Monday, March 8, 2010

We didn`t agree on money or religion, either

posted Thu, 09 Mar 2006

One of the things Gomez and I didn’t agree on was how to raise children. Every day, he would call his little boy, who is seven, and every day, his little boy would say, “Daddy, I want this” or “Daddy, I want that.” Zoom. Out the door we went in search of a fly-fishing rod (his little boy had never fished before) or a plastic neon bracelet (I think the Lance Armstrong bracelet craze had just hit Morocco) or whatever.

I endured this ridiculousness, even though it annoyed me greatly and even though we spent much of the rest of our time at The Gap shopping for clothes for the kid. (OK, so I lied. The trip to Paris wasn’t that great. So sue me.)

When I commented that perhaps buying a child everything he wants wasn’t maybe such a good idea, Gomez shrugged and said if he could afford it, why not?

Because that is how children get spoiled is why not, I answered.

But that is how we do things in my culture, he replied. And you don’t know. You don’t have kids.

As he’s saying this, I’m thinking under my breath that if the two of us were ever to get married and have children, it would be over my dead body that any child of mine would be raised this way.

So he’ll buy his son anything he wants, yet he won’t let him wear what he wants – not even to the point of letting him choose between two outfits. “Because what he wears reflects on me!” he told me. “And I’m the father. I’m in charge.”

Gomez has live-servants, and his son has no chores. He is not responsible even for cleaning his own bedroom.

So he has a child he is not teaching to make decisions and to whom he is not teaching any responsibility at all. He’ll turn out to be a great adult, I’m sure.

One of the main reasons my sister broke up with her ex-boyfriend of two years was disagreements over his son. Will and Jenny disagreed over how Tim, now nine, should be raised. Jen thought Tim was old enough to learn table manners and heck, manners, period. She thought he was old enough to be required to wear his nice shoes to the ceremony when his dad was promoted to fire chief – not his ratty old sneakers. She thought Tim was old enough to be required to eat supper with the family and ate what she prepared and not whine about it. You know – little things like that that create a civilized human being.

Will thought Jen was being too hard on Tim. Neither he nor his parents, who stay with Tim on the days when Will is at the fire station (one out of three), backed her up on any of these issues. Will said Jen didn’t know what she was talking about. “You don’t have any kids,” he said huffily.

I hear some of you parents getting all defensive out there, nodding your heads, saying the same thing: “You don’t have kids! You don’t know!” but you don’t have to be a parent to know bad parenting when you see it.

Jen, who has been babysitting since she was 11, took infant and child development classes as part of her master’s degree, and happens to have a lot of common (or maybe uncommon) sense, rolled her eyes and suggested that perhaps Will might want to talk to a therapist. Her theory is that Will was compensating for the death of Tim’s mother and that Will’s late wife had been the disciplinarian.

Will actually took Jen’s advice and saw a therapist. Guess what the therapist said. Guess.

The therapist told Will that everything my sister had said was right and that Will should listen to her.

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