Nature vs. Nurture

There are any number of topics I care about that are urgent for me, and which have a certain urgency for various communities.  I’ve become particularly passionate about politics for instance, and with the primaries spread from January until May, there are and will be plenty of issues to discuss both for my class, and for the benefit of discussion.  For one, my frustration as a resident of Michigan and its treatment by the national Democratic party because of the arrogance, ignorance or ineptitude of the state’s Democratic party.  How one of the most suffering states in the nation in regards to unemployment (and I could go on) that happens to be a swing state with a large number of juicy electoral college votes could have been ignored by the party and two of its candidates makes one wonder why the state should go “blue” in the November election. 

I am also a public school teacher, and increasingly over the years both in my occupation and in my daily life as a consumer, I have noticed a culture of entitlement that is disturbing at best and epidemic at worst. 

Perhaps because of the culture and my habit of overanalyzing everything, I feel threatened as a parent by this culture that seems to be out to get my children.  I’m not stupid; I know the culture of America is about creating little consumers, but there are other cultural concerns I have regarding how best to raise my children.  As mentioned above, I am also a teacher, and my classes have just finished Fahrenheit 451 and Frankenstein, and both texts explore the cultural issues that concern me and parenting, respectively. 

I have mostly settled on exploring bullies.  Dealing with bullies and what makes them are issues with roots in both the culture and parenting.  I am a father of three young children.  Two daughters and a son sandwiched in the middle.  The oldest started kindergarten this year, and on the school bus before winter holidays, an older student expressed disbelief in the man in red with the beard.  This is not quite the bullying I intend to explore, as the aforementioned issue is one that has to be dealt with eventually by any parent whose child experiences life outside the confines of the homestead.  Such a discussion gets into issues of faith and hope and love which are good discussions to have with a child at any age. 

The youngest just turned one, and the only bullying she’s experienced is her own low grunting growl she’s developed when someone removes a toy from her reach or somebody pays too much attention to Mommy at home. 

It’s the boy that I intend to discuss.  Now three and a half, I’m coming to realize he is at a key point in his life.  Not to say that the others aren’t and I’m not worried about them too, but as a former boy myself, there are experiences I had that I don’t want him to have to know as directly as I did.  I have lots of questions, and I don’t know that I will have answers, but I invite you to join the discussion as it progresses.

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One Response to “Nature vs. Nurture”

  1. Richard Coffee Says:

    Raising children is hard. I don’t want to call it work because it isn’t work. It’s life. But it’s hard. And when I was doing it I didn’t always have a clear idea of what was right. Was it right to want my children to be better than I was. After all I wasn’t bad. But I had not been a good athlete, certainly not a good baseball player. I was afraid of batting, afraid of catching a fly ball. Yet I wanted my boys to be stars. Socially, I had friends and never particularly felt picked on although I did have day dreams about being tougher and more macho. At least I didn’t want to be afraid of anything or anybody. But that’s never worked for me. I always have fear – I fear for my children and my grandchildren. I still fear being taken advantage of – did I make the right decision? – did I pay too much for that car?
    Of course, I too didn’t want my children to suffer the same slings and arrows I did as a child. Again, the macho side of me wanted them to pick up a stick (that was always my father’s advice – “don’t come crying to me”).
    The difficult truth is that our children, just like us, must suffer. That’s the only way they’ll learn to overcome.
    Of course, since they are but children we must be there to protect them from the extreme. And that remains the hard part – knowing when to intervene because the situation is extreme.

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