Sunday, December 7, 2008

Raising Teenagers

One lady we know used to go around town telling other people how to raise their children; and some people actually thought that she was some sort of expert.  But she had no children; she was a teacher.  Somehow being a teacher is not quite the same as being a parent.  The two are not necessarily interchangeable.

Early in American history, parents would ‘exchange’ children or send their children to apprentice under someone who had a desirable or necessary trade.  If a blacksmith was needed and someone had a sturdy teenager who needed to sweat out some of the hormonal influences of his age, the young man was sent to live with or work under a village smithy.  A young girl was sent to learn dressmaking or put to work in a hotel cooking or cleaning.  The young people might not have been terrifically happy about the situation, but the substitute parents had no emotional ties to the young ones and could easily ‘correct’ them without distressing themselves.

At one point when our last two children were entering their teens, I wished for a farmer who had need of a good hand with fence building and wrangling or maybe a camp in need of a teenager who could keep up with about fifteen or twenty little kids.  We didn’t have a horse or a cow for a kid to chase, and the dog couldn’t outlast them, so we had to deal with the roller coaster of living with emotional teenagers.  Remembering back today at how helpless we felt, I can well understand why to some parents Nebraska looks like the perfect place to take teenagers.

Recently an insurance agent related to us his visit to the school where his son was walking down the hall swinging his arms.  The teacher scolded the child for not walking straight and with his hands at his sides.  Sitting here thinking about what constitutes a child, I think that woman was WAY out of line.  The parent told her she was lucky that the boy was walking, much less walking straight and not swinging his arms.  The kid is ADHD—another term for uncontrollably antsy.

Kids NEED physical exercise and a place to vent.  If I had my way, each child would have his or her own donkey by age 8 and a horse by age 12.  And the CHILD would care for and groom the animal before school and ride after school each day for at least an hour.  A donkey teaches balance as no other animal can.  It also can teach patience.  A horse gives a child a companion who can love back and who can give the child some area of life to control.

Horses have become luxury items or liabilities for some families.  But for parents who have teenagers who need someplace to grow up just a little, I would definitely recommend a good horse farm.  Maybe by the time the grandchildren need a horse—probably next year—we will be able to find someone who needs a little wrangler to help care for critters.  Hmm.  Seems like someone in the family has a horse ranch in Pennsylvania.  That is just a bit farther than Nebraska . . .


Anonymous said...

I think you were raised in the wrong age. Oh but for a good time machine.

lakegraham said...

I liked the story and I agree. I wish I could have had a horse when I was small. But my dad moved around a lot for his job. We couldn't do a lot of those things. I did have a good childhood tho. I turned out ok.