Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Morality Obsolete? Egad!

Hello Parenting Enthusiasts,

Once again, I have found something interesting while reading on the internet. Today we take on a short discussion about morality. We know this topic is deserving of more than a single post. I'm simply making a foray into these waters to see what floats to the surface. Check out a recent NY Times article, which summarizes, "If it feels right to me, then it is". In it, columnist David Brooks states that sentiment pretty much sums up the moral philosophy of most young Americans, who have grown up unmoored from any cultural or religious framework for knowing right from wrong. In a new book, Lost in Transition, a group of sociologists documents how people in their late teens and early 20s have come to view moral choices as “just a matter of individual taste,” and seem perplexed when asked to make judgments about behavior that earlier generations would clearly label as wrong.

Cheating on tests? Infidelity? Drunken driving? Brooks continues that in interviews, young people say that decisions about such behavior are “up to the individual.” There is virtually no sense of any overarching value system or obligation to society or to others. “I guess what makes something right is how I feel about it,” is a typical refrain. For this, he says, we can only blame schools, institutions, and families. From blind deference to churches and authority, our society has swung to the other extreme, and now morality is purely “something that emerges in the privacy of your own heart.”

I am especially interested in this subject as my husband and I are on different pages from an organized religion standpoint, therefore our children, as yet, have had no formal introduction to that moral framework. Also, we don't come from a particularly strong cultural background; we're just average middle class Joes originally from parts of northern Europe. Like most people in my area I expect. Moreover, my sister is struggling with the morality question regarding her teenage son. Although in no way a criminal, some of his actions have called his moral compass into question of late, making my sister wonder, 'where did this come from'? We raised you in a certain way, with certain, set values, and where are they now? What is happening? She's fearful she and her husband haven't instilled their morals deeply enough onto their children. Which is ridiculous, as her son is a straight A student and is just doing the teenager thing of exploring his boundaries and beliefs. He's not adrift in moral ambiguity. He knows what he's doing is wrong and chooses to do it for completely different reasons. But I digress. That's a topic for another post.

So how accurate is the author of the book and the columnist who wrote about this phenomenon? Have you yourself witnessed or worked with young Americans seemingly operating in a moral vacuum based on 'if it feels right, it is right' mentality? How serious is this? Should I / we be worried?

I'd love to hear you weigh in.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Strengthen the Parent - Child Bond, Create Memories

Hello Parenting Enthusiasts,

Once again, in my endless search of the web for interesting material, the universe has directed me to a great article I would like to share. Frank Love writes about family, relationships and all other matters of the heart. He posts on the Humorous Speakers Bureau to which I belong on Linked In. His latest, "How to Create Remarkable Moments for Your Children" is one of my favorites.

A few years ago, before my mom died, she gave my sister and me a 4 inch, D-ring binder filled with letters she had written to her mother since she married and moved away from home in 1959. It chronicles her life with my father before kids, her announcement and subsequent pregnancy with my older sister and life with her new family. It was, in short, mind-blowing. I was amazed at the level of detail she included in her everyday doings. Reading about her pregnancy and delivery with me made me feel so connected to her and to the Great Divine in general. Hundreds and hundreds of letters home. All saved, duplicated and assembled for my sister and me to have for our own. A greater gift from my mother simply could not exist. I am even more grateful for this familial archive as, sadly enough, my children were born after my mom died. They may never know her in person, yet they will know her legacy as I share her stories with them as they grow.

Even if you're not into writing, find some way to express yourself to your kids so they'll always have something to remember you by and cherish. Spoken word -- my dad recorded our voices every year for the first 20 years of our lives: art, music, home movies. Do something. It could mean everything someday.

Happy Parenting

Thursday, November 3, 2011

These Are Trying Times

Ever have one of those days where, when all was said and done, you just were relieved everyone survived? That was me yesterday. Actually, it's been me for the last week or so. You see, I am between jobs, and the kids have been home with me during half of the week. I toyed with the idea of keeping them in daycare full time, yet financially that was not feasible. And, I missed my kids. I wanted to be with them again, like I was before I went to work outside the home. I wanted to reconnect with them and enjoy their company. I thought it was going to be like old times again!

Yeah, right. Best laid plans and all that. Turns out, this 'return to paradise' wasn't, for either me or the kids,  because paradise doesn't actually exist. When I complained about my disappointment, my husband was quick to remind me things were never truly idyllic when I was home with the kids. Back then, we had an established routine and enjoyed our time together, true. And yet, I had conveniently forgotten (or blocked!) all the frustrating times I had too. I had dismissed that, despite the effort at getting out and hanging with other adults, staying home with kids is still isolating. Add to this the fact I had just gotten used to not missing my kids so much, and to having regular adult conversations that weren't about kids. That changed up pretty quickly too. I got whiplash. I'm sure the kids did too, which all added up to painful times.

Changing a routine is difficult on all involved. Being a SAHM (stay-at-home-mom) is hard and being a WM (working mom) is hard. It's all hard, yet for different reasons. I got a good taste of this as I tried slipping between the two. I forgot how much kids depend on a routine, myself included. They're flexible, yes, and yet being shipped back and forth from one daily routine to the next has its drawbacks. I forgot how challenging my son can be, pushing all my buttons, one right after the next. And since we all know the kids save up their absolute worst behavior for dear old Mom, M1 was the heat-seeking missile to my giant, Mommy bulls eye. He's lucky to be alive, I tell ya. At one point, just to demonstrate the kind of crazy I had devolved into, I removed ALL the furniture from his room, save the bed, just to see what stunt he would pull next! I found out quickly enough; he resorted to taunting his sister through the air-return vent between their shared wall. Guess THAT nap time is over, for everyone. Lesson learned. Furniture returned.

What I'm trying to say is that these ARE trying times, financially, socially, emotionally, spiritually. The proverbial *%$@ will undoubtedly hit the fan once in a while. And, if you're like me, you're going to go a little crazy and take the proverbial furniture out of your kid's room. That's OK. You'll eventually recover your senses and hopefully no permanent damage will have been done. We still love you.

Today, cut yourself some slack, acknowledge out loud that this party occasionally sucks, and move on down the road. Tomorrow you may have a good laugh about the crazy. Or perhaps not. Whatever the case, take comfort knowing you are not alone; we're all in this together.

If you have a comment about this, or anything else you've read, I'd love to hear from you! Prove to me I'm not in this alone. And, until next time,

Happy Parenting!