With 20/20 hindsight, it’s possible to look back at what I taught my kids versus what they otherwise learned and to be sad, thoughtful and optimistic all at the same time. I can’t claim I did a great job as a parent, but the kids managed to learn somehow. So I’m not preaching — really!
Before I add my two cents, here is what current popular culture recommends:
1. Parents Magazine: honesty, justice, determination, consideration and love
2. Parents.com: doing the laundry, planting a seedling, wrapping a gift, hammering a nail, writing a letter, preparing a simple meal, navigating, treating a wound, cleaning the bathroom and comparison shopping
3. GoodChoicesGoodLife.org: honesty, education, food/exercise, respect, listening, manners, about apologizing, friends, personal responsibility, finances and plans/goals
4. BrightSide.me: respect (boys and girls are equal), about mistakes, knowledge vs. grades, parents aren’t enemies, standing up for yourself, about pleasing the crowd, asking questions, respecting the environment and learning to say “no”
Yep, the lists go on forever, filled with social platitudes by social and cultural scolds. The HuffingtonPost.com has a list of thirty, and MadeForMums.com lists 59! Of course, I agree with many of them, beginning with the 12 points of the Boy Scout Law. (Can you say “Boy Scout” these days?) Nevertheless, here are two that I definitely think every parent should include in a kid’s upbringing. Call them “the Gift of Life.”
In the first category are history, geography and another language. Make sure your kids understand and appreciate their cultural heritage. My family is Christian and Western European, and we recognize the good and the bad, the weird and the great in our civilization … and in others as well.
Whatever your heritage, embrace it because whether you are from Nigeria or the Netherlands, you can still be — must still be — an American patriot.
The second recommendation I have is to teach your kids self-defense. I didn’t do an especially good job of this. One of my kids initially fled from a 20-gauge shotgun’s blast, and the second resisted attending the sheriff’s evening RAD (Rape Aggression Defense) classes. The first has come around, and the second — well, she now lives in New York City and I fear for her every day. Although she passed the sheriff’s course, she did not “get” the value of awareness until she was threatened by a couple of hoodlums (apparently she was driving a bit cautiously, which angered them).
Take your children to the gun or sporting-goods store when you look at new handguns or buy ammo, or just go to hang out. The earlier you take them, the easier it will be for them to accept your Second Amendment point of view in the face of all the other BS they will encounter.
Self-defense is the one thing that popular magazines and websites ignore, instead going out of their way to promote love and justice, understanding and kindness.
Teach your children that lions are predators, pack hunters, clever killers that attack from the back without warning. Teach your children the open-handed strike and to kick in the groin and to shoot and respect guns as tools as early as possible; you’ll be doing them a giant, lifesaving favor. You’ll give them the gift of life.