Archive for the ‘Social Commentary’ Category

Freshman Orientation, A Parental POV

Last Friday, I went with our son to his Freshman Orientation at Truman State University, in Kirksville, MO.  Living in Rolla, MO population 19,000 give or take a few, and now facing life in Kirksville, population 17,000 give or take a few, wasn’t much of a shock for our son.  We have heard of students at Truman coming in from St. Louis and its environs having trouble getting used to life in a smaller community, so I was glad to realize our son wouldn’t have that hurdle to contend with as he settles in at school.

Truman State Univ.

It’s a 3 hour drive from Rolla to Kirksville, pretty much due north, driving up highway 63.  The  Ozark  hills are in our area of Missouri, but once we got past Columbia, the Ozark hills and crags gave way to flatter  lands with gently rolling hills.  We saw plenty of fields with corn “Knee high by the fourth of July” and soybeans.  My dad would be pleased to see such well-growing crops.

Truman State University has undergone changes over it’s almost 150 year history.  In 1867, it was known as North Missouri Normal School and Commercial College.  A couple years later, the Missouri  legislature made it into  the First District Normal School for the  training of teachers.  In 1919, the school was renamed Northeast Missouri Teachers College.  1967, a new name was chosen to reflect the expanded course and degrees now being offered: Northeast Missouri State College and then in 1972, the word college was changed to university.  1996,  the school became known as Truman State University, named after Missouri’s only native son to be elected President of the U.S., Harry S. Truman.  (In fact, for the incoming Freshman, they have to read a book about a road trip/vacation Harry and Bess Truman took after his presidency.  Many of the orientation activities will be borrowed from the book: Harry Truman’s Excellent Adventure by Matthew Ageo.)

Harry Truman's Excellent

 

We found the campus easily and the University had taken several of the parking lots closest to the student union, our meeting site, and made them for visitors parking.  I thought it a smart marketing idea that the University’s bookstore had employees out front and center handing each student a drawstring bag in the school’s main color of purple, with a coupon in each bag for  a percentage off of books purchased that day.  With our 3 older kids having either graduated or almost being done with college, we know that a lot of textbooks are purchased online, even rented online(they have to be returned) and that those methods of obtaining textbooks have hurt college bookstores, but hey! That’s supply and demand, entrepreneurship, and capitalism at work.  Later, when we did make some purchases at the University’s bookstore, he was shocked at the bill.  Welcome to the world of a college bookstore!

   College major textbooks costs

After a welcome from the employee in charge of that day’s orientation, and one from the University’s President, the “kids” were sent away to get their photo id’s taken, and to pick out their first semester classes.  We parents were sent  to listen to 3 different presentations: Career Center and what is it’s purpose in your college student’s life, Counseling Center on facing that empty nest, Rules and Regulations the University has about drugs, alchohol, etc. and the consequences that will happen if bad decisions are made by your student.  My only quibble with the Empty Nest video, is that it sort of assumed that this was either the first child you’ve ever sent off to college, or that it was your last or only child, and you’d be going home to an empty house.  Ha!  I laughed at that, as I still have 3 at home to finish raising when August 17th rolls around and it’s moving the Freshmen into their dorms day at Truman.  I did raise my hand when the gentleman leading this session asked if any of us had advice, and I mentioned that if this child is leaving siblings behind, you may have to also deal with the siblings’ sadness at the older sibling being gone from the home.  The gentleman did thank me for bringing that up and reiterated what I pointed out-be ready to deal with sad little brothers and/or sisters.

Lunch was nice, even though the kids had lunch somewhere else on campus, away from us parents.  We witnessed a fun presentation from the Academic Team, who were helping the freshmen  choose the right classes for their first semesters.  After lunch, it was off to  3 more presentations: What a liberal arts education encompasses at Truman, Accepting your student if they come home with different beliefs, etc., and lastly, the on campus health clinic nurses gave us all the pertinent info we needed as to how they treat sick students, getting those vaccinations updated, sending in the requested medical forms, etc.  All three of the presentations were well done, but the middle one, I’ll be praying that our son stays true to how he was raised and to his faith as he studies to reach his career goal.

As I emerged from the lecture hall after the nurses’ presentation, there was my son.  He’s so tall now!  He had planned his outfit for the day, looking bright and eager and a bit nervous, just like all the students I saw on this day, walking the campus with parents in tow.  Since my first day at Rolla Jr. High is the same day our son moves into his dorm at Truman, hubby and I decided we’d do this go round as a tag team: I’d accompany son on Freshmen Orientation Day, and hubby would take son to the move in the dorm day for Freshmen.

Son wanted to visit his dorm, to see a double room sample, and then walk from the dorm to the buildings where his classes will be held.  His schedule, no classes until 10:30am M-F, I told him don’t be surprised if that’s the only semester where he will be able to sleep in.  Then we went to the bookstore, made some purchases, drove to a local Chinese restaurant for dinner, and then we drove  to Rolla and home.

Summing up, Truman State had a well-planned  orientation event.  My son got to do what he had to do in getting started with his college coursework, I got to hear more about a liberal arts education.  I also was reminded that a lot of Truman students are smart, usually ones who didn’t have to study much in high school and when they get that first bad grade at Truman on a test or quiz, be ready to talk sensibly to them, reassure them, and remind them that now they know how hard they’ll have to work to get the grades they want to achieve.  My son left with a good feeling about what he’ll be experiencing at going to this college, and I did too.  Truman State, I give you two thumbs up!

Lessons Learned on the Current

With our 4th child’s high school graduation looming on May 27th, hubby wanted our family of 9 to go on an outing, or on an adventure, if you will, as we were all gathering that week for the big event on Friday.  Since child #3 recently began his chef career, and only has Mondays off,  hubby chose Monday, May 23rd as the day for our family to canoe and kayak down part of the Current River.   Ozark National Scenic Riverways

We live in South-Central Missouri, at the foothills of the Ozark Mountains.  The Ozarks are filled with a lot of spring-fed rivers and streams, which are popular for canoe, kayak, and float trips; a float trip is just that, normally done in the height of a hot, humid Missouri summer, one gets into a large inner tube, and just floats down a river. The Current River, which we traveled on, is part of the Ozark National Scenic Riverways, part of the National Park Service.

I awoke early that Monday morning, getting up at 5:00 am, and as I do when worried about something, I prayed that morning,  that we’d be able to successfully do this activity, that no one would drown, that we would all have great memories from this event.  With our older kids approaching their mid -20s, and our youngest 13, who knows how many vacations we can actually all gather together for in the future?

We left at 8:00 am and got to the canoe/kayak rental business-Jadwins-by 8:40.  Soon, we were all fitted with life jackets, handed our paddles, and climbed into our watercraft,  Hubby and I in a canoe, each of our 7 kids in their own kayaks.  When I say kayak, I don’t mean the traditional type where there is a “lid” or cover over one’s legs.  These kayaks were made of a heavy plastic, and our kids sat down in their kayaks, with a preformed chair back that they could rest their backs against.  We left the shore of the Current River at 9:00 am.  By 9:05, the first of many capsizes happened.   Current River rapids

We had brought a Rubbermaid tote box and lid with us, and it held the picnic lunch, and some other items we didn’t want to get wet.  We also brought another waterproof backpack to hold sunscreens, and a package of bottled waters.  Luckily we were always able to save these items whenever the capsizes happened.  The water that day was ice cold-it took my breath away and I couldn’t speak!  Our trip soon took on a pattern.  We’d be paddling along fine where the river was deep, with calm waters, and a gently curving channel.  However, when the rapids appeared, with shallower, clear waters, and lots of logs jutting part way into the channel, or large brush piles, one of us would get stuck, in these water “hazards” and then capsize.  We’d all work together and grab gear as it was being swept downriver, help the capsized person(s), get to a sandbank, and rest for a few minutes.  Then we’d get set up again, and off we’d go.

We did manage to eat the picnic lunch around noon on another sandbank.  At this point, I let out a few tears and complained to my hubby how this event was stressing me out tremendously and not at all fun and relaxing like I thought it would be.  Watching one’s kids capsize, get trapped by logs and brush, is not a fun sight to see.  We were all getting very tired, and realized that some of the kids belongings did manage to get swept away to never be seen again by us: an extra t-shirt, a water bottle, various slip-on sandals, and hubby’s prescription sunglasses.  I recalled that the canoe rental worker who had driven our family to our launch site had said that as we approached a bridge downriver, to get out at that area, 4oo ft. from this bridge, as there were culverts closer to the bridge and one didn’t want to get sucked into one.  I began a mental mantra,”Get me to that bridge!”  I think some of our kids began the same mantra.  After we got back on the river,  the paddling did go better, the river seemed to lose some of it’s hazards, and by 2:30, we saw the bridge.  A “Hurrah!” broke from our ranks as we saw the bridge and we made a beeline to the shore.  There were some picnic tables at that spot on the shore, and we could see a wide path that had been made in the surrounding woods to a roadway.   We had been advised by Jadwins to portage our equipment near the bridge in order to get to the other side of the river.  With only hubby wanting to go on, the rest of us informed him that we were tired and ready to stop for the day.  We agreed that if none of us could get a cell signal and call Jadwins to pick us up at the point where we were, then we’d go on down the river.  Luckily, oldest daughter was able to get a signal, and we were picked up 20 minutes later, after portaging our equipment to the roadway and the awaiting Jadwins bus and trailer.

After hearing about our troubles on the river, the canoe rental employee did mention that the river was 6 in. higher than normal due to all of the recent rains.  He also added that it’s not for the faint of heart or novice canoers/kayakers.  After we got back to civilization-aka Salem, MO, we went to the local Wal Mart for new slip-on sandals.  Then we went to the Pizza Hut for dinner-sitting in that restaurant and eating that pizza had never been so appreciated by me, before!  We then went to my hubby’s co-worker’s hunting cabin that we had signed up for to spend the night at.  With a thunderstorm ushering in the night, we all turned in.

Looking back now at our adventure, I can say I am proud of my family.  During our time on the river, whenever someone paddled into difficulties, the rest gathered round and helped.  No one yelled at anyone, or belittled those who kept having troubles manuevering.  Many hugs were given and at the restaurant, all agreed that memories had been made this day.  Psalms 127: 3-4 mentions what a blessing children are to a family.  From the NIV translation: “Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from Him.  Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth.  Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them.”  Re-reading that verse and with how our children reacted to one another and to their parents during our Current River trip cheered me as to our family’s love and loyalty for one another.  Looking back, a stressful day for me, yielded a wonderful view of my family in action.

Coming Full Circle with Special Education

After homeschooling our kids from kindergarten to grade 7, and with child #4 graduating high school and going off to college this year, my husband informed me that our budget needed for me to go back to work.  So I dusted off my teaching certificate, and have begun the process of securing a Missouri teaching certificate. In the meantime, I also began to substitute teacher for our local school district.

 

My going back to work  meant the end of homeschooling our youngest child.  For various reasons, we chose to homeschool our kids for grades K-7, and then let them begin attending school in the 8th grade and continuing on until graduation.  Our youngest was going to begin public school for the first time in the 7th grade, and the Middle School requested he take some tests to establish his grade equivalencies.  We agreed and were a  bit downhearted when the testing showed our son was behind in one subject area.  It was recommended he repeat the 6th grade, which we didn’t want him to have to do.  We countered with we felt he could succeed in 7th grade with our help, and if the school felt he needed Special Education in that one subject, then we would agree to that plan.  Thus, our introduction to the world of Special Education began.

 special ed chalkboard

I discovered that the Special Education teachers and their assistants genuinely care for the students put into their charge.  The IEP(Indidualized Educational Program) created for our son  worked excellently for him.  At the last parent-teachers conference for the school year, I learned that having our son attend Special Education class was a nice “cushion” for him to fall back upon as he became acclimated to the ways of how a public school runs.  The program also proved beneficial in that our son aquired new skills in this subject and is now on grade level.  In fact, I was told that he probably doesn’t need the extra help when he enters 8th grade.

A couple weeks ago,  I received a phone call asking if I was available to substitute in  one of the elementary school’s Special Education classrooms.  I agreed as it meant now I would get to observe a Special Education class in action.

The classroom I was directed to was two classrooms; they were entered by two doors on two  connected hallways, and there was a doorway between the two classrooms.  The two classrooms also shared their own bathroom.   Instead of individual desks, students sat at tables with chairs around them.  Colorful posters decorated the walls, some with inspiring messages, and some reviewing the points of good manners.  There were colorful, cloth covered baskets containing picture books, grouped according to reading levels. There was a  bookcase containing chapter books of award-winning children literature books and  another containing all of the teacher textbooks and a student textbook for the main curriculum used at the school for each grade.   Ipads and headphones, were in evidence, to be used for rewards if assigned work was completed; since the majority of students coming to the Special Education room for help were boys, the popular ipad game was sending a motorized  vehicle into outer space, and then watching it land.

After helping with some lunch and recess duties, it was officially time to work with a Special Education student.  The boy walked in presently, probably of average size for his grade.  He walked stiffly, a bit slowly, I noticed.  I wondered if he had a slight case of cerebral palsy, which may have explained his stiff movements.  As he walked into the room, he introduced himself to me, and before I could tell him my name, he flung his arms around me and gave me a strong hug.  What a sweet child, I thought.  He selected a book from a basket and asked me to help him read through it.  The other Special Education aide reminded him that he had to read it mostly by himself, and then that when he finished it, one of us  would read it with him.  Then, if there was time, he could take his comprehension test on the book.  His  reading of the book was fine, and I only had to guide him on a few of the longer words; I told him what the unfamiliar words meant.  Soon it was time for this student to go back to his regular classroom.  I did get to see him once more as he had to get ready for an early bus pick up, and since part of my job was to get the early bus riders to the foyer of the school building, this student suddenly needed to visit the restroom and he immediately grabbed my hand and asked me to walk him to the bathroom in the Special Education classroom.  While he was in that bathroom, I got to observe the main Special Education teacher work with a kindergartner who was pacing the room and probably unwinding from his day, and watch her aid another student with a vocabulary worksheet.  It struck me that in the Special Education room, the teacher and the assistants work one on one with only a few students, which in a way is similar to a homeschooling lesson in that a homeschooling mom often is teaching her students one on one, or in a small grouping.

As I walked down the hall with the boy who had had to visit the bathroom, he once again reached for my hand.  He peppered me with questions, as we walked the halls back to the foyer to await his bus.  He mainly wanted to know if I’d be back at his school the next day, in the special education room.  I explained to him that since I was a substitute teacher, I went to a lot of different schools and that perhaps I’d be back another day, but I didn’t know if I’d be back as soon as the very next day.  As he waved good bye to all of us Special Education aides in the foyer, and walked stiffly to get onto the bus, I began to think about this  boy’s future.

Young girl wearing a dunce cap.

Young girl wearing a dunce cap.

When public education began in the United States (1821, in Boston, Massachusetts), students who struggled with learning were probably punished and/or ridiculed; teachers hitting students with rulers across the opened hand, or the dunce cap worn by the student as they were made to sit in the front of the classroom, facing their classmates.  My guess is that many of these students dropped out and their obtaining a full education didn’t happen.  Jumping to the mid-1960s, President Johnson(a former teacher himself) signed the Elementary and Secondary Education Act which established the beginnings of Special Education, however it really didn’t begin to take off and expand until the 1970s.

So, on  one hand, this boy that I worked with, will have a stigma to battle at school.  That stigma placed upon him by his classmates of being one who has to leave the regular classroom daily and get special help.  However, on the whole, it means he is being given a chance to succeed, which many years ago, wouldn’t have been possible for him in a school setting.

With this week being known as National Teacher Appreciation Week in the United States, my hats are off to all teachers and especially to the Special Education teachers who with immense patience, diligence, and caring, are giving their all so students can succeed.   Special Education teacher

Number 4 Child Will be Flying Away Too Soon!

May 27th, 2016, will be an exciting and monumental day for our family.  Baby #4, our 3rd son, will be graduating from Rolla High School.  The maroon graduation robe is hanging in his room, hooked on top of the curtain rod, and every time I walk by his open bedroom door I am startled, as it looks like a figure is standing there, from what my

peripheral vision is seeing!   HS Graduation

Memories of this son’s childhood come flooding back to me a lot lately.  Without getting too personal, he was the easiest delivery, he potty-trained himself, and taught himself to read at age 4!  He just picked up our collection of Dr. Seuss books, and while I was homeschooling his 3 older siblings, he’d sit with those books on his lap and just figured out reading.   I also remember how this child liked to be a contrarian.  If the sun was shining and I said, “What a nice day out,”  he’d be quick to retort that it was a cloudy and stormy day!  When his siblings couldn’t wait to get out into the snow and sled or make a snowman, he was content to stay in the warm house.  I’ve always told him it won’t surprise me at all if he chooses to live in the Southern U.S. where snow and frost and ice are rare.

Truman State

Truman State University is his future spot for higher learning.  He wants to be a doctor and with the hard work he has put in at school to earn all A’s, plus all of the extra curricular activities where he has helped lead, the scholarships have been a wonderful reward.  He has mentioned wanting to work in the future with Doctors Without Borders, but for a pre-med student, that goal is a long ways off.

Fox and the HOund

This is my son who loved to watch Disney’s animated movie, The Fox and The Hound.  Over and over and over again, he’d ask to watch this dvd.  Of course, I’d let him as it meant a chance for me to tackle household chores uninterrupted, but I did get a bit tired of hearing it play on the tv.  I think a few days before he departs for college, I will have to pop this dvd in and watch it with him, and add in a big bowl of popcorn, and I might need the kleenax box nearby, too.

Before the final good-byes as he departs for this next chapter of his life, I hope he will know how proud of him his father and I are, how much we love him, and how rich our lives have been from God blessing our lives with him 18 years ago.

Two Helicopter Landing Pads at Mark Twain National Forest?

Near Rolla, Missouri lies the Mark Twain National Forest.  It’s one of 155 such designated forests in the United States, the forests falling under the jurisdiction of the US Forest Service and the USDA.  The forest is 1.5 million acres and most of it is located in the Ozark Highlands.  It covers 29 counties in southern Missouri and represents 11% of all forested land in the state.  Named after favorite son and famous author, Mark Twain, the Forest was set aside as a protected area in 1939.

MTNF

I was somewhat surprised when I was reading the Rolla Daily News on Feb. 19th when I  learned that the U. S. Forest Service wants to build 2 helicopter landing pads, or helibases, in the National Forest, in Phelps County.  The article went on to state the acreages of the land needed for this project, and the types of buildings that will also be needed along with the helibases; 140 acres of forest to construct several landing sites, buildings for the pilots and other air staff,technology,etc.  The Forestry Service wants to be closer to the forest in fighting wildfires, listing that as their main reason for wanting to build this complex.

 

MTNF 2

The Forestry Service presents the information in the newspaper article as a done deal, doesn’t mention how many  millions of dollars this project will cost, and near the article’s end, mentions that they are required to ask for the public’s comments until March 14th concerning the two helipads.  For those citizens of Missouri who want to send their opinions about these Helipads: 1.  One can mail a letter to the Houston/Rolla/Cedar Creek Ranger District, 108 S. Sam Houston Blvd.,  Houston, MO 65483.  Attn. Mark Hamel.  2. Fax your opinion to Mark Hamel, Integrated Resource Analyst at 573-364-6844.  3. Or send an  email to: comments-eastern-mark-twain-houston@fs.fed.us   and include Helibase Development Project #48670 on the subject line of the email.

MTNF 4

My opinions about this project? I have several.  The current helipad that is in use for the National Forest is at Rolla’s airport in nearby Vichy, MO.  Wouldn’t it be less costly to add the additonal technologies, another landing pad, and another building or two at an already exisiting airport?  Trees wouldn’t need to be knocked down, and with the University of Science and Technology next door in Rolla, couldn’t the university be consulted, professors and students be utilized, in coming up with green energy ideas for  the current Vichy site?  I think using taxpayers’ dollars in the  most cost-effective way possible is always a good thing to strive for, I think keeping the helipad and building a new one at the Vichy site is a win for the city of Rolla, I think not cutting down forest in a National Forest is a good thing, and I think utilizing the University for any help they could supply would also be beneficial.

MTNF 3

Here is the article from The Rolla Daily News, article written from Staff Reports.

 

Sole Hope-A Worthy Endeavor

In the Book of Matthew, Jesus related a very strong visual of what the day of judgement would look like.  He relayed how the people of all the nations would be divided into two groups, much as a shepherd divides up the flocks into  the sheep and the goats; the sheep on His right hand side, the goats on His left.  He tells those on His right that they are blessed and they are to enter into their inheritance.  “For I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat,  I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.” Mt. 25:35-36.   The righteous are puzzled by Jesus’s announcement.  They ask when did they see Him in such need? Jesus reminds them that whenever they did something to meet the needs of their fellow man, that they were also serving Him.

A thought provoking passage, to be sure.  One that is good for self-introspection.  How are we doing at serving our fellow man, woman, or child in need?  Sunday, I had an opportunity to do just that, working alongside a wonderful organization, called Sole Hope.

Sole Hope began a few years ago when Asher Collie was perusing the internet for more information on international adoptions.  She found a Youtube video about the horrors of jiggers, the parasitic chigoe flea of Sub-Saharan Africa.  These fleas burrow into the flesh of unsuspecting humans, the feet the most common site of the attack.  After burrowing in, the flea lays eggs, which cause infections, horrible sores, difficulty in walking, and if left untreated, can lead to fatal conditions such as gangrene, and sepsis.

The images from the video stayed with Asher and she shared her concerns to her husband, Dru.  Something had to be done to combat this horrid medical issue, and that’s where Sole Hope was born: creating shoes for the people in Uganda in order to protect their feet, provide medical clinics to help those infected, and education classes in order to help the Ugandans know how to protect themselves from these fleas.

Sole Hope hosts shoe preparation parties and that was the event I was invited to at my church, Greentree Christian, in Rolla.  8 pf us ladies  divided our efforts into 3 different groups of activity.  Some of us cut apart the donated and washed blue jeans-cutting away the hems, seams, front pockets, and waistband in order to leave behind the main leg material of the denim.  Another group took the cut denim and laid onto it the patterns for making the shoes upper parts, tracing the patterns onto the denim.  The third group cut the pattern pieces out and then pinned them together as a set.  These would then be mailed to Sole Hope’s headquarters in Uganda, where locals there make the shoes.  Another good idea that has stemmed from Sole Hope’s work is that in Uganda, bicycling is a thriving mode of transportation, however when one’s bicycle tires wear out, it’s not uncommon to toss that tire off of the road, out into the brush.  Sole Hope has been able to collect these unwanted tires and has found a company that can recycle the tires into the soles of the shoes being made.

It was a small effort on my part, but I had an enjoyable time working with the other ladies at the Sole Hope Party, and it was nice to think that my small effort could have a good and larger impact on people who would truly benefit from pairs of shoes.

If you are intrigued about Sole Hope and what they are about and trying to accomplish in Uganda, then click on this link and learn more.http://www.solehope.org/gallery/      The included gallery is a montage of pictures of Sole Hope in action in Uganda.

 

Affluenza and Ways to Innoculate your Kids!

I had a wonderful Christmas break.  Time with my family, gift-giving, good food to eat, and getting to sleep in a bit each day.  Now that 2016 has arrived, it’s time for me to jump back onto my blogging site so here is my first post for this new year.

I enjoy watching the old tv show Perry Mason.  My family rolls their eyes, but I do catch them at times following along with the plot of the show.  The other day, even though the episode was from 1961, it could have been torn from today’s headlines: a rich, spoiled young man who behaved rudely to all, an insensitive jerk, was murdered.  Take out the murder in the Perry Mason plot, and it reminded me of the sad saga of the “Affluenza”  afflicted young man from Texas, Ethan Couch.

Perry Mason logo

Actors Bryan Grant and Torin Thatcher, as the spoiled rich kid and his enabling tycoon father, Season 5"s The Case of the Unwanted Bride

Actors Bryan Grant and Torin Thatcher, as the spoiled rich kid and his enabling tycoon father, Season 5″s The Case of the Unwanted Bride

I don’t know Ethan Couch.  I don’t know his parents.  What I do know about he and they is what I’ve heard and read in national news reports.  It was on June 15, 2013, in Texas,when Ethan Couch was driving while intoxicated.  He lost control of his vehicle.  Unfortunately,  a group of people happened to be standing on the side of the road with a disabled SUV.   Four people were killed when Couch plowed into them and crashed into the SUV.  Two people in Couch’s vehicle were badly injured.   In total, 9 people were injured in this crash.  The nation took notice when in December of 2013, the judge ruled that Couch would receive 10 years probation and ordered him to a place of long-term therapy.  Couch’s defense attorneys argued that the young man had “Affluenza”, meaning that since Couch had lived a life of luxury, that he wasn’t raised with any discipline and  really didn’t know right from wrong, that therefore he didn’t understand that his actions can have consequences.  Many people in the U.S., when they heard about this defense, shook their heads in disbelief.   Couch  made the news recently, along with  his mother Tonya, because they were both in Mexico, Ethan living it up with booze, drugs, dancing girls, and he missed a probation meeting.  Missing that meeting meant trouble for Couch; violating his parole agreement.  His mom, Tonya, is also in trouble for aiding her son in going to Mexico  and hindering the police in the apprehension of a felon, her son.   Here is a link from CNN that goes over all of this mess of a situation.

There are so many lessons to be learned here but I’ll try to keep it to just a few.  Parents, one has to raise ones kids with discipline!!!  Now, I’m not talking about punishments for clumsy accidents, like spilling a glass of milk or knocking over a potted plant or leaving the lights on in the kitchen after everyone else has gone to bed, but I am talking about discipline being needed when your child out and out sasses back at you, disrespects your parental authority, tells you NO!  That can’t be overlooked or ignored.  If your kids can’t show you respect, then that means they won’t show respect to any other adults they meet in their life.

Ethan Couch is from a wealthy family.  This fact made me think about another weatlhy  American family, the Rockefellers.  It was a couple years ago on American Experience, a show on PBS that I watch from time to time, and  the episode was  about the Rockefeller family.  What impressed me was that John D. Rockefeller Jr. had 6 kids with his wife Abby, and while they lived in a fabulous home in New York state, he insisted that his children be assigned daily chores to do and that they receive an allowance based on if they got their chores done or not.  This was a super wealthy family!  John Jr.’s father, John D. Rockefeller Sr., founder of Standard Oil, had a net worth of $336 billion dollars!!  Yet his son, was careful to raise his own 6 children to know how to work, and how to earn money, and how to give it away.  John Sr. was also known to have given $500 million dollars away through his lifetime to various philanthropic groups, colleges, etc.  I have a sad suspicion that the Couch’s probably didn’t assign their son many chores to do.  It is a good idea to train kids in helping with household chores and when they get to be teens, having them find a part-time job.  Our teens have worked part-time jobs and it has benefited them in money management, in making purchases for items that they have wanted, and in getting along with the public-be it customers, bosses, or co-workers.

John D. Rockefeller Sr. with his son, John D. Jr., daughter-in-law, and 6 grandchildren.

John D. Rockefeller Sr. with his son, John D. Jr., daughter-in-law, and 6 grandchildren.

Discipline, respect for one’s elders, knowing the value of a dollar, knowing the value of doing good work, knowing the value of giving of one’s funds cheerfully-these are great ways to innoculate your kids from developing “Affluenza”.

 

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