Saturday, September 29, 2012

How To Survive And Raise Your Children In An Insane World

So, does anyone else out there think it's a mad, mad, mad world??? I know for a fact that it is. I've seen the ugliness, the crassness, the selfishness. I've seen first hand hopes dashed, dreams lost, castles fallen. I've seen evil win. I've seen good beaten to the finish line.
BUT...I also know that out there somewhere is the opposite; true beauty, nobility and selflessness. A place where good survives regardless of it's surroundings. Where purity and refreshing honesty, though hopelessly outnumbered and out of sync with their surroundings, still shine through like a candle in the darkness. Archaic terms, I know; survivors from another time, another place, long ago when things were simpler, people were more honest, goals more clear. When right and wrong were not so close together; the gray had not yet taken over and turned reality upside down.
Those of you who long for those days know what I'm talking about. Regardless of your age, whether old or young, you realize your ideals, your hopes, even your belief in your fellow man are hopelessly outdated and unrealistic according to those around you. You don't live in the real world, they say. Andy Griffith's Mayberry is long gone; Father Knows Best is a ridiculous thought, and Gilligan's Island was really just a giant orgy, no matter what you think the survivors did. And Miss Kitty on Gunsmoke...well, we won't even go there.
So what do you do, my antiquated friend of 20, 40 or 80?? Do you learn to "fit in"?? Do you change your modus operandi?? Do you give in to cynicism and lose faith in everything you hold dear?? No!!! You don't.
But how do you hang on to yourself in this situation? Life is soooo busy, so hurried. There isn't time, there are bills to pay, life is going by so very, very fast. But take heed; before you know it, it will be over, my friend. Our time here is a blink of any eye. As hard as it may seem, priorities must be named and stood by. How does that song go..."you've got to stand for something or you'll fall for anything..". It's true.
Let me tell you how I survive. Maybe it will work for you, maybe it won't. That's something you'll have to decide for yourself. First of all, I have children. Bunches of children. Some grown, some still small. How did I raise believers in good in this evil world??? How will they survive in a dog eat dog society? Here's my answer. They'll survive. They'll survive with grace, with light from within, with clear eyes and pure intentions. They'll get knocked down, disappointed, discouraged...who doesn't? And, of course, in a world of emos and pessimism, they'll stick out like a sore thumb. So what??? Is that such a bad thing, to be different in a world of tattoos, piercings, sex, drugs, alcohol, name it??
Now I'm not saying you have to do the "Amish" thing. That's great, fine and dandy for the Amish; it's worked for them for a long time now. But it would never fly around my house. I'm not saying you have to lock them in a room and force them to watch "The Sound of Music" 10,000 times. (Although if you've never seen it, it's a great place to start. Fix some popcorn and enjoy!)
It comes down to this. It's all about choices. You can't take children's choices away from them and make them all for them. You'll end up with weak minded followers waiting for someone to tell them what to do, and folks, it's probably not always going to be you. You want strong-minded children that aren't afraid to stand up for the decent and the good in the world, regardless of how unpopular it may be.
The key to all this is SECURITY. Kids have to feel secure. The more security and the more self-esteem children have, the less likely they are to follow the crowd, the better they will feel about themselves, and the less likely they are to try to define themselves by seeking approval of their peers.
Some people go to extremes in the wrong direction, hoping to protect their children from that big, scary world. To an extent, yes, we have to. If we love them, we will be a buffer zone until such a time as they are mature enough to handle themselves. Unfortunately, these frightened folks think the way to accomplish all this is to wrap their kids up in cellophane, build a moat and a drawbridge, get a few Rottweilers to guard things, and separate them from the world outside. All you get from that particular sequence of events are maladjusted children who need someone to tell them what to do and how to do it for the rest of their lives. Once they're turned loose out in the big ole' world, and the scary newness wears off, you tend to have kids even wilder than the world you were protecting them from, nine times out of ten! I've seen it more times than I can count. You took away their choices, you took away their conflicts, you took away their chances to learn how to stand their ground and deal with what's around them firsthand. It's a growing thing, and they grew up without learning those very important lessons. Now you chunk them out there and expect them to learn to swim with sharks with no swimming lessons or life preservers. Good going.
Now I'm not harping on the home schooling crowd. Not at all! Home schooling can be great if, and that's a big IF, it is done correctly. If it is not used as an escape from the world. If you haven't dug a moat. Unfortunately, many people use it for exactly that, with an agenda of their own that would shock some more moderate, responsible home-schooling parents.
Teach your children how to make choices. Teach them logical reasoning processes, clear thinking, kindness and honesty. Let them know there is ugliness out there, and they are going to have to deal with it each and every day, and make more and more choices as they get older. Don't send them out to battle unprepared. Your children aren't cannon fodder.

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