I just had drinks with my ex last night. We ended up talking about life, our kids, their friends…
One of our best (kid) friends with very liberal and “understanding” parents, was an all-league athlete and scholar in high school, and could have been a male model like his dad, but he gained about 75 extra pounds. He now is 24 years old, and after being fired from a retail store (which is really hard to do) started a business promoting raves. That doesn’t apparently make much of an income, and is about as healthy a lifestyle as being a rock musician, and he is now unemployed and living with his parents.
Steve Jobs was put up for adoption at birth, dropped out of college, and was fired from the very company he founded. I think that there is no one on earth that is not impacted by his accomplishments.
My eldest daughter was the valedictorian at a very prestigious high school, has a black belt in karate, speaks a few languages, could pose for the cover of Vogue, and can’t get out of a lease that is killing her at her private Jesuit University of San Diego so her mother or I have to bail her out again at the age of 22?
Jerry West was terribly abused as a child, beaten with a belt buckle and ended up having to purchase and carry a pistol under his bed to keep his father from beating his sister with an axe handle. He was a hall of fame player, and a hall of fame coach in basketball.
Charlie Sheen. Say no more.
My wife survived cancer when she was 14. She is now the Vice President and Director of a corporate travel management entity that is part of a global operation in 37 countries and employs well over 6000 people.
They say that whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. I truly believe that. When talking about my daughters and the possibility that their mom might lose her health insurance, I was struck simultaneously by a “dad’s” protectionism (I need to help out somehow) and my own dad’s reality; you’re 22 years old; get a freeking job and you’ll have your own health insurance.
My ex (being the ever extraordinarily codependent enabling mother) countered with “well things are tougher now.”
Really? Things are tougher than when I grew up with the shadow of the great depression? My father had to drop out of Cal Berkeley when he was 23 to get a job to help support his parents. Things are tougher than when I had to live with people like Johnson, Nixon, Ford, and Carter as presidents? They are tougher than fighting my way to and home from school every day? Tougher than going to sleep fearing that the air raid siren was going to go off any second because Khrushchev stopped pounding his shoes on the podium of the United Nations and grabbed the red button?
I grew up in the days when one had a paper route at the age of 10. I canvassed the neighborhood dropping flyers to get weekend jobs gardening. I had my first real job at a chemical factory after school when I was old enough to drive there. In college I took wedding photographs on weekend days, and worked in the processing plant at night. Things are tougher now?
There are certain things that we can do to, and for our children. Gary Radnich said it well today; perhaps the kindest thing we could ever do for a child is kick them to the curb (lovingly) and make them fend for themselves. I have a dear friend that had to literally do that to his eldest son. He was addicted to several things, couldn’t maintain any semblance of a work life, and came begging to his dad to give him “one last chance.” He said no. He meant it. He literally gave him a sleeping bag and showed him the door.
Several months later, after he had hit his “bottom” or catharsis or whatever you call it, the kid came back cleaned up on his own, and is now the number one salesperson at his dad’s construction company, and the heir apparent to the family business.
Spare the rod, spoil the child? Killing with kindness? You figure it out.