Our Children Our Future: Parenting in Modern Society

Our Children Our Future: Parenting in Modern Society

 

Kids living at home

It’s the age of expectation. Children today are being groomed to live at home and for us to continue to take care of them well into their adult lives. The concept of children living at home is not original but only used to apply to farming families to take care of the farm. The reason that this trend is growing is simple. We are allowing it to happen. 

Internet, Reality TV, Video Games

2014 is over the horizon and it’s the information age. The Internet, Reality TV and Video Games dictate the actions of our youth today. Information is instantaneous as is our human need for gratification. ‘Stopping and smelling the roses’ is an archaic cliché that is begging for rediscovery. We want results just as fast as we get them online and I’m afraid that this is victimizing today’s youth. I place the blame on our decreased involvement with our children.  We as a society are reactive to today’s youth instead of proactive. Commonsense is foreign to our youth and unless we step up, matters will only get worse.

Chipping our children

Specifically, I place blame on the parents who don’t take the time to monitor what their children are doing.  We put leashes on our children instead of holding their hands. We give them cell phones as an electronic nanny instead of going with them or checking on them in person. We are even entertaining the thought of inserting subcutaneous chips in them at birth. There was a quote from a famous musician that I always thought was clever, “I take my kid hunting so I don’t have to hunt for my kid.” Setting aside animal rights and gun control, the point is ‘going with his kid’.

Asking a girl out

A recent commercial about using the internet where the young boy had to give a speech and later how to ask a girl out for a date is probably the best example of how our youth are being parented by technology. The message was that all he had to do was browse his problems online and they were instantly resolved. In reality these issues were best answered by his school teacher and his parents.

Consequences and limitations

Let’s take it a step further and talk about consequences and setting limitations. There are no consequences or limitations being taught to our children. Sons are not being made to go get a job and daughters are getting pregnant to force their parents’ hand. Talk with your children about what will happen if they have a baby. It’s not a new puppy! Talk to a friend who recently had a baby and ask to have your daughter stay over for a week. Let your daughter take care of the baby under the supervision of your friend. There are services that you can subscribe to and rent a simulated baby. Show your daughter what it will be like to raise a child. Point out to her that was only a week and ask them how they will deal with 18 years of raising a child?

Working at a young age

Explain to your children that they need to start looking for a job when they are 16. Part-time work never hurt anybody. Make them pay for the gas that they are burning for that new driver’s license they so desperately wanted. Explain to them that they need to start thinking about college and a vocation. Tell them to pick three vocations that they want to pursue and sit down and talk to them about each one and what they would like to do as a career. Help them with their tuition so that they can get a leg up. Reassure them and let them know that you have their back so that they won’t have to bear the brunt of tuition costs alone. It wasn’t their choice to be brought into this world. Help them by giving them the tools to survive.

Scholarships and Grants

Start talking to your kids about college. Today’s resources are geared to help your child get into college. A high school diploma or GED is nothing. It just says that you can read and write. An Associate’s degree is today’s new high school diploma. You need at minimum a Bachelor’s degree just to keep up with the curve. Graduate school is the only means of leading the pack. Explain to your child that a Master’s degree should be the minimum goal and to start applying for grants and scholarships now.

Disobedience and Rebellion

So we have talked about the ground work. What about the child who just flat refuses to work or go to school or gets pregnant?  I have to take a Mulligan on this one for the simple reason that you are their parents. I can’t tell you how to raise your child. There are too many variables to consider and it will take a novel size how-to in order to answer all of the questions. All I can do is to tell you what I did and that isn’t necessarily what will work for you. Each situation is unique and has to be addressed according to your individual circumstances.

Strictly speaking telling anyone how to raise their child is opening a can of worms that I am simply not prepared to do.  I have struggled with an editorial or how-to article for a while now and the outcome is always the same. I just don’t do it.

 

Resources for a rebellious child

A great place to start to help find a solution is for you to check with your local or state government agencies. There are usually resources available to you for your particular situation. Also don’t forget to check with your church. They usually have good ideas on what you can do about your situation. Other online resources include Focus on the Family, Parenting.com and for books on the subject visit Amazon.com or Halfbooks.com.

The Constitutionality of Obamacare

The Constitutionality of Obamacare

 

The Preamble of the U.S. Constitution

“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

Is the Preamble law?

When all of the dust settles and you finally just read the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution, you suddenly realize that “We the People” are the first three words that you will see.  It does not say, “We the Government”. This has a simple meaning. The government works for us, the People.  Through all of the Constitutional amendments and all of the repeals and the entire legalese over the ages, one paragraph that should be considered just as much a law as the rest of the U.S. Constitution has never been altered and is always overlooked, The Preamble. This foundational meaning of everything else that follows in the U.S. Constitution is the core reasoning behind the entire document.  Let’s break it down shall we? 

“In order to form a more perfect Union…” To establish, mold, and to grow a body of one people who are all equal in the sight of God and of man.

“…establish Justice…”  Solidify fairness and right doing to all of the people.

“…insure domestic Tranquility…”  Guarantee happiness and contentment for all of the people both in security and economic stability.

“…provide for the common defence…”  Repel all tyranny, invasion of a foreign powers and civil unrest.

“…promote the general Welfare…” encourage to all of the people, good health and well being. Welfare is not a social way of life. It is a privilege that we as equal members of this great union establish for ourselves, not to be a provision of government that imposes what it thinks that we want or need.

“…secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity…”  Holds close the gifts of freedom. Freedom to choose what we think is the right course or action to take that will benefit ourselves and our future lineage.

“…do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”  Declare and create this body of laws of the people, by the people and for the people of the United States of America.

Supreme Court Ruling on Obamacare

The constitutionality of Obamacare has been questioned and ruled over by the Supreme Court. It’s now the law of the land. Unfortunately the law was poorly written and the Supreme Court does not rewrite laws it just decides whether they are constitutional. Congress writes and revises the laws. We appointed them to represent our best interests. Unfortunately they sometimes get it wrong. In the case of Obamacare or the Affordable Care Act  of 2010, “the road to hell is paved with good intentions.”

Health Care Reform and the Clinton Administration

The Affordable Care Act was forced down the American people’s throats with promises of having their cake and eating it too. A metaphor that we all know is an illusion. Though the Democratic Party may have had good intentions the real crux of the matter is that the Affordable Care Act was a political ambition of the Clinton administration, orchestrated by Hillary Clinton

The passage of healthcare reform failed during the Clinton administration and a Republican was elected. Let’s fast track ahead to 2008 where once again, the Democratic Party is at the helm. Hillary Clinton was brought in as Secretary of State to bring aboard her votes for the Obama administration. The primary concession was the Affordable Care Act.  Had Hillary Clinton not been brought aboard the Obama administration, would the Affordable Care Act be law today? I cry a resounding NO!

Is Obamacare Constitutional?

Setting aside conjecture and opinion let’s get back on point. Is the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare constitutional?  Based on the Supreme Court passage of the law it is. However, the law was passed on the basis that it is an imposed tax for not obtaining healthcare and not a penalty; noting that after finally being able to log into healthcare.gov it was referred to as a “fee”. Based on the Preamble of the U.S. Constitution it does not meet any of the criteria that was intended by the Founding Fathers. Unfortunately, the Preamble is just an intention and defining purpose to the U.S. Constitution and has not been summarily used by the Supreme Court as law.

No Taxation without Representation

It can be argued and successfully debated that the amendments to the U.S. Constitution allow for the Affordable Care Act; that our Congressional Representatives are our voice and that argument would be correct. Congress “represents” the foundational definition of the U.S. Constitution on our behalf. They do not decide what’s best for us but they speak on our behalf as a constituency or “union”. By and large the Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional based on the intentions of what the U.S. Constitution represents. A citizen of the United States that is required to pay a tax, fee or penalty for a service that they do not want is a direct violation of the very essence of the U.S. Constitution.

Fishing Will Keep You Sane!

Fishing will Keep you Sane!

 

As time goes by, I have found that eventually you complete the ‘honey do’ list and are left with watching the sun dial.  I have over the last hand full of years rediscovered a forgotten passion of mine and that is fishing at the lake.  I used to go catfishing at night for about 10 years but lost interest in staying up so late. So I decided to start bass fishing again. Growing up as a child in the country before the days of internet and cable TV, there really wasn’t a whole lot to do. But we did have a local pond that we fished for bass and bluegill. 

I started out by using Google Earth to map out the local lake. Not having a boat meant hoofing it so I wanted to maximize my efforts.  I found the typical spots that everyone else went to but soon found that they were usually occupied by “Donny Baker” who was just there to argue with his significant other.  “Well how many worms to do you want then Wayne?!?” So I went scouting around the banks and abandoned roads and soon was able to map out a few remote locations.

There’s actually a lot to consider when fishing at the lake that doesn’t end with simply mapping out your fishing holes. There are quite a few variables that you have to factor into the equation. Season, temperature, weather, and winds are the first factors that I research throughout the week prior to my fishing excursions.

Here in the Midwest winter can be rough unless you make do with what you can catch.  Crappie is usually good fishing all year long and I have found that you can catch catfish fishing off the bottom.  The fish run deeper to regulate their temperature.  Sitting on the bank with a partially frozen lake next to a fire is relaxing to say the least. I really enjoy listening to the ice patches creak and pop under the warm sunlight.  You only have about 4-5 hours in the dead of winter to enjoy so make the most of it. Have your plans made the day before.  This is also a good time of the year to scout new fishing holes since fishing activity is at a slow point in the year and foliage is all gone.

Spring is my favorite time of the year! Let there be life! Typically once the water begins to warm up the fish are more active.  I usually throw on the waders and hit the banks! Crappie, bass, and catfish are plentiful. I typically use crank bait such as inline spinners as a personal favorite. Sizes may vary but I favor the ¼ oz. weight.  Color may vary depending on water clarity. I typically use white, black or green with a silver willow blade. I also like the Colorado blade for its slower motion and more pronounced vibration in the water. I have found that inline spinners offer more species variety and believe it or not I’ve caught more channel cat on spinners than I ever did with blood bait. An old fisherman told me that, “when ‘Mr. Whiskers’ makes it up in his mind to hit something he is going to hit it no matter what it is.”  Just remember to pack the needle noses pliers.  Those prehistoric monsters love to mangle your lures! Bass Pro Shops carry a nice selection of inline spinners and I am always on the lookout for Yakima spinners with the Colorado blades. I usually just end up ordering them direct from the company’s website.

Summer can be rough, especially in the Midwest where high temps and humidity are agonizing. I always make sure I pack plenty of water and dried granola bars in my back pack. With the high heat, the fish once again go deep to regulate their temperature. They will come to the top in the mornings and evenings when it’s cooler. Remember hiking around is part of the recreation so I would encourage you to buy a good backpack to store all of your stuff.  Spiderwire puts out a really nice one that you can order online or at one of the sporting goods stores.  Being able to stow my poles on the sides of the backpack is a giant plus when you’re hiking around the woods.

Fall is not a deal breaker!  There is a lot of activity in the tail waters when the fish are searching for food.  They will typically follow the bait fish wherever they go. Make sure to fish around the stumps and structure in the water.  I don’t care if it’s a cup sitting in the water a fish will be suspended next to it.  It gives them a sense of security and they wait for food to swim by.  I hooked a muskie on a ¼ oz. dark green with gold Colorado blade in the tail water a few seasons ago.  He was hanging around a crappie structure playing commando.  I managed to bank him but was not really geared up to catch a muskie since they are a very aggressive fish with razor sharp teeth. Once he was on the bank he cut the line and off he went with my lure!  If you plan on trying to fish for muskie you’ll have to break down and put a wire leader on your line. That’s something I don’t prefer to do so I just chance it. 

The other factors are equally important and you should incorporate them into your planned excursion. It is difficult to cast in a strong wind so you have to go to the spots that you have scoped out that have a good wind break such as a hillside or tree line.  It is also difficult to read the water in a strong wind and you can’t see the schooling of the bait fish or feeding activity.  Don’t forget to watch for the birds.  They will tell you where the bait fish are as they swarm around a specific area.

Most novice fisherman will only go out fishing when it’s a nice sunny day but I strongly encourage you to fish during a drizzly rain.  Some of the biggest fish I’ve caught was during a nice steady, good old fashioned ‘farmer’s rain’. It stirs up the fish activity due to the motion the rain makes on the water.  Now obviously you don’t want to be caught out in a torrential thunderstorm so keep a poncho in your back pack just in case you get stuck. At least you will have a fleeting hope in keeping dry! Keep an eye on the weather alerts!  Remember lightning and water does not mix!

You can find a lot of good information about fishing online such as your local lake, lures and how to tie knots. No matter what just enjoy yourself! It’s your day so make the most out of it!

Long Term Marriages a Thing of the Past?

Long Term Marriages a Thing of the Past?

 

“Til death do us part?”  Since the dawn of time this vow is in virtually all weddings. But is it just words?

I often look at the local newspaper and see the anniversary announcements of 50 and 75 year marriages.  I myself have just past the 26 year mark so I certainly have a long way to go for that milestone.  But think about that. Literally “Til death do us part.” Marriage is not a test run or just something for you to do.  It’s a lifelong commitment of two souls joined in matrimony.

People change with age and circumstance.  The person that you marry today will not be the same 25, 50 or 75 years from now. That’s why you have to grow your marriage together. It’s a job in itself and something that you have to work at everyday of your lives together. There are bad days and there are good days but the end result is that you have to work through it together.

Let’s be clear. There are certain circumstances of infidelity and abusive relationships that in fact end up in divorce. No one, male or female, should be expected to stick around in an abusive relationship. For anyone in a mentally or physically abusive relationship the first thing to do is get OUT!  Check with your local government for help or simply call the police. Go to www.thehotline.org or call 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) for information on how to get help.

By and large the majority of marriages start out as one big long date. That’s for all of you 5 year olds out there. As you grow you’ll find that the best friend that you have is your significant other.  You both learn each other’s habits, likes and dislikes and eventually will start to anticipate each other’s thoughts, moods and desires. 

There’s a simple formula for long term marriage. Bend but don’t break. You’re still you and you have a right to live your own life but you still have to consider your soul mate. Would he or she really appreciate you going out after work with your friends all of the time instead of spending time together? 

Mutual compromise is the key to a happy marriage. Don’t impose your own wants and desires over that of your spouse.  That’s why man invented the man cave, the fortress of solitude for all men to regain their manhood in a realm of peace. This formula is for both husband and wife. It takes two to make it work and both of you have to be on the same page.

Romance is a very important part of keeping your relationship hungry. Fellows, flowers go a long way. They not only say that you care but women really love beautiful things. Gals, make sure to build your husband’s ego. Men are like little boys all grown up.  They like to be first across the finish line and hit the most homeruns. They like to be the best looking and the apple of your eye.

Make sure you have date night when you have kids. Go out to dinner and a movie once a week. Go out for a walk or watch of movie at home. The key is doing something together.  Taking care of the kids is tough in today’s society of working parents. That’s why it is important to have quality time together.  There was just the two of you before the kids came along. That’s something that is very important and should never simply disappear after bringing children in the world.  Kids are a whole different subject that I dare not get into now lest I spark an eternal flame.

Marriage is a lifelong commitment folks. It’s not just something that you can do on a whim. Before making the decision just because it feels warm and fuzzy make sure that the two of you understand that it’s “Til death do us part.” Not “til I get tired of being married.”

Living with Chronic Depression

Living with Chronic Depression

 

I’m not going to dabble into the clinical aspects of Chronic Depression.  That’s already been done and redone.  I’m here to write about hope. There is hope for you if you or someone you love is suffering from Chronic Depression.

I enjoy writing about what I am passionate about such as family, marriage and personal experiences. This is probably the most personal story that I have ever written. Once published this will forever be logged into the annals of Cyberspace but if it will mean something to someone and if it can help just one person then my purpose is complete.

As a young man I recall that terrible day when my father pulled me aside and told me the worst news that I ever wanted to hear. My mother had six months to live. She had been battling colon cancer and after surgery and a long remission it had spread again and this time it was not going to let her go.  We were all there at the hospital when she died and was able to tell her how much we loved her and that we would see her soon.  She gave us all a wink and a smile and then finally let go. To the last she was thinking of others and not of herself. She was a very special person who always enjoyed her faith in God and helping other people. This traumatic episode was the catalyst which years later would culminate into a journey that would forever change my life.

I never dealt with my mother’s death. I simply suppressed it. Subconsciously I suppose I didn’t want to believe that it had happened.  What I failed to realize was that suppressing those emotions would start a ticking time bomb. Her death occurred at the time I had just started my police career and had become engaged to my wife. My wife and I decided that it would be best to move up the wedding date so that my mother could attend.  My mother only lived less than a year after we had wed. She gave it a good fight but just couldn’t continue any longer.

I soon found that my daily routine was not enough to keep my mind occupied. I began to drift away from going to church and began to binge drink and go to parties. Church just made me think of my God fearing mother. All I could think of was her praying and worshiping and singing. My daily expectation began to consist of getting off of work and going out to whoop it up with the crowd. I began to go to the gym and began focusing on weightlifting. As I became more and more immersed in the gym I became rather narcissistic. I suppose in my mind that the better I looked and the more appealing I was to others that I would feel better about myself. I suppose it was my interpretation of Anorexia?

After several years of immersing myself into my new found lifestyle, my grandmother became very ill and had to have open heart surgery. Not long afterward she died from Congestive Heart Failure. I didn’t shed a tear when she passed away. I was still in caretaker mode I suppose? I had to see to her care giving and later to her funeral because she didn’t have anyone else. In retrospect I was just so used to suppressing my emotions about death that I became an expert at it. I simply stowed it away with the rest of my baggage. My drinking soon got out of hand. I began to binge drink every night. I patted myself on the back for how high I could make the pyramid of beer cans. It was not uncommon for me to keep a bottle of Tequila in the fridge. I would put it up in the freezer when I started drinking so I could just take a shot right out of the bottle.

After 18 years of police work I had seen my share of traumatic scenes and negative episodes. I worked for a less than ideal boss who was unhappy with his own life and found necessity in reprimanding his subordinates as his way of management. Footnote to all of the iron fisted bosses out there. Servant Leadership is not a weakness! I recall my productivity declining and my dependability slowly slipping away. I was jeopardizing my fellow officers because I just didn’t care anymore. I wasn’t doing my job like I used to. I would just clock in and clock out as it were. I was becoming a liability to myself and to my comrades.

One of the last incidents that I recall that affected me greatly was a simple assist on a life squad call. The female patient was having seizures after brain surgery.  As I looked at this helpless person with her recently shaved head, convulsing on the couch, I tried my very best not to let it bother me. I was doing ok until I glanced over at the mantelpiece and saw her wedding picture. I remember thinking how beautiful she looked in her wedding dress and how happy she seemed. After I arrived home I spoke to my wife about it and just began to sob. It was so heart wrenching to see that life altering episode unfold before my very eyes.

After years of bouts with alcoholism and blowing all of my money on the night life, I remember when it all finally came to a head. My wife had had enough and told me she was going to leave if I didn’t quit drinking. She could no longer deal with my fits of rage and binge drinking. After a few rounds of denial with her and a lengthy debate, she stood her ground. I decided to give it up because of my love for her and my family. I didn’t want to lose the only good thing that I had going in my life. It was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. It made me deal with who I was the most afraid of dealing with, me!

Shortly after I had stopped drinking I remember sitting in my patrol car about to start my shift when a wave of anxiety came over me. I felt like I was spiraling down a tunnel. I just sat there with the car idling and staring at the steering wheel when I heard the voice of one of my mentors on the radio announcing that he was on duty. I immediately radioed and requested him to meet with me. I began to break down and sob when he arrived. I simply said to him that “I don’t know what to do.”  I even confided in him that at one point I was even thinking about committing suicide. I had explained to him that I didn’t know how to deal with the feelings of dread and surrender that I was embattling every day. I would wake up and go to bed with a dark cloud hanging over my head. My family couldn’t stand who I was anymore! I was a monster to them!  His advice was a turning point in my life and the lives of my family.

To my surprise my mentor explained to me that he had spoken with his doctor years ago and that I may be suffering from the same thing. He began to explain what Chronic Depression was and that I should go see my doctor.  I don’t know why but it was as if a giant weight had been lifted from me!  I saw a glimmer of hope at the end of an infinite tunnel! The next day I checked my insurance and found that I had counseling visits included in my health plan. I called my insurance company who gave me the name of a psychiatrist who offered counseling services.

I remember the first visit quite vividly. The counselor had listened to my story and agreed with my mentor that I was indeed suffering from Chronic Depression. He further explained that the deaths of my mother and grandmother coupled with the traumatic episodes in my career were the catalyst for what is described as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

He began to see me every week for quite a few months and also scheduled a session with the doctor. He had recommended that speaking with him would help and also he was recommending an anti-depressant. That troubled me a little due to the stigma associated with taking anti-depressants. I also knew that if I started taking anti-depressants that I could no longer be a police officer.  After speaking with the doctor he prescribed a low dose of Prozac. That didn’t set very well with me as I had reacted like most people. Prozac has always carried with it a clinical stigma of being associated with crazy people.

 I remember after a few weeks of counseling and taking the medication that I began to breathe again. I could feel the water finally receding. I remember coming down stairs and seeing my wife sitting on the couch. She was doing what she did best, spending time with the kids. I walked up to her and knelt down beside her and after taking her hand I simply told her, “I love you.” She began to cry which made me cry and it was a total mess. I told her how sorry I was for what I had become and that I would make it up to her and the kids.

I soon had made it up in my mind that I was going to get out of police work and filed for a disability pension. That’s a story in itself so I will just simply say that they didn’t exactly go out of their way to take care of me.  As I previously mentioned, as with the stigma associated with my medication, the same held true at the time for Chronic Depression. The mindset of the time was just to suck it up and be a man. Well I have to say for all of you in a similar situation that it takes a man to admit he needs help. Don’t be afraid to ask someone to help you.

 It’s been 12 years now since I retired from police work.  I have to say that it was the best decision of my life next to marrying my wonderful wife. I must stress the fact that it just didn’t all go away and we lived happily ever after!  On the contrary! I still didn’t completely deal with my mother’s death. I had a number of relapses with my drinking. At one point I stopped taking my medication because “I was ok now.” That was a big mistake! Most recently I tried to wean myself off of the medication under the advice of my doctor but I still went right back to where I was. My wife put her foot down again so I went to see my doctor and once again began to take the medication. I suppose I still have some baggage that I need to deal with?

Three of the saddest memories I have of those times is of my son asking me if I had started drinking again. When I told him “I’ll never lie to you son, yes I have,” he began to cry.  He was becoming a young man and I was too preoccupied with my own selfish needs to realize it. The other is of my little girl asking me “Daddy, did I do something wrong?” It broke my heart and I had to reassure her that she had done nothing wrong, that daddy was just in a bad mood. The last was when I was drinking heavily and my wife and I got into an argument. She tried to leave and began to back out of the drive way so I began kicking the car. I dented the side of it terribly and was so enraged that she was leaving and not dealing with the issue. She wasn’t the one not dealing with the issue. I was!

One very important thing that you have to realize when you stop dealing with your problems and suppressing them is that it translates into hurting the ones closest to you. You begin to lash out at the very people that you hold dearest to your heart and care for you the most. Becoming numb by drinking or taking drugs is only prolonging the inevitable.  Sooner or later you’re going to have to deal with the root cause of your depression.

If you suspect that you’re suffering from Chronic Depression, I strongly encourage you to go seek counseling. You may not want to take any medication but at the very least talk it out with a professional. If you have a clergy you can confide in by all means please make it a point to do so. There are also other resources for you to pursue such as, Cops for Christ, AA, and AL-ANON just to name a few. Out of all of the programs and out of all of the people that helped me I owe the most to my wife. She stood by me through all of the bad times. To my lovely wife I dedicate this story to you. Thank you from the depths of my heart. I love you very deeply.