How Much Is Too Much? How Little Is Too Little?

Over at Dadshouse, there has been much discussion on how much one should be involved in their teenager’s life. Where do they learn about sex and relationships? Are they learning the right things? Are they learning about how sex relates to relationships? Do they know they can come to you to discuss virtually anything? Do they know you are interested in them and care about their well being, along with the things they are interested in? All of these things are very valuable. There is no way that it is bad to make sure these things are in order. But are they necessary? How many fathers have really been involved in their children’s lives to this degree? How many mothers? Just consider the people you know who are exceptional people. People you admire with strong characters. Did they have this level of support, encouragement and involvement from their parents?

At our house, we were very involved in our children’s lives and activities (I mean ~ we homeschooled for six years! I’d say that’s pretty involved!) and in another house down the street, there was virtually no parenting going on. On any given day, you could enter that house and there would be a flurry of children getting ready for school. All the way down to the three-year-old, they were just getting their own breakfast and doing what they needed to do to get out the door. Mom was in a drunken stupor in bed. In my house, I was up and making a hot breakfast for my kids. We had a structured day and things went pretty smoothly. I talked to my kids. I was interested in what they had to say and they knew they could talk to me about anything. In the other house, the kids only had one another to talk to. And their friends. And their friends’ parents.

During this time period, our family was tending to our new litter of miniature pinscher pups. Tiny, fragile, little short-haired things. It was September in Southern California and it gets damn cold at night. So I set up a pen in the garage with a space heater blowing on them. I’m not shitting you! When they were weaning, I would heat up their food and mush it up. I kept their papers clean and let them out in the yard on nice days and just nurtured the hell out of them. Down the street ~ at the other house ~ they also had pups born at the same time. Rottweiler pups. Looked just like my pups, only bigger! Mom had been tossed in jail for public drunkenness and child endangerment and the children had been farmed out to relatives. I called the local whatever… pet place … so they could come rescue the mama rottie and her pups. Those pups and their mama had been in the back yard with no one tending to them for a week. AND THEY WERE FINE! And guess what… All of those kids… THEY ARE FINE!

What the hell? I worked so hard to take care of kids and pups and they just turn out as fine as the ones who were supposedly neglected? Ha! As parents, we are all fuck-ups, at best. We can always find "a family down the street" to compare ourselves to, but really we are all just trying to make it through the day.

Seriously, though ~ in the home where I grew up, my mother was at home with us until I was in junior high school. Dad was away a lot, because he was an Air Force Pilot. In fact, I barely remember much about him when I was younger. When I was about twelve years old, Dad retired. I started spending some time with him… talking to him and learning about him and the stuff he knows. I did NOT talk to him about me. I talked to him about him. I soaked up information like it was precious jewels. I did not talk to my parents about sex or relationships or anything like that. They told me when to be home. They provided for me and gave me room to grow. (In all fairness, though ~ I will say that my mom provided me with one important message about relationships when I was in sixth grade. She saw a boy slug me in the arm when she was picking me up. She said, “Oh, he’s doing that because he likes you!” Made NO sense to me at all!)

I can say with complete confidence that I have great parents who did a great job. They weren’t perfect and part of growing up includes accepting the fact that your parents are not perfect. They are human, just like you. (I know I just said that, but I still believe my mother is the most beautiful woman in the world and my father is the smartest man in the world.)

The real point is that there are so many ways to love your children. But if you do it with all your heart, they’ll know it. And that will matter.

Here's my Dad (far right) ~ Ya gotta click it and read the caption. And I kept Miss Kirtland on the page as eye candy for all you boyz and girlz who love the hotties!