This piece was written in 2010 (so the examples are dated) but I find that it is every bit as salient now as it was then. If anything, personal responsibility has become more important to me as I learn more about being a parent.
Over the past week I have read article after article speaking about how victimized, how powerless, how downtrodden, and how oppressed Americans are. It’s enough to make me go to some place with loads of personal freedoms, like Taliban-controlled Afghanistan. Seriously? When did we become a nation of self-important but not self-empowered whiny cry-babies?
“I can’t be held responsible for my child being obese.”
Really? You are the parent/guardian and the only one deciding what your child eats or does not eat. You also have primary influence on how much physical activity that child gets. I think responsibility lands squarely on your shoulders.
“Commercials for toys are making my child want to eat unhealthy fast food”
Really? If you are the parent, you have the option of changing the channel, changing the programming your kids watch, or just turning the TV off. If you fail to do any of the above, or something else to thwart the manipulative advertisements (that is redundant), then the responsibility lands squarely on your shoulders. Impulse control in your child is entirely your responsibility. Controlling what your child eats and making sure they eat healthy is entirely your responsibility.
“I can’t be held accountable for teaching my children about gender roles and personal self esteem because they watch Snooki.”
Really? You allow a retarded person on television to hold more sway in how your child sees the world than you? You have let someone who has only gained popularity and notoriety last year become a stronger influence on your child than you? If that’s the case you should be charged with criminal endangerment. You have the access, the right and the responsibility to teach your child how to view the world and people in it. It is your duty.
“It’s not my fault that the contract (that I signed) raised my interest rates (which they specified) on the mortgage (which I entered into) on my house (which was never really mine and I couldn’t afford).”
Really? When I was growing up kids were taught to read the fine print. Interesting enough the majority of people caught up in the real estate side of the sub-prime crisis were “surprised” by details in a contract which they signed and had in their possession. Let the buyer beware. They told you that they were going to rob you, wrote it down on a piece of paper which you signed, and you want to claim it isn’t your fault. If you believe that, hand me your checkbook.
“I’m being oppressed because the county that I live in won’t continue to bus my kids across the county to better schools and bus those other kids into the rat hole that I live in.”
Really? Now this one is particularly interesting because the individuals that are leading this fight are the same individuals who could have addressed these issues ahead of time. Anyone interested in having a better education for their children could have gotten involved in tutoring/mentoring, creating after-school programs, or just provided an educational environment in the community. I seem to remember a lot of that in lower-income neighborhoods in a number of major cities. If you don’t want to do all of that, you could have picked up and moved to Cary, Morrisville, Apex, or other parts of Raleigh, like all the parents you want to condemn did. In most cases, Western Wake County is less expensive and has more resources than SE Raleigh or Garner. Don’t believe me? Ask all the Hispanics and Africans that live in Cary and Apex. The houses are roughly the same as in SE and Garner, but they cost less and their kids are in neighborhoods with well-performing schools. If you are not prepared to improve the situation where you are or move your family into a better situation, then you are not being oppressed you are being lazy and childish.
I think the last one is the most telling and saddest.
“If I’m made to get healthcare insurance, I am being oppressed.”
Really? Are you human? If so, your body will experience sickness. Are you an adult? If so, you have likely already survived sicknesses that your parents or guardian(s) paid for on your behalf. Just like Auto Insurance protects you and your vehicle, because we know it will breakdown eventually, Healthcare Insurance protects you and your body because we know it will breakdown eventually. Everyone dies. No one dies of good health. So your argument is that you can be forced to insure your car (if you have one, or plan to drive one), forced to insure your home (if you buy/lease a house or rent an apartment) but being forced to insure yourself (which you can’t get rid of until death) is state-mandated oppression? No, insuring yourself is doing something that all the previous examples do not do. It makes you accountable for you, your health, and your eventual healthcare costs. If that doesn’t sound fair to you, feel free to move to Mexico and see how long being uninsured sounds like a good idea.
When we were the kick ass and take names country, I had no problem with us being the richest, the sexiest, the most glamorous, the most powerful. We earned it! We worked multiple jobs. We started businesses and grew them to enormous sizes. We saw those who had more, got mad that they had more, and found ways to EARN what they had and more. More and more it seems like we are losing that in this country. Everything is someone else’s fault. We’ve become fat, dumb and happy. In short, we’ve become soft. We don’t have the luxury of arguing McDonald’s Happy Meals and “I don’t wanna pay for my healthcare” when we’re in massive debt, a very poor economy and at war.
- In San Francisco, No Bling with Happy Meals (blogs.lawyers.com)