Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Parenting 101

I was fortunate enough to have been reared in a strong, two-parent family structure.  Although my parents were “sansei” (third generation, Japanese-Americans), they retained much of the traditional Japanese culture and instilled in us the importance of honor, dignity, pride, and family.  When we had trouble understanding these concepts, they used various learning tools to help us comprehend.  For example, my father always taught us to work together and not fight, for there will be times when family is all we have to rely on.  On one occasion, my brother and I got into a fight, obviously not understanding the full meaning of family.  My dad proceeded to take us outside and creatively used a 2x4 to illustrate his point.  My brother and I quickly grasped the concept and never fought again….well, at least not in front of my dad.

I believe being a parent is the most important job there is in our society.  It is so important my wife does it on a full-time basis, without the distractions and time-constraints of a professional career.  Like our parents before us, we believe having a parent at home is best for our children and worth the sacrifices.  We don’t have the biggest house, nicest cars, coolest electronics, etc., but I think we have a couple of good kids, which is priceless in comparison.

So by now, you are probably asking yourself, “Self, where is this blog headed?”  Well, let me answer that question with a question.  If being a parent is so important, why don’t Americans spend more time and effort being better parents?  Children need more than food, water, clothing, and shelter.  They need love, support, guidance, morals, and values.  Too many people bring children into this world without appreciating and accepting the responsibilities associated with being a parent.  I have a number of troubling examples to share with you.

Social Services Exhibit A:
Growing up, boys played baseball, football, or basketball.  We shot tin cans with sling-shots, built ramps with plywood and jumped them with our bikes, cut honey bees in half with scissors, went camping with the Boy Scouts, torched cockroaches with hairspray and matches, played mandatory tackle football with our eldest brother in the yard, and threw rotten mangoes at Da Bus........but, we DID NOT wear women’s shoes.
Social Services Exhibit B:
Our mom drove us to baseball practice, spanked us when we were bad, comforted us when we were down, and fed us dry and overcooked chicken thighs for dinner.  But, she NEVER put lipstick on me or my three brothers….or my sister for that matter.

Social Services Exhibit C:
This boy is playing with a pink duck and his favorite backpack is rainbow colored…and worst of all, his mother thinks it’s okay!  We have a pizza place here called Gay Nineties Pizza, located in a historic building in beautiful downtown Pleasanton…never been there.  I think it’s okay to be mahoo (macho) or bakla (brilliant), but I’ve taught my kids to go in through the “In” door and not the “Out” door.

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