Wednesday, June 25, 2014

If You Want your Kids to Be Normal, Do What Everyone Else is Dong

I'm back! I have not published a word on this blog in almost three months. New job and all. So today I have to rant loudly enough to make up for the silence (it's in the blogger code).

As a father of three, I am faced with new challenges daily. My kids often desire the things that are not so good for them. They want to eat lots of junk food and not so much vegetables. They want to watch lots of TV, but not get exercise. They want to wear the clothes and watch the movies and do the things they see their friends doing. They want to be normal.

But I'm not too big on normal, especially normal kids. I am not happy with what I see normal kids do. Normal kids witness acts of violence*, or are victims of abuse. Normal kids are greedy and self-centered. A lot of normal kids are overweight and unhealthy. They usually start drinking alcohol and having sex in high school (or sooner). Normal kids don't put a lot of thought into serving others Normal kids don't aspire to follow Jesus. They usually loose what little faith they had when they get to college. And normal kids grow up to be normal adults, well adjusted chasers of the American dream. Normal kids do not grow up to be world-changers.

So think about it for a minute. If you want to see your kids rise above the materialism and narcissism of our times, then this advice may not be for you. But if you want them to be normal here are a few things you should try.

Watch more TV. All the experts agree that this is an unhealthy trend, that kids need to play outside or read or otherwise engage their minds. Add that to the fact that a lot of TV programming reinforces beliefs an values that you probably disagree with. But most kids watch a LOT of TV. A survey last year in TIME reports that kids are watching more TV than ever, an average of 35 hours a week. That's almost a full-time job of watching TV, and that doesn't include time spent with other electronic devices like computers and tablets. Are your kids measuring up? If you want to be normal, take away their excess books and don't let them go outside. By all means, don't encourage them to get involved in sports or hobbies. Make sure they don't fall behind all the shows their friends watch. Set them down in front of that glorious rectangle and watch their brain cells atrophy.

Spend more time apart. Most kids don't get to see a lot of their parents. Why should yours be any different?  Parents spend an average of eight hours a week with their kids, just over an hour a day. Many admit that much of this time is often spent in front of the TV as well. So if you want your kids to turn out normal, arrange your lives so you get as little of that awkward parent-child interaction as possible. First, get a job where you have to work a lot. If you don't get at least 50 hours a week at work, then get a second job or a time-consuming hobby that does not involve your family. Waste lots of time commuting by living as far out in the suburbs as possible. Then fill your family's remaining time with busy things like sports, church activities, music lessons, civic groups, PTA, etc.. Along with a vigorous diet of TV watching and smartphone use, you will soon forget what your children's faces even look like. And that is actually one of the keys to helping them be normal.

Give them more stuff. It almost goes without saying; if you aren't going to be around for your kids, you need to earn their love buy buying them a multitude of things. It may be lots of small things. This is especially true for the young ones. Buy them a new gift any time you take them to the store. As they grow older, they will need bigger toys: Xboxes, dirt bikes, trampolines, ipads, the latest clothes. Don't worry if you actually have the money for this. Go into debt a little for your kids' amusement. They're worth it. And even when the toy breaks or lies abandoned in the yard, even when they ask for something else, with no recollection of the last thing you got them, you will know that you have helped them be more normal. Now they aren't the only kid at their school who doesn't have one. Pity that kid.

Don't pray with your kids. Grace at dinnertime is fine, but don't get all freaky religious with your kids. Don't let them see you pour your heart out to God. Never read the Bible with them or have discussions about God. That's what the children's program at church is for. By all means, don't open up your life, your struggles, your thoughts, your aspirations. Never admit you don't know the answer to something. Just make something up and change the topic as soon as possible. Keep everything surface level. Anything more than that is just weird. And those tender young minds just take things so literally. So if they hear some of that stuff Jesus said without the proper explanations they might do something crazy like give away their possessions, go out of their way to help people, or (God forbid) talk to someone about their faith. And those things are just not normal.

* I strive to be factual, even in my sarcasm, so feel free to follow the links embedded in the text for references to my stats and more info about these important issues.

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