Hint: Quantity of time matters too

One can only marvel at how President Obama and his political compatriots’  answer to every “problem” starts and ends with more government.  A Family Security Matters piece on April 10, 2013 (here) offers a new proposal for funding national public preschool.  He aims large and tries to kill two birds with one stone – to better prepare children for the demands of life in the global economy and alleviate the burden of child-care expenses for parents.   Decades ago, the feminists came up with some guilt-relief mantra to assuage working mothers’ anxieties and guilt about being away from their children so many hours.  They touted, “it’s the quality of time you spend with your kids, not the quantity of time”, meaning if you only saw your child a couple hours a day and you made those hours “quality time”,  all was well with your parenting.  We now have a nation of ill-mannered children, lacking manners, social skills, engaged in an ever widening array of anti-social behavior and the left’s answer is always more government programs.  “Bullying” is a national crisis – can you believe how absurd that is?  Let’s roll up our pants and wade through the mire of  trite excuses and rambling rationalizations and face the truth – too many parents abdicated their responsibility to train their own children!

Admittedly, I was an anachronism to my generation, because I yearned to be a homemaker as my “career” and my husband thought our kids would fare better with me at home, because he was gone a lot.  So, without government advisers, my plan was I spent time teaching them many things, taking them to the library on a regular basis, reading to them daily, teaching them to do chores, crafts, manners, play well with others – along with keeping them clean, fed and nursing all their bumps and scrapes and listening to them.  Never once did I long for the government to “provide” or “assist” me in caring for my children, because that job belonged to my husband and me.  Here’s a truth that may not be PC, but it’s the truth – your children are your responsibility.  Instead of  looking to the federal  government to care for your children – you should do that.

We’ve been spoon-fed this child-rearing slop, disguised as “expert” advice from yahoos in academia about how much children need to learn “social skills” in a school environment and how important it is to start kids early on all these classes and limitless array of activities to better prepare children for school.  Often, these pint-sized future “global citizens” from middle class America get jostled along with busier social calendars than most adults – dance class, sports, etc., etc.  However, in lower income families, often single-parent homes – these kids get shuffled around with whoever can keep them.  These mostly single moms lead lives where the overarching theme can be summed up as “chaotic” and one step away from the next “crisis”.  These are children in homes bereft of financial security, lacking strong family bonds, littered with an array of boyfriends and varying home living arrangements, food insecurity and often many other problems.  The political right fumes about “welfare moms”, failing to realize that for every one of these children there is some man who failed to be a responsible father.  These women often do not have the means to provide the basics, they often lack transportation, so even if they find a job, getting there can be problematic. Way too often they opt for less than reliable childcare options, because  paying for a day care is out of their price range.   No government reform will resolve this problem.  The solution is men need to quit finding excuses and step up to the plate and start mentoring young boys on how to become responsible men.    Instead of some bureaucratic federal expansion of Pre-k, what is needed are communities developing some innovative  programs where people come together to help struggling families gain some stability and get on the path to taking charge of their own destiny, rather then spinning in endless circles, getting ever more firmly tangled in federal governmental red tape.

Sure, even I fell for the “social skills” line to a certain extent, because we all want our children to be productive, happy members of the “human race” (not the same as  a “global citizen” – I assure you).  We want our kids to learn to get along with other people and so we fall prey to these “experts” advising us on child-rearing, when we’d really be better off to rely on our family and friends.    And of course, we want our children to learn and be successful students.

Once again, I’ll opt for home remedies to solve this problem.  What we need are more parents spending more time training their own children during the pre-kindergarten years. Here’s my libertybelle recipe for teaching and training young children (disclaimer:  I’m not an “expert”, just a mom who stayed at home with my four children and moved them frequently)  Oh, and my plan doesn’t cost taxpayers anything;-)

    1. Be a good example for your child – be the leader of your family.
    2. Put your child’s best interests before your own wants.
    3. Start instilling values in your child at an early age – teaching children right from wrong is your responsibility.
    4. Teach you child manners and to respect others.
    5. Stop yelling so much and start talking with and listening to your child
    6. Smile at and laugh with your child – developing a sense of humor is important
    7. Read to your child.
    8. Teach your child as many skills as you can and teach your child to approach life as a problem-solver (crucial to learning self-sufficiency).
    9. Give your child chores to do (learning to be part of a team).
    10. Less TV and more time spent playing outside.

And one last thing, that I’ve noticed is sorely lacking with many young parents – set up a daily routine and stick to it.  Children need security and setting up a normal daily routine – meals at the table, set nap time and bed time, and having a structure to their lives makes children feel secure.   Way too often I have seen children out in stores late at night or parents dragging small children around non-stop or homes where there appears to be no structure whatsoever.  Years ago a young mother asked me how to get her two young boys to eat a meal sitting down at a table and for a moment, I was stunned.  Children thrive in a structured environment and we all function better if we set up a routine and follow it.   My children moved from the high chair to the booster seat to the kitchen chair, with a set meal routine – and I taught them how to set the table for meals, so I asked her how they ate their meals now.  She told me they climbed all over the kitchen bar, crawled around the floor and ran around the house with their food.  The solution is don’t scream, yell or threaten to beat kids – set up a daily routine, set a good example and stick with it.

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