Sunday, August 23, 2020

Vote for the United States of America

 Now that the Democrats have concluded their political convention, nominating Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, and the Republicans are gearing up for theirs, where they will affirm the campaign of incumbents Donald Trump and Mike Pence, the serious campaigning will begin. And after hearing the Democrats and before even seeing the Republicans, I can say the most significant speech and pronouncement throughout this process has already been given. It was a short five minute video from former Ohio Governor and long-time Republican leader John Kasich. 

It emphasized one word:  United

John Kasich is a good person and a lifelong public servant. And he crossed party lines to speak for the Democrat's convention during which he endorsed another good person and lifelong public servant, Joe Biden. He talked about unity and shared vision. He and many others are concerned about, and he warned against, the significant "division, dysfunction, irresponsibility, and growing vitriol between our citizens." That has been "the path of the past four years," and that is not what I like to believe about my country. It's not how I was raised, it's not what I recall from my youth, and it's not what I want in my leadership or on the news every night. 

I truly believe we lost a great opportunity in 2016 when, for reasons and motivations I still can't fathom, we as voters passed up the chance to have an election between Joe Biden and John Kasich. That would have been an incredibly tough and legitimately close election for all the right reasons. And the true beauty of it would have been that America couldn't lose either way.

I don't really believe many people are enjoying the unpleasant division in our country right now. Not many people appreciate and value the negativity, the contempt, the derision, the anger, the outrage, the discomfort, the angst that we feel whenever politics is mentioned. It shouldn't be like this, and it doesn't have to be. We can vote for candidates like John Kasich and Joe Biden -- people who work together and compromise and learn and grow, even as they disagree and occasionally get in spats about issues on which they are passionate. 

We all know one party's candidate has embraced division and contempt. One candidate is like that All-State insurance meme about mayhem and chaos and destruction. We know for absolute certainty how the past four years have felt. We know what the future with one candidate will look like. 

Thus, this year I am recommending that whomever we vote for, it's the candidates who represent unity and the "United" States of America.

Friday, August 14, 2020

Gen X Parenting: raising the neXt generation

From Dr. Spock’s Common Sense Book of Baby & Child Care in 1946 to Amy Chua’s Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother in 2011, we have seen no shortage of philosophies on parenting in the past seventy-five years. Lately most of the attention has been on the Baby Boomer’s helicopter parenting of their Millennial children, who are now heading into prime child rearing years. But, of course, in the middle is Generation X, the latch key kids of the 70s, who’ve quietly gone about raising Gen Z. Through that lens, and looking back on my past eighteen years raising two children while educating countless others, I’ve crafted a parenting reflection entitled “Gen X Parenting, & raising Generation neXt,” which is posted on Medium. Here are the first couple paragraphs: 

"Would you let your ninth grader hang out at a house with no parents home? Would you let that same freshman male hang out alone at a house with two girls?" That challenging question was posed by a friend on social media. My answer: "Sure.” If Gen X’s approach to parenting were a formula, it would be: raise ‘em and trust ‘em. And even as my wife and I debate how much is our kids’ nature and how much is our environment, we know we’ve played a significant role in who they’ve become.

So in that hypothetical situation, I’d trust him. We trust our son and our daughter. We also speak candidly with them and always have. That's the mark of a Generation X parent. The Boomers created the idea of helicopter parenting, and it’s not an admirable development in the parenting game. It’s not surprising though; for the rebellious flower children didn’t want their kids doing what they had done, and with rising levels of affluence, they simply wanted to give their children everything, a sort of nod to indulging every pleasure, but with supervision. Granted, some in the Gen X demographic are influenced by similar child-rearing anxiety, even morphing into the disturbing snowplow parenting phenomenon. But for most of us who grew up kind of on our own as latch-key kids of the 70s and 80s, we have different ideas about raising children. It’s the sort of hands off approach to be expected of the last kids to ride without seatbelts and car seats.