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How Important Is Parenting?

I’ll admit that my experience in parenting is lame.  My 15-year-old niece spent a year in our home.  Our appreciation for parents skyrocketed within a week.

That said, I think we have significant challenges in raising a generation of people in our society that will carry on the American model of self-sufficiency, determination, competitiveness and aggressive success that created a nation and fuels the greatest society in the world.

I believe, however, that the gradual attempts of the past 100 years on the part of rich intellectual liberals to mold a less aggressive (read “pacified”) society is already crippling our ability to succeed.  A combination of Eugenics, Social Engineering, the Liberal Capture of Education, the General Rebellion on college campuses in the 60’s, “Give Peace A Chance”, a roller coaster of emotional decision making, entitling programs like Social Security beyond it’s original intent, etc… I could go on for hours… has already led to a mindset that is soft.  It’s almost like Darwin’s theory being played out in reverse, except it will prove out through gradual decline and demise of our society.

When I grew up, I was a first class wimp.  I refused to fight because I had already been co-opted by my parents (lovingly) liberal philosophy and the education system of the late 60’s and early 70’s pushing busing and tolerance and “no fighting” rules… I was an extremely compliant child and seldom wavered into the world of fighting or any aggressive behavior.  And besides, you could get hurt.

I wish my childhood experience could have been a little different, but it’s done.  And despite my challenges, competitiveness in sports and other activities was still promoted and there was always a sense of winners, losers, and levels of accomplishment and I was successful at focusing on the academic drivers.  What I’m concerned about is the fact that a significant percentage of the population of children are now more passive, compliant and less likely to be aggressive, competitive, and appropriately prepared to put their best effort into what they do, as well as to be able to protect themselves and their families from the evils in the world.

In today’s Wall Street Journal, Tony Woodlief reviews a book titled “A Nation of Wimps” [1], by Hara Estroff Marano.  This book discusses the current practices of parents and educators and the impact on the current generation of children being raised.   I have not read the book, but recommend the review [2] to you, and let you decide on reading the book.  Woodlief like what Marano has written for the most part, but does not oversell the book either:

Ms. Marano is fond of referring to “how things used to be,” but she seems to idealize a sliver of American parenting history, one that started shortly after Gloria Steinem declared stay-at-home mothers valueless and ended before millions of women decided that Ms. Steinem and her crowd were saps. In the how-things-used-to-be category, it is helpful for us to remember that Teddy Roosevelt, the quintessential American anti-wimp — he once killed a mountain lion with a knife — grew up enjoying a close relationship with his parents, including extended family vacations (no summer camp!), home schooling (call the teachers’ union!) and close contact even after he left for college (cut the cord, Mrs. Roosevelt!). TR’s own children suffered similar “overparenting,” yet they went on to be war heroes and successful citizens. American history teems with similar examples.

If nothing else, a book like this can certainly help us maintain a national dialog on the topic of child development and the elements required for a society of successful adults to be created… the current crop of children will be running the show while I’m in retirement… I’d like them to be successful at maintaining a strong economy and a secure society for their own sakes as well as mine.