The other day at my in-laws, I was on my way to take a slam. As is my custom, I grabbed a book to occupy myself. It was Dr. Seuss’s Cat in the Hat. I sat down. I read thepublication date. 1957. At least I think that was the date. Then I began the book. Two kids are left home alone while their mother is running errands. They’re bored. And then in comes a stranger to entertain them. Granted, he’s an animal, but he’s a grown up animal, anthropomorphic, and a stranger still. These few pages got me to thinking.
My brother and I grew up, many times being left alone at home while our parents worked. Our friends grew up with this experience. This was about the mid 90s to the time we left the house. I don’t think my parents did anything wrong. It was a different time. They’d probably do things differently if they raised us today. I wonder if I would want my kid(s) (only got one now) unsupervised very often. It’s not so much a trust issue as a responsibility issue. Kids aren’t bornresponsible. They have to be taught responsibility. This requires supervision for awhile. Ethics/morals don’t occur naturally; they must be fostered from without until internalized by the children. Parents slowly introduce more and more freedom to their children so that the values instilled from without are allowed to emanate from the children’s own wills. For, eventually, children will be on their own. Why not start practicing their values while still under the guidance of parents?
Not that my brother and I did anything crazy, but there was plenty of opportunity. At my friend’s house (unsupervised) was where I was first introduced to pornography. Much worse could have happened. What if my friend’s older sibling had molested me? What if girls or guys had been there to experiment with? What kind of drug trouble could I have encountered? But I think porn was enough to skew my view of sexuality without proper framing from my parents. They were quite open with me about matters sexual. Dad taught about human sexuality in a graduate setting. We were free to ask them questions. Through no fault of their own, I was already introduced to the subject through pornography. So while I was getting what should have been a good framing of human sexuality, it was already perverted. Instead of two (and only two) mature, committed, freely chosen, and loving individuals expressing their care for one another, I viewed sexuality in an individualistic, selfish, dominating, ignoring of the other’s needs/desires, non-relational, notches in a bedpost fashion. Funny such a view took over 20 years to undo.
And sexuality is only one thing. There are so many things to supervise and guide. Money. Domestic responsibilities. Work ethic. Picking a good partner. Picking and maintaining healthy relationships. Health. Education. The hard thing is trying to avoid being overbearing, too. I am a father. While that involves authority, I don’t want to reduce my son’s relationship with me to one of authority/obeyer. Sarah and I will probably supervise (or have someone else supervise) our kids directly until their teenage years. I’ll have to continue talking with her about this, lol, but I think that’s when I’ll start relinquishing some of my supervision. I’ll be there, but not as constant a check as I was. For how else will the kids grow unless they do a bit of living on their own? I can’t be there to fix all their mistakes. I won’t leave them helpless, but I probably would let them sit in a cell overnight if they jacked a car, flashed helpless teenagers, or vandalized their school. What would you do? How will you parent or are you parenting?