Saturday, November 1, 2014


                                                  “JUSH COMMON ZENZ”   

     While I was a captive audience in the giant recliner at my 6-month teeth-cleaning appointment recently, I listened to my hygenist describe the engagement of her daughter.

     “How old izshee? I mumbled as she sucked the life out of my saliva.
     “NYYYTEEN?!” I sputtered.

     She went on to tell me that once the daughter and her boyfriend decided to get married, the daughter went right out and put a down payment? on a $1400 wedding gown. 

     “She expects me to pay for her phone, her car insurance and her college tuition even though she’s going to be married. I told her I’d help her with her dress,” she rambled on.

     By now, I am gulping, wheezing, squirming under my drool-drenched chain-bib unable to believe what I am hearing.

     When I was 13, my mother had back surgery. I was put in charge of making dinner. It doesn’t matter whether I recall liking it or not, I did it. I learned to cook. Do I cook now? Sort of, but I know how if I need to, and that’s the point. 
     What child at four can’t make a peanut butter sandwich? What child at eight can’t take out the garbage? What child at twelve can’t iron his own shirt? In my humble opinion, any mom who is making her kids’ beds after age eight needs serious counseling. 
     If we want husbands and wives to share household chores, men need to learn early on and understand that there’s no gender assigned to cleaning a toilet or fluffing a pillow. I have not ironed a man’s shirt since 1967, and I have no intention of doing so. Mr. Wonderful has no issue with sweeping a floor or washing down a shower stall. I have cut my own lawn, emptied my trash, and washed many cars in my day. It’s called sharing responsibility. I fear, as the article states, that we may be raising a generation of helpless kids.  

  Today on Facebook, someone posted an article from the Huffington post about a non-profit organization that focuses on teaching kids responsibility and how to do things for themselves. Hello. 

    In the Huffington article, a family psychologist, John Rosmond in an article published in an Atlanta journal stated

     "We need to let our kids fail at 12 - which is far better than at 42," he says. "We need to tell them the truth (with grace) that the notion of 'you can do anything you want' is not necessarily true.”

     Kids need to align their dreams with their gifts. Every girl with a lovely voice won't sing at the Met; every Little League baseball star won't play for the major leagues.

  • Allow them to get into trouble and accept the consequences. It's okay to make a "C-." Next time, they'll try harder to make an "A".

  • Balance autonomy with responsibility. If your son borrows the car, he also has to re-fill the tank.

  • Collaborate with the teacher, but don't do the work for your child. If he fails a test, let him take the consequences.

     "We need to become velvet bricks,” said the owner of a non-profit organization working on this issue, “soft on the outside and hard on the inside and allow children to fail while they are young in order to succeed when they are adults.”

     In my humble opinion, parents have always had to weigh carefully how much we nurture and how strict we set our kids’ boundaries. There are no courses that teach us how to parent; it’s usually a reaction from our own upbringing. Sometimes that’s a good thing, sometimes, not so much. 
     Some think it’s all common sense. I disagree. There are new pressures on every generation of parents, particularly on single parents, and there are no ribbons for those who succeed. My parents made many mistakes, and so did I, but hopefully we all learn from them. I believe most of us did the best we could.

    I do believe one thing: if you think you are “mature” enough to get married, you are ready to accept full responsibility for yourself, and that includes paying your own way. “Nowh zaht iszh jush common zenz.”