How does a parent teach common sense? This is not a rhetorical question. I need to know the answer. Or my kids will never leave home.
This has been on my mind of late, as my oldest has wandered aimlessly into her teen years.
I listen to a radio talk show on the way into work, and yesterday one of the hosts related a story about his kid who just went away to college. For his mother’s birthday he sent home a card. It arrived with a 1¢ stamp and 41¢ postage due. When he asked his son why he bought only a 1¢ stamp he replied that he thought it made sense to buy the cheapest one they sold.
After some well-deserved teasing of his son, the host asked if this indicated a fundamental lapse in his parenting. His co-host responded, correctly in my opinion, that eventually people have to take the responsibility to ask questions, and that it’s not possible for a parent to know everything his child still needs to learn.
This anecdote gives me some comfort that my kids are not unique in their inability to question and learn from everyday life. But it does little for my hope that they will one day evolve to the point where they can safely leave home.
I mean, at 13, Claudia should understand why it’s important to take the pots and pans out of the oven before preheating it. And if she forgets to do it, she understand the reason she should use a potholder to correct the problem.
At 11, Gabe should understand that he should close the door before letting the dog off the leash.
They should know this, right?
I remember asking questions when I was young. And not just the why is the sky blue variety. Why do we pay sales tax? Why do we need immunizations? How do you mail a letter?
Sure my kids ask why, but it’s more a way to question authority than in a quest for understanding. Why do I have to clear the dishes. Why do I have to go to bed now?
All this makes me wonder if—both in our own home, and in society as a whole—we are nurturing a generation of people who desperately want control, but who are wildly unprepared to get that control.