Dads Against the Divorce Industry

DA*DI is devoted to reinstating the societal valuation of Marriage and the traditional, nuclear American Family, with particular emphasis on the essential role of FATHERS.

DA*DI offers contemporary reports and commentary on culture; its aberrations and its heroes.

Dr. Laura: Do You Want Smart Kids
or Good Kids?



Dr. Laura suggests:

  • In still RESPECT for authority in your children by modeling that behavior.
  • Establish CONSEQUENCES for moral lapses and follow through.
  • EAT MEALS TOGETHER. Use this time to explore meangingful issues.
  • ATTEND WORSHIP SERVICES as a family, regularly.
  • PAY ATTENTION to what your children watch, read and listen to. Take issue with immoral and unethical content.
  • by Dr. Laura Schlessinger

    January 17, 1999

    Living and working in Los Angeles gives me a lot of time to read bumper stickers in stop-and-go traffic, and I am impressed with the increasing frequency of messages that brag about the car owner's children: "My child is an honor student at ... " or "My child is on the dean's list at ... " I have yet to see one that says, "My child holds the door open for his elders," or "My daughter doesn't gossip." Nope, never see that. It makes me wonder: Is goodness perceived as having little competitive value?

    In the almost quarter-century of phone calls to my radio program, I have never had a parent lead with, "I have very decent kids." It's usually "I have four bee-you-tee-ful children" (which has led me on more than one occasion to wonder out loud as to who has the ugly ones). It's not that I think there is anything wrong in being "Beautiful" in your mom's eye. But I worry that how their children appear - smart, attractive, successful - is too much more important to too many parents than their children's character: whether their moral, compassionate, just.

    Over these past ten years we have all read of scandalous behaviors of teenagers cheating or disrespecting school authority, and drinking and having sex at proms, on school-sponsored trips or at neighborhood parties. When the kids are caught and face the appropriate sanctions by the school (suspensions, curtailed graduation privileges, fines, community service or incarceration), it is too often the parents who encourage their children to flagrantly lie and "beat the system."

    Their argument is generally that these "minor infractions" of "children" ought not to be taken so seriously that they derail the little sweethearts from their appointed college goals. In truth, these parents are willing to sacrifice their children's moral and spiritual growth for material gain. As adults, these children may well continue to sacrifice what is good and just for what is expedient and concrete.

    I remember reading a fax on my program from a dad whose daughter was the only one in her high school group who had admitted to drinking beer at a school function. Because all the other parents got attorneys and had their children lie, none of the others missed the graduation. Ths dad's daughter, because she spoke the truth , admitted her wrong-doing and accepted the appropriate consequences, was the only child in the bunch barred from the graduation ceremony - and she was an honors graduate! I am still touched remembering the tremendous pride he expressed in her brave actions.

    The girl has since gone on to Ivy League schools and done very well - which is not the point. The point is that this one parent suffered through his daughter's temporary public disgrace to enjoy a lifetime of pride because his daughter has the character to own up to her mistakes.

    The basic message our society offers is that character and values don't really count. Consider these examples:

  • Sports Illustrated highlighted the epidemic nature of out-of-wedlock births and domestic violence in the ranks of professional athletes. Are these payers booed off the courts? Drummed out of the game? No - not as long as they score those points and bring in the money.

    My recommendations to counteract this: Make it clear to children that no amount of scoring, fame or fortune makes up for a lack of responsibility and character. Find examples of virtuous behavior in the world and celebrate it. Create you own "Hall of Fame" in the family by rewarding decent behavior; and in the world, by having your children write letters of appreciation to those who "do good."

  • The media perpetuate distorted values - and by the time kids graduate from high school, they have spent "vastly more time on TV than in all the classrooms they've ever entered," says culture critic Michael Medved (whose new book, with wife Diane, is Saving Childhood: Protecting Our Children From the National Assault on Innocence). Medved agrees with me that wanting our kids to appear good more than be good is "a huge problem in American child-rearing." And television makes it worse, by teaching "that the biggest crime is not being immoral, but being unattractive."

    You and your children have to live your values, or they appear esoteric and ultimately meaningless. Individually and as a family, participate in acts of kindness for senior citizens, handicapped people and others who are struggling. Your children will learn by experience where beauty really is - in one's love, compassion and generosity.

  • Teens today are "as bad as, or worse than, they've ever been" when it comes to dishonest, unethical behavior, says Michael Josephson of the California-based Josephson Institute of Ethics. The institute's latest survey of middle and high school students found that 47 percent admitted having stolen from a store, 70 percent admitted having cheated on an exam and 92 percent admitted having lied to a parent in the previous year. At least as shocking as the kid's lack of values: When Josephson appeared on a talk show decrying the epidemic of cheating, a parent called in to tell him, "You've just convinced me I should teach my kid how to cheat" so the other cheaters wouldn't have an advantage.

    Says Josephson: "when you ask parents whether they'd rather have a good kid or a rich kid, they'll tell you they'd rather have their children be good. But if you look at their behavior - and the children's interpretation of what's important to the parents - it's getting ahead, getting the grades, getting into the best school.

    Parents cannot teach values without living them. Those who perpetually sacrifice family time for work - missing children's school events, pretending a business trip is a family vacation - send a clear message that acquisition and self-gratification are more important than commitment and loving relationships.

    Our obligation to our children cannot be fulfilled by sending them to the best preschools, buying them the latest toys or acquiescing to the current outrageous fads of slutty or gangster garb. Raising children moral molecule by moral molecule is very time-consuming, hard work. It requires consistent teaching and discipline, as well as demonstrating goodness by our own actions and interactions.

    But it's the only way parents can honor their sacred trust to develop children who are lovingly bonded, moral and good.

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