It’s Just Politics

Political candidates will too soon be in full mudsling mode, trying to make themselves look better by making their opponents look worse. Everybody ends up looking pretty muddy. But if you use the elections as a learning opportunity for your teen, all will not be lost.

Use Political Campaign as Teaching Tool

It really has very little to do with whether you’re a Republican or Democrat and everything to do with how to treat other people. We think that parents can teach their teenagers a lot about what not to do and how not to act by observing the behavior of political candidates. We think political behavior has become disgusting and just plain tiresome. 

If You Can’t Stand the Heat …

Sure, we know the refrain: “It’s just politics … That’s the way the game is played.” And that’s exactly why it’s the perfect teaching tool. It never changes. You can pretty much depend on any political campaign to gradually depart from substantive issues and go for the jugular—to attack, embarrass, humiliate, and tear down.

Can you imagine what grade your teen would get on an essay if the assignment was to discuss why education is so important—and all he did was attack the teacher, downgrade the school, curse the establishment and put down his classmates? Or if the assignment was to write a critical essay on Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn, and your daughter delved into Twain’s private life, castigated him for his religious beliefs and made fun of his hair! They’d both flunk. 

All Politics Is … Personal

Ridiculous, huh? That’s what politicking has become … personal attacks, counter-attacks, slinging sludge, drudging up one’s past, taking comments and events out of context and skillfully crafting half-truths. Somewhere along the way, the profession of politics has become less honorable and more self-serving. With an historically low approval ratings, how do members of Congress look into the cameras (or the mirror) with a straight face?

We Ought To Expect Better

Mom and Dad, you can certainly use our never-ending political season to point out to your teenager that this is not how they should conduct themselves to get ahead in school, at work, or in life. Men and women running for office ought to be those who aspire to represent greater ideals of human interaction and humanity itself. They should be intelligent, knowledgeable, honorable and truthful. They should also be humble, thoughtful, respectful and kind. We don’t typically associate those latter modifiers with political candidates.

Yet, we should expect those attributes of ourselves and our children. As parents, we should model the very best human behavior possible. Our efforts will win much more than a political contest. They will leave impressions for a lifetime.

 

By dads2dads

This One Is Really for Dad

OK, we acknowledge that many of our posts are targeted to both moms and dads. Sometimes, it’s difficult to speak to dads only. Parenting is a team effort, and moms are just as vital to the care and welfare of their offspring. After all, junior was certainly a team effort. It is our hope and wish that all teenagers are surrounded by the love of an involved mother and father.

However, today’s post truly is aimed at dads.

Dad, you need a pal. You may already have golf pals. You may already enjoy a night out with the guys. Perhaps you have an after-work pause for refreshment with a few chosen friends. That’s all good. However, you need a close friend or two or three with whom you can sit and talk about the ups and downs of being a father.

Dads share the same stories

We discovered each other because we had children the same ages—Bill’s two boys and Tom’s two girls. At first we just chatted about the comical perplexities of parenthood. It wasn’t too long until we were sharing stories of home life that spanned the spectrum—from frustration and annoyance to anger and helplessness, and of course, joy. In sharing our stories, it dawned on us that we were telling many of the same stories. We were experiencing the same feelings, doubts, anxieties—and, yes, even many of the same self-serving expectations of our kids.

Tom found out that he wasn’t the only dad who felt that teenagers ought to be darned grateful for the roof over their heads. Bill heard from Tom what he always thought was his own shortcoming as a father—that he was sometimes invisible to his kids in his own house.

The more we talked, the more we wanted to talk.

Bull sessions as therapy

Those brief chats became lunch sessions. For both of us, those meetings sitting in squeaky chairs over gyro salads or grazing through Chinese buffets became therapy. After commiserating and comforting, each other, we felt reassured that we weren’t completely miscast as dads. We had more in common than we ever would have imagined or admitted. Our growing friendship enabled us to be honest and open about our thoughts and feelings.

Dad, you are not alone

So, dad, we recommend that you find a pal or recruit a group of dads in your neighborhood or social circle. Suggest a good old-fashioned bull session. We warn you. It will not be easy. Dads don’t get together to talk, especially about relationships. Moms have no trouble interacting with other moms. They have many avenues. We have few. Start talking about relationships and dads get lockjaw. It will take a while for everyone to open up. But you’ll be glad you did. No matter what your problem or concern as a dad, you’ll discover you are not alone. That will be incredibly reaffirming.

By dads2dads