What We Miss Most

When you are eight years old, nothing is any of your business.
– Lenny Bruce, comedian (1925-1966)

It’s a good laugh line for a comedian. Just about everyone remembers that when they were eight years old nobody wanted to include them in adult affairs or conversations. And the adults in Lenny’s audience likely did the same with their own kids.

I remember a man I overheard speaking to another man, when I was about 15 years old, saying “I don’t bother trying to have conversations with anyone younger than 25 because they don’t know enough to hold a decent conversation.” It impressed me so much I decided to learn enough to be able to hold a good conversation by the age of 25.

I certainly didn’t consider including my own children in conversations I had with my wife when they were that age. They weren’t interested anyway.

I was wrong.

My kids were wrong, but maybe because of our practice of excluding our kids from adult conversations they just got used to how things were.

It’s the sole purpose in life of a child to learn what it’s like in the adult world they are enter within a few years. The young of every species has that same purpose.

If we, as parents and grandparents, don’t include kids in our conversations, they miss out on opportunities to learn from us.

What we don’t teach with intention, kids learn by our example. If our parents didn’t talk about sex or even indicate that they had sex with each other, they likely didn’t say much to us about the subject. We learn the hard way, probably the way our parents did. There’s a pretty good chance that we and our parents both missed out on much of what we could have had and done if we and they had known more.

In turn, our kids miss out if we don’t know what to teach them and how.

Kids most often follow the examples of their parents when they reach the age of majority and have to choose a political party to vote for. They have overheard discussions among their parents that led them to the conclusion that one party is better than the other(s). Most parents don’t even indicate to their kids that voters have more than one choice. The young adults vote the way their parents would.

We’re forced to learn too much the hard way. We make too many mistakes on stuff where there was no reason we shouldn’t have known better, stuff that someone should have taught us.

Why should a child learn a foreign language and trigonometry in school if that child will never use it as an adult, but that child never receives proper instruction about how to make and keep friends, how to be a good spouse in a marriage or how to be a good parent?

We fail at friendships, marriages and parenting. We never get a chance to fail at speaking the foreign language or using trig in most cases, but that’s just as well because we likely forgot most of it since we had no use for it.

Do the arithmetic. Which is more important, knowing how to make and keep friends, how to have a compatible marriage and how to be a good parent or how to speak a foreign language and do trigonometry?

That’s not to put down learning languages or trig, only to state that we have other more important needs that our parents, our grandparents and our teachers seldom or never address.

We accept this because “That’s the way it has always been done.” It’s clearly wrong, so does that mean that many generations of our ancestors were wrong? It’s a sharp edged pill to swallow, but, yup, they were wrong.

When we chose to exclude ourselves from the natural courses of nature in our modern world, we didn’t compensate for the important lessons that nature teaches to every other species on the planet. We miss some of the most important lessons in life. Parents don’t know them so they can’t teach what they don’t know. Or they are reticent about teaching what they learned themselves by doing and making mistakes.

No matter, we have sports, drugs, other addictions, abuse, volunteering, exercising and lots of other ways to compensate for our lack of knowledge about important human subjects.

That won’t change until some of us decide to change it. The longer we wait to change the system by teaching kids what they need to know as adults, the bigger the job will be.

It could all change in a flash if school curriculums were changed. That’s not hard because curriculums change almost every year to some extent.

Doing nothing is easier. Except the problems keep getting worse.

Maybe we should talk about this subject more.

Bill Allin
Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today’s Epidemic Social Problems, a guidebook for parents and teachers that provides material that all kids should know but that most never get at home or in school.
Learn more at http://billallin.com

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