to your kids about drugs, a simply good idea? In fact, people tell me they do it all the time.....
Unless you are reading this by candle light on a piece of paper in a cave in Afghanistan (you never know these days) then take a good long look at everything around you. What do you see? You see the culmination of countless people who thought life should be better. They said, “This stinks. There’s got to be something better than reading a piece of paper by candle light in a cave.” Everything you see around you is a result of this human condition. Go to the zoo, monkeys don’t say, “This stinks.” Even though it does, really! It doesn’t matter what they have, they seem pretty content. That also goes for the lions, tigers and probably the panda bears as well, although it’s hard to get a good read on their facial expressions. Very few people I meet can go longer than a few days without expressing dissatisfaction with their spot in life. And none of them like the fact that they have to say it. However, as much as you think that living a life bereft of ever saying “Why me?” would be great, allow me to show you otherwise.
(More on Drugs) I really don’t mind generalizations. I know generalizations are not politically correct these days, but it just makes life easier when you can group everyone into nice little packages and label them with predictable behaviors and buying patterns. Living in Washington DC, I think the average person would probably be amazed at how many people make a living out of predicting what the rest of us will do. I am not saying they are right, but they do drive nice cars. I once took a course on stand-up comedy at UCLA. The instructor made a very important point -- you can poke fun and say anything about any minority as long as you fulfill one simple rule. You have to be part of that minority. It was amazing the abuse, in the name of comedy, everyone made of their marginal status. The things they said no one else would ever think of saying. In the name of that rule therefore, I as a parent would like to add my own personal generalization. “Parents are delusional.”
Parental and vitamin advice are very similar. For starters, it’s almost impossible to know if it helps. Then, even if things start to deteriorate, it’s just as hard to determine which suggestion or pill was the culprit. Therefore, pointing out the really bad advice is no small trick, but here goes anyway. “Don’t argue in front of the children.”
As parents our mistakes fall into one of two categories, the mistakes we know about and the one’s we’ll find out when our kids pick the nursing home.I have yet to meet the child who thought they couldn’t improve on their parent’s efforts – of course that was before their kids became teenagers.Parenting is difficult because parents have what I call “Perfect Ignorance.” It’s not that we aren’t smart enough, it’s just that the information to make an informed decision doesn’t exist. On any given parenting issue there could be 5 or 6 alternatives to pick from, however the wisdom simply doesn’t exist to discern which one will enable our children, or which one will discourage them.How many times have we seen the same tragedy create one person’s courage and yet be another’s disillusionment. I personally know people who achieved great things in life because they suffered from Polio at the “right” age. Could any of us have predicted such an outcome?This is not to say that we should throw up our hands and be completely arbitrary in our choices since any one of them could be the magic potion. No, far be it. We are required to try and figure out what might be the best option, it's just that we rarely know for certain if it's going to work. In fact, every parent also knows that most parenting mistakes were made with excellent intentions.With that in mind, it’s of vital importance to understand what is the worst mistake a parent can make.
Faster than a speeding bullet. Able to leap tall buildings with a single bound. “What’s that in the sky?" "Is it a bird? Is it a plane?” “No, it’s mom!” Like most people raised with a healthy dose of unhealthy television in their youth, I was led to believe that whatever I or the United States Marine Corp. could not achieve, Superman could. These comic book heroes, which seem to evolve into ever more incredible life forms, have led us to believe if we only had another pair of arms or could see through walls, we could solve all of life’s problems, or at the very least get our teenager off the couch. All I can say is Superman hasn’t met my kids. So, what is the problem with Superman?
A desperate man calls a talk-radio help show and says, “I need help, I have a drinking problem.” HOST: “Have you ever tried quitting?” CALLER: “That’s easy, I did that three times just today.” Stopping isn’t the problem, we all know how to do that, it’s not starting again – that’s where the wisdom is. Obviously, when it comes to child abuse there are some real clear lines that I don’t need to spell out. But, as with many things in life, there is an awful lot of gray. When we define child abuse by a set of actions, we can easily ignore many so called lesser actions that can be equally devastating. In fact, child abuse doesn’t have to involve physical actions at all. A student of mine who is a plastic surgeon told me of the teenager who tried to commit suicide because every time he saw his father, the father said to him, “I hate you.” That’s just as much child abuse as any amount of physical punishment. With that in mind, it’s easy to see how a parent can affect his children negatively. I use a simple rule of thumb to test for child abuse:
The Russian communists realized that the process we call “parenting” is vastly overrated. The idea that people who excel in chemistry, mathematics, or even literature can be expected to know which way is up on a new born baby is obviously an act of extreme wishful thinking.Planes should only be flown by trained pilots, nuclear reactors should obviously be operated by engineers, and anyone who has experienced their own teenager will testify that this is no job for the general public.So the question we should all be asking ourselves is, “What was G-d thinking?”The essence of effective parenting is the ability to learn on the job...