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Thoughts on advice, growing up

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By Ken Begley

“When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.”
Mark Twain

I love that Mark Twain quote. We’re all so smart when we’re young because we haven’t been “educated” by the world yet. Life doesn’t come with a handbook. Though it does come by a series of tests. You pass some, fail others and hopefully learn by the end results. If you don’t, then you’ll get tested again somewhere along the line. But here is a real truth you can live by. You will never stop “growing up” until the day you die.

Growing up has never been harder than it is today.

In fact, if you raised children 20, 30 or 40 years ago, you would be like a kid riding a bicycle in the Indianapolis 500 today. I think I can make this observation because, at 56, I was raised in that generation and having had five kids with the youngest 11, I’m a parent today. It’s a different world.

The broken marriages, the drugs, the alcohol abuse, entertainment that glorifies violence and pornography, and a couple of dozen forms of the Internet and social media makes life so much more difficult today than in the past. Kids and adults have many, many more ways to be tempted and not only get into trouble but to have their indiscretions publicized to the entire community, if not the world, in a matter of minutes.

I feel no moral sense of superiority over any of today’s parents or their children when they stumble and fail. I feel sick and grieve instead when I see it because I’ve had my own failures as a parent and by my own children. I no longer feel that whatever happened to someone else’s family couldn’t happen to my family because I’m such a “good parent and husband.” Instead, I always say a secret prayer asking God not to test my family the way some other families have been tested.

I’ll tell you another thing. I’m glad I didn’t get raised up in these times.

Let’s be honest.

If even the most saintly grandparents and great grandparents were raised under today’s same conditions and standards, it would be interesting to see how they would have turned out. My guess is not much different than the way a lot of our children are today.

Yet people are very quick to give advice these days on how you should run your life or your family.

I once had a middle-aged fellow that started giving me advice on raising children. He had a lot of ideas and was very smug and self-confident in his answers. I was taken aback as I knew he was single. I finally asked “You don’t have any children, do you?”

The answer I got surprised me. He actually did have children. It was by three different women, none that he married, and none of the children had lived with him. He was just sort of a Don Juan that loved them, left them and might occasionally visit later after the birth. This happened in an age when the government didn’t try to track these guys down and make them pay.

You know what he also told me? He said that if he had had the Internet in his day he would have gotten a lot more girls pregnant.
Then he laughed.

It didn’t bother him in the least because he had never been held accountable in his life for what he had done and he felt no regret or remorse.

It stunned me.

However, if I go to hell then I’ve already got a good idea as to the company that I’ll be keeping for an eternity.

I know this all sounds a bit bleak.

But there is hope for the future.

If I were to give other parents some advice, it would be this:

Don’t look too far ahead.

Take each day as it comes.

Do the best you can.

Don’t beat yourself up if your kids stumble and fall.

Try to not beat up your kids either.

Remember the type of world that they are living in and what they have to deal with.

It’s okay to get mad but then you have to try and get over it.

Pick yourself up and start all over again.

The final piece of advice: You better pray to God a lot.

Take care.