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Marolt: Lousy parenting can only go so far

Roger Marolt

Let's talk about something that everyone is an expert on. Of course I am referring to how other people should raise their children. Every single person in the world knows how to do this perfectly well, except the child's actual parents. How sad.

It doesn't matter if you are 18 or 80, college educated or a preschool dropout, man or woman, rich or poor, black or white, Jew or gentile; a baby crying on an airplane is completely irritating, not particularly because the babe is disrupting the peace and quiet of a gigantic airliner roaring across the sky with its engines at full throttle, but specifically because its parents are morons who don't have a clue how to comfort it. Admit it, you think you could settle that baby down.

The ineptitude is not confined to the monitoring of infants, either. Have you ever observed parents supervising their toddlers in a competent manner at a restaurant? I didn't think so. You must childproof your home before guests with tots arrive. The little buggers get into everything because their parents can't control them.

Have you ever heard an adult commenting to another about how polite and poised some teenager is? It seems that these types of observation are delivered with an attitude of surprise. Why? It's because this admirable behavior and display of maturity has occurred despite the incompetency of the parents. A caring grandparent must have intervened.

If there are so many incompetent parents in the world, how is it possible that there are so many ‘normal’, functioning, happy parenting critics?

Older kids either major in the wrong subject or waste their degrees working at the wrong job. They either move to the wrong city or choose to live in the bad part of a good town. They lack direction or motivation. They choose the wrong spouses. Did you notice how much they drank at the neighborhood picnic? Even if they earn an advanced degree in a good subject and work in their field of study in a great city in a beautiful home in a great neighborhood, have you noticed they just don't seem happy? If their parents had spent a little more quality time with them, all this could have been prevented.

Of course this commentary continues until the child begins to have children of their own. The good news is that they are no longer seen as victims of their parents' incompetencies. The bad news is that they are now viewed as the products of their parents' ineptitudes and, to no one's surprise, have become horrible parents themselves.

It is hard to be a good parent because there are about a zillion books that tell you exactly what you need to do, when you need to do it, and how exactly to do it. It gets complicated because every single one of these books spells out a different perfect plan. They are all clinically proven to work. And guess what? If they don't, it's because the parents didn't follow through with the step-by-step plan. They lacked the discipline, understanding, moral fortitude and energy needed to make it work.

It's time to ask the hard question. If there are so many incompetent parents in the world, how is it possible that there are so many "normal," functioning, happy parenting critics? Wouldn't you suppose the world would be more messed up with so many lousy moms and dads? The evidence doesn't support the hypothesis. We must not be the all-knowing experts we think we are, and all the floundering parents we observe are not the dimwits we assess them to be.

Now that I've chased this one around the barn enough to fill my boots with manure, I'll get to the point. I think Donald Trump is completely incompetent. But, and this is a big "but," and I can barely force my fingers to type the following words: He can't possibly be wrong about everything.

In spite of everything objectionable I observe about the man, I cannot deny that our country and the world are still functioning. While definitely not anything close to a majority, lots of people think he is doing a good job. I can barely imagine that, but I accept it as truth.

What am I saying? Let the baby cry. Let him make a mess in the restaurant. Accept that he is going to break a few things we neglected to move out of his reach. Know that he is going to smoke cigarettes in the school bathroom. He's already chosen the wrong career. But, everything still has a chance of turning out OK. In the meantime, let's not blame his parents.

Roger Marolt thinks what this country needs most is better ear plugs. Email at roger@maroltllp.com.