It ain’t luck

Bouncing around town with Tony to Tae Kwon Do, the library, the playground, school, doctors’ offices and the like, it’s inevitable that I see a variety of parenting styles. I don’t think there’s any one right way to parent, but it’s obvious that there are some … ummm … styles of parenting that are steeped in failure — soaking in it, wallowing in suckage — while the successful ones have a few broad commonalities.

In any area where kids and parents gather, I’ll see some children who are reasonably well-behaved on an ongoing basis, and others who seem to have slipped unobserved past the gates of Hell to wreak havoc on the world at large. The well-behaved ones are almost always the ones with parents who treat them with some amount of affection, positive reinforcement and kindness. The monsters are the ones whose parents bark at them, insult them, or ignore them.

Usually — almost always — the well-behaved kids and affectionate parents show signs of being gainfully employed and self-supporting — not wealthy, but obviously making their own way in the world: clean, with decent clothes, functioning cars, and a sense of organization and purpose. The abusive and neglectful families (as likely to be random guardians of the moment as actual parents) of the hellions all too often (with occasional unfortunate exceptions) show indications of precariously perching on the bottom rung of the socio-economic ladder, or maybe just teetering on the brink of the abyss, surrounded as they are by a funk of despair, BO and stale cigarette smoke.

You’d think, wouldn’t you, that the people with, let us say, less-admirable parenting habits might see some cause-and-effect relationship here? One style (or group of styles) of parenting seems linked to better-behaved children and all the indicators of a measure of economic success in life. The other style correlates with a multi-generational train wreck lived within the confines of trailer parks and government-subsidized housing.

Except … Except …

A couple of times I’ve been approached, and seen other good parents approached, to be told that we’re “lucky” to have such smart, well-behaved kids.


Isn’t it funny how much good luck seems to result from a modicum of planning, work and giving a shit?

But if you sit around waiting to be blessed with a “lucky” kid, time is going to drag on …


  • Jorge says:

    When the girls were around Tony’s age we got that all the time. Now that my oldest is 18 we still get variants of it. Some people never learn.

  • Brett says:

    You might even forego planning; there is no substitute for the hard work or giving a shit aspects of parenting. Way too many feral children here on the East Coast

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