The Mixed Bag of Lessons from My Father

Those of you who read my blog somewhat often know that I don’t usually share anything very personal from my past unless it’s positive. However, this year, due to timing and other factors, I am changing that with this post. If you’re not interested in hearing about my somewhat traumatic childhood or long-deceased father, skip this post! If you are, read on.

If you’d like to leave comments, you are welcomed to do so below this post, on my site: http://wp.me/p2bP0n-1HM [If you leave comments anywhere else that this post may appear (when it’s reblogged or cross-posted), I probably won’t see them very soon, if at all.]

The Mixed Bag of Lessons from My Father

My father died in 1991 at the age I am right now: almost 62. It seemed young even then, when I was only 37. Now, it’s appalling.
Here he is at about the age I was when he died:

Ira 1959
Ira Fleischmann, age 30

Dad died of a massive heart attack while playing doubles indoor tennis. He “was dead before he hit the ground,” according to the three doctors he was playing with at the time. They know this because he fell face forward and hit his forehead but never put out his hands to catch himself in the fall.

Because he had always been a coward about his health and avoided doctors, he died from what was actually a treatable condition (blocked arteries). We found out later that he had been having chest pains for months prior to that and hadn’t done anything about them.

My three siblings (ages 26 – 38 at that time), my dad’s third wife (age 48) and elderly parents (90 and 91), his sister (57) and others in our family and his friends were shocked at his early demise. Understandably, some of us who knew that he had avoided the doctor’s exam and that his death was likely postponable were also angry.

Know this:

FACT: 200,000
At least 200,000 deaths from heart disease and stroke each year are preventable.

FACT: 6 in 10
More than half of preventable heart disease and stroke deaths happen to people under age 65.
from http://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/heartdisease-stroke/

We became even more frustrated with him when we found out what a mess he had left his financial affairs in and how much his third wife would have to do to clean it all up. Ironically, even though he had sold life and other insurance policies for most of his life, he had cashed in his latest life policy to get quick cash (he was always short on cash) and died without any insurance. He had not only had made no provisions for his demise, but left no Will, either.

We spend the first few days after his death in a haze of mourning but needing to make many decisions. We ended up arguing about basic stuff:
—should there be an autopsy?
—should he be buried (my observant Orthodox Jewish brother insisted on this) or cremated (the rest of us, including his wife, knew that this was what he had talked about wanting)?
—what to do with the chaos of his home office, files, obligations, etc.?
We worked most of it out, but found out some disturbing facts along the way.

We found hundreds of business cards with some other man’s name, which turned out to be our dad’s alias (a mash-up of his two deceased uncles’ first names). The false name of this business and a local address were on letterhead and there were a few other “clues.” We opened file drawers and a desk drawers and compared notes: our dad had had a secret, alter ego, including another “business” of some type, complete with a fake office nearby.

My sisters and I, in a whirlwind of semi-hysterical giddiness and grief, put on our trench coats (literally) and slunk around to peer into this office’s windows: practically empty. No one was there or appeared to have been recently, but his fake name was on the door. The desk and chair looked unused. Nothing else was in this small room: mail drop only. For what? We knew we’d never find out. This was 1991, before Al Gore gave us the full internet, before Google, etc., and we had no money to pay to investigate in ordinary ways, so the trail ended there.

fraud scrabble

It took almost a year for his wife to make sense of the rest, pay off his numerous debts, settle some lawsuits (he was the defendant or the plaintiff in several). Even though she didn’t have to, she decided to disburse from what was left to us, his three children. It wasn’t much, but we were grateful.

We found out a few years later that our dad had purchased some oil wells in Illinois in the 1970s (yes, there are some!), when we siblings each received a notice about being his beneficiaries: where did we want to have the checks sent? Yippee!? Again, not much, but something.

So much for his financial legacies.

What else did I get from my dad? It was definitely a mixed bag, just like his financial detritus.

Planning for Death
It is cruel and selfish to one’s descendents and mourners to leave one’s affairs unsettled. Since none of us knows when or how we will die and we all know that death and/or incapacitation can happen quite suddenly and unexpectedly, there is no excuse for leaving these things undone when one has children, spouses, property and/or businesses.

The deceased one’s lack of preparedness causes what is already difficult (grieving a sudden or unplanned-for death) to become complicated, making the grieving a longer and more arduous experience for all mourners. Unwinnable arguments, hurt feelings, misunderstandings, and vying for power, money, possessions, property and decision-making victories can take up the time we should be spending in simple grief and storytelling amongst us.

no Will
image from http://news.mdl.com.au
Dying Intestate (without a Will)= BAD

Lessons: Prepare for your death NOW
Because of the mess my dad’s disorganized death left, my son’s father and I responded. We both immediately signed up for a small life insurance policy and wrote our Wills when we got back home (our son was 10 at that time). I made sure I signed up to be an organ donor. We wrote our “Living Wills” so others would know our wishes should one of us become incapacitated and we each assigned a healthcare “Power of Attorney.” I have continually updated these documents and my list of whom to contact and what to do in the event of my death and for the disposal of my remains, any service to be held, etc.

Swimming
Our dad taught me and my brother (13 months older than I, so we did most early learning together) to swim when we were three and four, something I always loved from then on. I trained to and became a lifeguard and swimming instructor as an older teen and ran several waterfronts at summer camps as an adult, training lifeguards and teaching swimming myself. I was fortunate to have had intermediate and advanced swimming lessons every summer while a camper and I appreciated passing those skills on to other campers as I got older.

I developed a love of all places watery and being in the water from my dad. I had many years of jobs at summer camps because our parents sent us to them every summer—starting with the same camp, Camp Hawthorn, which I’ve written about on this blog—that he had attended as a child!

LESSONS: Water Love
I still swim many times per week, right here in St. Louis where I grew up, at the same Jewish Community Center where he taught us to swim (but a recently constructed pool replaced the old one). Because I’ve had many injuries to both legs and my back, swimming is my main exercise.

I have loved and swum in dozens of lakes, several oceans and probably a hundred pools around the world.

DSCF0013
I am lovin’ my sister, Ellen’s, backyard pool in California, 2013

Abuse and Strength
Our father was often an angry, impatient, intolerant, mean and frustrated person. He had been raised with physical and verbal punishment and passed those horrible habits onto my brother and me (mostly just us two oldest kids, because our younger sisters are very much younger). Our father beat up on us regularly, usually for no legitimate reason (most abusers operate that way), e.g., the TV was “too loud,” we weren’t moving quickly enough, we said something he didn’t like, we were tussling with each other too much, etc.

Our dad also yelled at us and our mother a lot and called us all terrible names. He was both physically and emotionally abusive for all my childhood years. When we got older, he focused on hitting my brother but pulling my very long hair. When he got violent and was looking for a target—any target—, I would tell my little sisters to lock themselves in our bathroom. I’d stand between him and that door, letting him pull my hair and slap me to distract him from going after them.

As soon as I got my driver’s license, I’d take them with me rather than leave them at home with him and my mom, who was very ill a lot of my high school years and not much help. They tagged along to visit my friends as we went to movies or listened to music. I took them to play rehearsals and other activities to avoid having them be at home with no one to protect or supervise them.

Luckily, Dad started having tennis matches (and affairs, we found out later), and was mostly out of the house a lot by the time we were in high school. After one extremely violent episode on the eve of my brother’s leaving for college, my mom finally threw him out. It was the beginning of my senior year.

My ACE (Adverse Childhood Experiences) score is very high, mostly due to my father. A high ACE score has been connected to causes of a myriad of other physical and mental health problems well into adult life, some of which I do have.

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
ACE (Adverse Childhood Experiences) impact
from http://www.npr.org

LESSONS: Lemons into lemonade
I developed tremendous courage, intolerance for abuse, the ability to stand up to anyone, any time. After growing up with and surviving an abusive parent, I would never be intimidated by anyone else.

I vowed never to be like him in those areas. I went out of my way to practice meditation, get counseling and incorporate anger management techniques. I also learned to use many “positive discipline” methods while raising my own son and being a teacher of young people. As a master teacher, I supervised and trained dozens of others and helped them learn the positive discipline techniques I had honed.

I am proud to say that I have never hit my child (who is now 36) or any other child. Furthermore, I intervened whenever I witnessed physical abuse or when I saw that hitting was imminent in public or private places. I do not call children or teens derisive names, nor do I put up with anyone else’s doing it.

I was on the board for a local child abuse prevention task force. I learned and then taught creative conflict resolution techniques and mediation. I also taught parenting classes, mentoring many teen, bio, adoptive, foster and step-parents to help them become more positive and to curtail / end any incipient habits of abuse.

I became an advocate for those being abused. For example, I intervened once when I witnessed several police assaulting a teen and then testified at his trial to get his (bogus) charges dropped. After they falsely arrested me to try to intimidate me out of making a formal complaint against them, I filed a lawsuit which I won. Those assaulting officers were reprimanded and fired. That police department then changed the ways they trained, supervised and managed officers in the field from then on.

Music
My mom and both her siblings and her mom, my dad’s sister and many others in our family were amateur musicians of sorts, mostly piano players or singers. My dad had “flunked out of” his piano lessons, according to him, but he had a great, operatic tenor and loved to sing.

I grew to hate opera because of my associations of his abuse with his favorite music, but I began to play the piano and sing along with many songs and loved music from a very young age. Our dad took us to the symphony a few times (I usually feel asleep, though).

Because of my dad’s commitment to music education, my and my siblings’ love of music was educated (but I still do not like opera, hip-hop, twangy country, bluegrass, free jazz or rap). He paid for my and my sisters’ piano and my brother’s drum lessons and arranged for us to have his own piano teacher to teach me and my sisters for our first years.

Mrs. Rosenblum was ancient, to my young eyes (probably in her 60s!), and a harsh task mistress, but classically trained and very skilled. I became a gifted sight reader due to her tutelage. I won piano competitions and played complicated pieces in her annual recitals, from ages 9 – 16. From ages 16 – 18, I learned theory and improvisation from a different teacher, the talented Herb Drury, who also had his own quartet (my dad also paid for that).

Because of my accomplishments and talent, I was selected to be the accompanist for rehearsals and the annual school musicals in 11th and 12th grades (a great honor). I also sang and accompanied in several of the school choirs as a teen and in/for many community and women’s choruses as an adult.

After I graduated college, I used the small amount of money left to me by my great-grandmother to buy my first piano, one I kept and moved over a dozen times to five different states. I took piano lessons for one year during my first year as a teacher, since I lived alone and had time to practice.

I enjoyed being a paid or volunteer accompanist, musical director, piano teacher and chorus member for most of my adult life. I also have written more than a few songs, am mid-stream in writing a musical (still festering my my files…), performed in and musically directed/accompanied several musicals and cabaret shows and continue to enjoy teaching (rarely) and playing piano.

Closeup of a child's hands playing the piano. Horizontally framed shot.
from http://www.huffingtonpost.com

LESSONS: Music rocks!
Music is a connector: more than a few of my lovers were musicians and/or singers and so is my son, who also composes. His father also plays several instruments and so do many of my friends and all three of my siblings. Music is a language: when I have trouble expressing or finding meaning in some extreme or complicated emotional states, music helps me understand my own and others’ experiences.

Playing piano, especially sight reading, uses both “sides” of my brain. Putting my fingers on a keyboard my son sent me and making music have helped me in my recovery from a Traumatic Brain Injury (from about two years ago).

When my sisters and I get together, we often sing. My son and I have had a lot of fun with “kitchen opera” (the only kind of opera I like), improvising lyrics and melodies as we cook or clean together.


My dad’s later years and my early adult life
Having worked for decades with youth and families, parents and professionals who work with youth in a variety of capacities, both educational and therapeutic, I know that my negative experiences are not even close to “the worst.” I have heard so many horror stories that it puts the difficulties of my life into a proportional perspective. Some of my childhood memories are actually quite positive.

Sally Dad Jon 1955
I, our dad and my brother, 1955, Clayton, MO

At this point, I do not deny the problems my father and his problems caused us, but I have grown to appreciate and be grateful for the good things he did provide. I am resilient and stronger due to a lot of help from other adults and friends. I have developed enormous empathy and compassion for others’ pain. I understand many of the conflicts that arise between parents and children of all ages.

For most of my college and early adult years, my dad and I were estranged to a large extent. I didn’t see him very often and we almost never talked on the phone. My sisters were little when he moved out (6 and 11), so they had the whole divorced parents-visitation-dad’s girlfriends things to contend with that my brother and I never had to do since we were already in college when our parents’ divorce came through.

Occasionally, Dad would send me a check for some odd amount (he liked to round off his checkbook running total to all zeros) with no note. Sometimes I’d rip that up, even though I needed the money. I was angry and hurt, unwilling to connect solely over money.

He remarried twice. The first time was when my brother was in medical school and I had just graduated college. He skipped my graduation, but he invited me and my brother to join him and his new wife, with our current dates, at a resort in New England (where my brother and I were both in college) later that summer. I didn’t want to go, but my brother said we had to. That experience was very weird. We played a lot of tennis and ate too much food; that’s about all I remember. The wife was unremarkable.

On the few occasions I did go to St. Louis during their brief marriage, I remember Dad’s being almost the same as when I had lived with him: he was frequently yelling at this woman’s three kids, calling them names, being horrible. I was disgusted.

At one tense dinner, the oldest (a girl) had left the table in tears due to his name-calling. I followed her into the hallway and stood next to her as she cried. When she was a bit calmer, I told her (from the vantage point of my ripe old age of 22 to her 11) that he was a horrible man and that he had been horrible to me and my brother, too. I then said that I’d stand up for her and that she should call me if he ever hit her or her brothers.

I don’t know what I would have done about his abuse of her and her brothers at that time (I didn’t know about child abuse hotlines, if there even were any in Missouri in 1977), but I do know that I would have appreciated it if ANYONE in my family or among my parents’ friends had ever offered any of us an acknowledgement of his abusiveness, any emotional affirmation of the trauma we were suffering, any kind of lifeline like that; no one ever had.

Luckily for those kids, my dad and their mom divorced soon after that visit.

My brother and his wife had their first child in 1979, a year before we had Merlyn, and then they had another one about a year and half later and two more in the next seven years. Our middle sister had her first child in late 1989. Both my sister-in-law and I took had privately taken Dad aside early on and told him, in no uncertain terms, that if he ever yelled at or laid a hand in anger on any of our children, he’d never see them again. He must have believed us, because he never lost his temper with any of the grandchildren.

Throughout the 1980s, my dad loved his 6 grandkids and enjoyed spending time with them. He happened to be visiting when my son was just learning to walk: Merlyn ran/fell into my dad’s arms as he took his first independent steps in August, 1981. Precious.

For his third marriage in 1986, he married a woman with three daughters around my sisters’ ages who was the same age as Merlyn’s dad. That was creepy, but we liked her all right. We later found out that this wife was an active alcoholic who almost immediately went into recovery soon after they got married.

Because of his wife’s personal recovery work, in the last few years of our dad’s life he had begun his own therapeutic journey. He went to some Al-Anon meetings, read some books relevant, talked with her and others.

During her senior year, my youngest sister, Lauri, went to live with them “to get to know our dad better.” Our mom had also remarried a few years prior to that and she didn’t much like her husband or being the only child at home (my middle sister was finished with college and living in California by then), so those were her other motivating factors. She reported during and after that year (1984) that Dad was starting to develop some insights into his own issues and kept his temper better around these teens (only two, Lauri and her youngest, were living at home): no hitting and very little yelling.

I participated in peer counseling (Re-evaluation Counseling, known as “RC,” and then Co-Counseling) from 1979 – 1986 and then had about ten years of regular therapy, starting in 1986. I also kept meditating, attended many other rituals and personal growth workshops and generally began to understand, heal and assimilate the consequences of my childhood’s traumas.

Due to both of our being involved in personal growth work and the mellowing effect of his having grandchildren, my dad and I were finally—very tentatively—having a more connected, positive relationship. This was helped by my living in New Hampshire and his still being in Missouri (distance and very few visits were key).

Dad at Stern wedding 1989
Ira Fleischmann, age 59, at my sister, Lauri’s, wedding, 1988

In the summer of 1990, we were visiting Dad and his wife (as well as my mom and her husband and other family) in St. Louis. My brother and his family still lived there (he had been doing his medical residency at a local hospital). At my dad’s condo’s complex was an outdoor pool. Merlyn and his cousins were frolicking with my brother and Merlyn’s dad in the pool while my dad and I relaxed in the shade on chaise lounges, drying off after our swim.

Suddenly, my dad looked up from the book he was reading on co-dependency and family problems to say, in a surprised and completely unironic tone: “Oh my God! I grew up in a dysfunctional family! Do you have any idea what that’s like?”

I was so shocked at his lack of awareness, I almost lost my breath. But, I could see that he was authentically having this insight for the first time. I didn’t want to discourage him.

Using my most neutral tone, I responded mildly: “I think I have some idea, Dad.”

He nodded and went back to his book. That was one of our last conversations.

In January, 1991, both of his parents, then in their early 90’s, were celebrating their birthdays. The entire extended family gathered in St. Louis to honor them. Unexpectedly, our dad died about 7 weeks after that reunion, so we were very glad that we had had that time all together.

Dad and Sarah at grandparents BD 1991
At the last family reunion, January, 1991. Counter-clockwise, from bottom left: our youngest sister, Lauri Stern; Ira Fleischmann with his youngest granddaughter, Ellen’s oldest, Sarah Miranda Kneeland; Dad’s sister, our Aunt Nancy Levin; her middle child, cousin Hillary Levin.

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What Matters

What Matters

As I approach my 62nd birthday (August 22), I reflect on the news stories I see/hear almost daily, now, that corroborate and validate most of my life’s choices, values and beliefs. Sharing, now, so you don’t all have to re-invent the wheel. Mostly I/we were right. Get with it.

Interactions matter. Treating all humans with respect and meeting humans needs (food, clothing, shelter, meaningful and well-paid work, safety) properly are right. Equality, egalitarianism, acceptance, compassion, kindness and respect are the right ways to greet, treat and live with all others, regardless of perceived or actual differences among us and changes in circumstances. Ending oppression, discrimination, bias, prejudice and all forms of subjugation must occur.

RespectKindness
image from http://www.tomvmorris.com
Respect

Government and economics matter. Democracy (when it works) and socialism are right: we must listen to and take care of each other.

Conflict resolution matters. War is wrong, especially war that only makes profits for a few corporations and individuals and ruins land, kills/maims people and destroys economies for everyone else. All the “police actions”/wars the USA has engaged in since World War II (and some of our actions during World War I and World War II) were/are horribly wrong. Millions have been harmed or died for NOTHING except to enrich a few. We must learn to communicate better, de-escalate, use diplomacy, engage in dialogue, compromise and yield.

Give-peace-a-chance-no-more-war1-e1442090350987
image from http://www.popularresistance.org
Peace

Health matters. Eating healthfully and organically is right: better for us, better for the farmers, better for the environment. Contact sports that cause head injuries must end: change the rules or close down those sports completely for children and teens and give adults information that allows them to make educated choices about participation. Sugary foods and drinks, salty and fatty snacks and other negative-impact foods should be made less available and/or taxed very highly so fewer people can eat/get them so readily.

Other beings matter. Treating animals with respect at all times if we are going to use, eat (which some would argue is wrong), imprison and otherwise subjugate them (less stress and pain during and before slaughter, while being raised and during captivity of all kinds) is right.

Consumers’ choices matter. Choosing to purchase items that are made by people who are paid well, treated well and free to come and go is right. Choosing to purchase items whose production (harvest/manufacture/acquisition) does not harm or destroy the planet, the economy, or the people involved is right.

you-can-make-a-difference
image from http://arabedrossian.org
Healthy planet

Parenting requires time, effort, knowledge, education and support to be done well. Childcare can be a positive aspect of young children’s lives as long as they also have good parenting.

Minds and bodies matter. Meditation, yoga, stress management, play, listening to each other better, being outdoors more and learning/listening to music/making art all help families, businesses, schools and individuals in every possible way. Beauty, nature and gratitude are important. Learn/include and do these. Drink a lot of clean water. Sleep more and in better conditions.

healthy body and mind
Healthy choices

Reproductive freedom and rights are integral to a woman’s dignity and independence and are the business of no one else besides each woman and her chosen medical team.

Religions whose leaders or principles restrict the freedom or impinge upon the safety of or intend to demean anyone, inspire divisiveness or hatred, or foment disrespect for non-believers or some members of their own sects because of gender, age, sexual orientation or other characteristics are not to be tolerated any longer and must be ended.

BigotryLifestyle550
image from http://www.patheos.com
Civil and personal rights

Facts are not subject to opinions. No one cares what anyone thinks about facts. Facts are not optional. People who misunderstand, misuse or misguide themselves or others regarding any facts (about the impacts of climate change, the dangers of fracking, etc.) are not to be given any credibility or listened to by anyone with even moderate intelligence.

Tyson quote
Dr. Neil Degrasse Tyson, Ph.D., facts quote

Play time matters. Violence begets violence: video games, TV shows and films, music lyrics that demonstrate/engage users in repeated and frequent incidents of violence (personal, sexual, group) desensitize the viewers/players and generate much more violence overall in the culture. Games/shows that degrade women/girls and depict members of particular ethnic or other groups as “the enemy” or the objects of degradation cause users/viewers to adopt these perspectives and behave badly towards these individuals in actual encounters. Children’s and teens’ time using these games or watching these shows must be curtailed. Bring back more outdoor play, longer and better equipment for recess play indoors and outside. Sports and games that encourage coaches/leaders to discriminate among, exclude or otherwise demean participants or activities in training or play that cause players harm must be changed or stopped.

recess
Play

Excellence matters. Skills, talents, education and intelligence are not all equally distributed or acquired. We are not all the same even though we are to be treated with equal respect. Not everyone wins. Everyone is not equally good at everything. Not everyone can earn an “A.” 49.9% of any group is below average, by definition. Get used to it.

Collaboration matters. Governments, organizations/groups of all types and businesses of all sizes operate more successfully when they utilize collaborative, inclusive engagement rather than hierarchical, exclusionary dominance do better economically, have higher morale, have lower attrition/crime rates and better attendance/participation.

collaboration-background4
image from http://www.cptwebs.com
Collaboration

I could have provided a lot of research URLs to back up each of these claims, but I don’t need to, any longer. They are all true. YOU do the research.

You need to reorganize your life if you are outsourcing your #dating activities

I saw this actual ad on Craig’s List in St. Louis:

Dating Expert 10 Hours a Week (work from home)” was the headline.
He also offered: “compensation: Great! telecommuting okay.”

The ad copy, exactly as it appeared, is in the block quote, below. I decided to respond, which follows.

I am a 30 year old busy executive with a New Year’s resolution of meeting my “dream girl.”

I work full time in corporate America and I simply don’t have a good way to meet available women.

I signed up for match.com more than a handful of times in the past and have met some really great women along the way. I found that it required a significant amount of time to both search for the type of women I was interested in meeting as well as spend the time actually writing back and forth.

I am at the point now where I would like to hire this out rather than continuing to fool with it myself.

So you, my ghost-writer would create a profile for me on a variety of dating sites such as Match.com and OKCupid.com and Fling.com. to search out both casual encounters and long-term relationships. You would ultimately ask some interview questions of me to figure out who I am and what I am about, gather all information necessary to complete the profile including bio, likes and dislikes, relationship goals and photos.

We would share a gmail account and a google voice line. You would search out and find the type of women I am interested in meeting, email them something witty and creative and get them interested in me.

You would then continue the dialogue with them via text message and email up to the point where they are really ready to schedule a date. You would then check my calendar (also on google) where you can see my free and busy times. You would schedule the date, pick the place, the whole nine yards.

I would then get an email from you outlining the discussions with them and a copy of their profile.

Once the date is scheduled I would go and see if there is a connection…

To figure out if you are a good fit for this job please email me a cover letter explaining why you will be a good fit. Also develop a profile for a stereotypical A-type personality executive for match.com. and a profile for Fling.com. Write 10 examples of opening emails that could be used generically to email potential mates.

Please provide also your salary requirements for 10 hours per week of work. Please use subject line of “CL mail expert”

I emailed this young man the following message:

SUBJECT: You need to reorganize your life if you are serious about getting involved with someone

MESSAGE:
Hi,

I am not applying for your job. I am a parent of a son about your age and I have to tell you this: if your life is so busy that you don’t even have time to have a conversation (via text or otherwise) with potential dates, your life is too busy to have a meaningful, satisfying relationship. That is the truth.

You need to reorganize your life if you are serious about getting involved with someone. It is NEVER going to be a good idea to “outsource” your important relationships, such as intimate partner, parent, or your other significant connections to actual humans.

Really.

Best to you,

Sally

super busy
image from http://www.baggagereclaim.co.uk

Any other opinions? Comment here! Email him yourself! mqxx9-4814518745@job.craigslist.org

Apply for the job:
http://stlouis.craigslist.org/wri/4814518745.html

We Should All Contribute to Raising All Children

“Man with 25 kids with 15 different women refuses to pay child support” accuses the New York Daily News‘ headline last week. http://goo.gl/9ufQGT

In this story are pathetic vignettes from two or more of this man’s sexual partners who became pregnant with and claimed to have had children with him, all the while ignorant of his other …. 20, 21, 22, 23, 24 children….? Even though this man’s problems with not paying child support had made him Tennessee’s statewide largest “deadbeat dad” in 2012, he still found willing partners and impregnated at least three more women since that public designation.

This scofflaw was known for “driving flashy cars and throwing cash around,” since he apparently owns several nightclubs, then “dressing in rags and claiming poverty” when brought in front of judges whose prosecuting attorneys are apparently too incompetent to do proper research on this man’s net worth.

All I can think about are these 25 children, probably growing up without sufficient resources, continuing the downward cycle, ad infinitum. Multiplied by thousands, hundreds of thousands, millions world-wide, imagine all these children inadequately provided for, however that occurs.

UNACCEPTABLE.

Crying4.jpg

image from http://reason.com

My conclusions and recommendations:

  1. We humans are unable to sustain this system successfully. We will not survive as a species.
  2. We apparently are too stupid, incompetent, ignorant, selfish, misguided, unlucky and/or unable to make intelligent choices and raise children with sufficient support.
  3. We as a species must make it mandatory for ALL humans to contribute to the well-being and support of ALL minors.

Boom.

better children

image from http://jokeallucan.blogspot.com

  • Forget going after individual bio parents, grandparents, foster parents or adoptive parents who have reneged on their parenting duties and/or financial responsibilities.
  • Stop trying to collect “child support” from the uncollectible.
  • Admit that it’s hopeless: we can’t instill parenting skills or knowledge via “parent education” into the addicted, severely mentally disabled, recalcitrant, unwilling or arrogant.
  • Stop relegating youth to the “luck of the draw” for the parenting lottery.
  • End these philosophies that govern current legal and cultural practices: “Oh, your mom is a meth addict? Too bad.” “Oh, your dad is in prison? Tough break.” “Oh, your parents are dead? Oh, well.” “Oh, your parents are mentally ill? We’ll put you in foster care.”

No.

We as humans must figure out a way to reproduce more responsibly AND to raise and educate children more fairly and competently.

In addition, we have to make it impossible for any child to go without basic amenities, food, clothing, education, nurturing and appropriate discipline and structure due to the deficiencies of their birth circumstances.

No government should be allowed to continue to be in power, even to exist, which does not ensure that all young people are well-fed, clothed, housed and educated.

If we continue to assign children to their “fates” based on their bio parents and other environmental circumstances, the caste- and class-based failure we call “society” will continue to populate (privatized, for-profit) prisons with inmates. We will continue sending addicts to rehabilitation centers, keeping them stocked with recurring “patients” that fill the coffers of insurance companies but cure almost no one.

What happens when millions go without sufficient food, medicine or clothing? Earth produces hundreds of millions, probably billions by the end of 2025, with bellies filled mostly with rage.

What fuels terrorism and crime? Dissatisfaction and alienation.

What creates affiliation to community? Fairness and caring.

It costs almost eight times as much to imprison an individual as it does to educate him/her all the way through high school.

costs prison v education CA

image from http://www.safeandjust.org

You do the math.

Let the corralling of the incapable into parenting end now.

The “nuclear” family is, by and large, unsustainable, a failure, with circumstances getting worse for children every decade.

Model childraising on the Kibbutzim, the collective childraising communities in Israel.

  • Put competent, caring, educated, healthy, trained and willing adults in charge of children.
  • Allow all minors to have contact with any safe adults, but not solely to rely on their bio or legal guardians/parents for their upbringing.

biloy-em-hahorim

image from http://www.judaica-hamsa-jewish-star-symbols-and-meanings.com

Let’s level the “playing field” for all young people. Give them all truly equal opportunities.

Comments/questions? Movements? Ideas?

Anyone already have a charity or nonprofit devoted to supporting ALL children?

Tell me about it. I might be able to help start, organize, or publicize these efforts.

SOMETHING major has got to change. For the children. For the species.

We Should All Contribute to Raising All Children

“Man with 25 kids with 15 different women refuses to pay child support” accuses the New York Daily News‘ headline last week. http://goo.gl/9ufQGT

In this story are pathetic vignettes from two or more of this man’s sexual partners who became pregnant with and claimed to have had children with him, all the while ignorant of his other …. 20, 21, 22, 23, 24 children….? Even though this man’s problems with not paying child support had made him Tennessee’s statewide largest “deadbeat dad” in 2012, he still found willing partners and impregnated at least three more women since that public designation.

This scofflaw was known for “driving flashy cars and throwing cash around,” since he apparently owns several nightclubs, then “dressing in rags and claiming poverty” when brought in front of judges whose prosecuting attorneys are apparently too incompetent to do proper research on this man’s net worth.

All I can think about are these 25 children, probably growing up without sufficient resources, continuing the downward cycle, ad infinitum. Multiplied by thousands, hundreds of thousands, millions world-wide, imagine all these children inadequately provided for, however that occurs.

UNACCEPTABLE.

Crying4.jpg

image from http://reason.com

My conclusions and recommendations:

  1. We humans are unable to sustain this system successfully. We will not survive as a species.
  2. We apparently are too stupid, incompetent, ignorant, selfish, misguided, unlucky and/or unable to make intelligent choices and raise children with sufficient support.
  3. We as a species must make it mandatory for ALL humans to contribute to the well-being and support of ALL minors.

Boom.

better children

image from http://jokeallucan.blogspot.com

  • Forget going after individual bio parents, grandparents, foster parents or adoptive parents who have reneged on their parenting duties and/or financial responsibilities.
  • Stop trying to collect “child support” from the uncollectible.
  • Admit that it’s hopeless: we can’t instill parenting skills or knowledge via “parent education” into the addicted, severely mentally disabled, recalcitrant, unwilling or arrogant.
  • Stop relegating youth to the “luck of the draw” for the parenting lottery.
  • End these philosophies that govern current legal and cultural practices: “Oh, your mom is a meth addict? Too bad.” “Oh, your dad is in prison? Tough break.” “Oh, your parents are dead? Oh, well.” “Oh, your parents are mentally ill? We’ll put you in foster care.”

No.

We as humans must figure out a way to reproduce more responsibly AND to raise and educate children more fairly and competently.

In addition, we have to make it impossible for any child to go without basic amenities, food, clothing, education, nurturing and appropriate discipline and structure due to the deficiencies of their birth circumstances.

No government should be allowed to continue to be in power, even to exist, which does not ensure that all young people are well-fed, clothed, housed and educated.

If we continue to assign children to their “fates” based on their bio parents and other environmental circumstances, the caste- and class-based failure we call “society” will continue to populate (privatized, for-profit) prisons with inmates. We will continue sending addicts to rehabilitation centers, keeping them stocked with recurring “patients” that fill the coffers of insurance companies but cure almost no one.

What happens when millions go without sufficient food, medicine or clothing? Earth produces hundreds of millions, probably billions by the end of 2025, with bellies filled mostly with rage.

What fuels terrorism and crime? Dissatisfaction and alienation.

What creates affiliation to community? Fairness and caring.

It costs almost eight times as much to imprison an individual as it does to educate him/her all the way through high school.

costs prison v education CA

image from http://www.safeandjust.org

You do the math.

Let the corralling of the incapable into parenting end now.

The “nuclear” family is, by and large, unsustainable, a failure, with circumstances getting worse for children every decade.

Model childraising on the Kibbutzim, the collective childraising communities in Israel.

  • Put competent, caring, educated, healthy, trained and willing adults in charge of children.
  • Allow all minors to have contact with any safe adults, but not solely to rely on their bio or legal guardians/parents for their upbringing.

biloy-em-hahorim

image from http://www.judaica-hamsa-jewish-star-symbols-and-meanings.com

Let’s level the “playing field” for all young people. Give them all truly equal opportunities.

Comments/questions? Movements? Ideas?

Anyone already have a charity or nonprofit devoted to supporting ALL children?

Tell me about it. I might be able to help start, organize, or publicize these efforts.

SOMETHING major has got to change. For the children. For the species.