Human School

A few weeks ago, I watched My Lamb in a play. She’s an excellent actress. I believed she got the tar beat out of her by her senior high boyfriend. Oh, did I not mention the subject matter? Teen dating violence. Not the most comfortable way to spend 45 minutes of my life, btw, watching simulated knock-down-drag-outs between high-schoolers involved in inappropriate relationships.

Put me in mind of the time I volunteered to judge a public high school forensics debate.  The 8 AM offering of that Saturday’s dramatic reading was about a straight man’s homosexual lover dying of HIV AIDS. It was followed by stories of a Chernobyl survivor, a man dying of cancer and one humorous treatment of insurance fraud. Yeah, whatever happened to cartoons on Saturday morning?

Am I that sheltered? Is this how today’s young people spend their time? Getting beaten up by boyfriends and reading books about HIV AIDS? Apparently, I am that sheltered. Listening to the crowd at the play (we had a debriefing afterwards, with a real live psychologist ), every child involved with that play was someone or knew someone who had been victimized in such a way. These were children from different schools, if you’re wondering.

The play before My Lamb’s first dramatic non-ditz role involved school bullying. A one-two punch, so to speak. The common denominator with these two plays (other than the author)?

Lack of parental involvement.

One play did have a mom, who tried to help her daughter behave well, but obviously didn’t know how and sort of gave up halfway through. The other mentioned parents peripherally as people who were working or dealing with their own abusive relationships or out of town and had to be called when their little girl finally found the courage (with the help of her also sophomore-aged girl friend) to leave the abusive relationship.

Here’s my takeaway from the experience, and I can promise you it wasn’t the “learn to love and care for yourself” message the author intended.

Humans need training.

People aren’t alligators. Or ducks. They don’t pop out of their shells already knowing everything they need to know to survive. If they did, they’d grow up faster and move out sooner.

Humans take 18 years (some would say more) to mature into adults. During that time, their parents – the adults – are supposed to be teaching them everything they need to know to be human. This includes how to behave like humans in groups, how to behave like humans in private and how to behave like humans in general.

When parents are continuously absent, for whatever reason, children don’t learn these things. They certainly don’t learn them from other children. Instead of becoming human, they become confused, spiteful, abusive monsters. Unfortunately, this can happen under the watchful eye of some parents, too, but most parents do a passable job of teaching little humans the best way to be big humans, if they take the time and effort. Teaching does require both.

For my readers who are parents, know this: you have the most important job in the world – training up the next generation of humans. Please take it seriously.

“Cause they’ll choose all our nursing homes.

“Hear, O Israel, The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” Deut. 6:4-7 NIV

May God bless the reading of His Word.

About Robynn Tolbert

Born in Kansas and born again at age six, Robynn has published two novels and started her third. Robynn, aka Ranunculus Turtle, lives in Kansas with a clowder of cats, a patient dog and a garden.

10 comments on “Human School

  1. This makes e think about two things..

    One–this is one reason I homeschool. Don’t get me wrong–I’m not anti-public-school. I know a lot of parents who are highly involved in their kids’s lives and are raising great little humans without homeschooling. But, I have personally decided that homeschooling is how i want to raise my kids, and much of my reasoning is not wanting my kids’ primary influences to be other kids with no more life experience than my kids have.

    Two–I read a lot of YA/teen fiction, and most often the parents are “absent” in one way or another. They are dead, divorced, or just plain stupid. It is a literary device–because how can the kids get themselves into a situation that needs getting out of if the parents step in and handle it all–wouldn’t make for very exciting fiction .The problem is, it can make those situations sounds cool. (I could turn this into a “that’s why I love Harry Potter books” lecture, but I won’t :).)

    Anyway, I guess I’m saying, great post. Your dear Lamb is lucky to have an auntie like you.

  2. Very excellent, Princess Turtle.

    I hold nothing back if/when one of my children throws the stupid card…but so-and-so’s mom said. I could give a flying flip what so-and-so or so-and-so’s mom have to say. I think I may have to write a blog about the consequences of stupid soon. 😛

  3. One of the things I make a point to do when I discipline my 7 year old son, is remind him that God has given me the job to teach him to be a grown-up. Then I relate his wrong actions to things he’ll experience as a grown-up.

    I so think as a society we’re missing the mark on this. My mom taught grade school her entire career. She says about 15 years ago there was a noticeable change in the attitudes of the parents. If a child got in trouble, the question was no longer, “What did my child do?” It became, “What did you do to my child?”

    Too many parents try to play the friend role and have completely lost what it means to be a parent.

    • Oh, Keven, you have hit on something there. It can no longer be the kids’ fault anymore. There’s no accountability for individual behavior. And then what happens? The child never learns they have to respect authority, or earn their own way. When they’re fired from a job for not actually doing that job, they blame the boss because they’ve never learned consequences.

      Not that the child is always at fault–sometimes the adult is in the wrong, or the boss is a jerk, but too often the blame is shifted because parents are passing an attitude to their kids they can do no wrong.

      I do what you do, Keven, and explain to my kids what their actions and attitudes lead to as adults.

      • Something sadly lacking in both these plays (and probably our society as a whole) was not only the solid parent-child relationship necessary to train adults, but any kind of faith-based reasoning for doing so. How can people be “good” if they have no standard for “good?” “Why do you call me good?” Jesus asked. “Only God is good.”
        There was a ouiji board, though, so maybe they think that covered it. Oi.

  4. My Dearest Turtle.

    I could go on and on about this subject but————I won’t! I just finished one of these talks with one of my Grand daughters. I feel like a broken record. I think I’m going to leave it up to the parents. Anyway. as usual, VERY GOOD POST!

  5. Thank you, m”dear. You take a break and talk some more when you’re rested. Kids need to hear this stuff often or they won’t be able to repeat it to their own children. 🙂

  6. Ooo…parental involvement is such a touchy subject for me. If you want to hear me go off on an incoherent rant about today’s society…bring up parent/child relationships and the training up of our youth. Oy! Great post, Robynn, and right on track. I’m with Kat, this is one reason I homeschool–it’s not up to the teachers to train my child, I definitely can’t trust other kids. God gave me (and my husband) the blessing of children and the responsibility of showing them how to be good people. And…ok, I’ll stop now. 🙂

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