Tag Archives: parenting

Convince me to believe…REALLY???

DSC08752

By Kenneth Justice

~ Last week at coffee a forty-something mother and her 17ish daughter were sitting next to me. Their conversation kept spilling over to my table and from what I gathered the daughter was lobbying to go away to college…..on the other side of the country, and the mother wanted her to stay in-state where the two parents could keep a closer eye on her,

But mother! I’m going to be eighteen years old, it’s time you trust me and let me be an adult” said the young woman.

I don’t know the girl or the mother, so I really don’t have much of an opinion on the whole situation. What stood out to me after I left the coffee house was that it’s really difficult to get people to believe;

—-) A friend of mine who cheated on her husband is still married, but he struggles with believing her all the time now. He often wonders if she is lying to him about where she has been and what she is doing.

—-) When people find out that I believe in God, I almost inevitably get the question, “So Kenneth, convince me why I should believe in god

—-) Politicians run on platforms asking us to believe their promises, and so often it is difficult to trust what they say to be true

Sometimes belief has to do with trust. Merely learning to trust someone is a big part of friendships and intimate relationships. My Uncle Bob always told me, “Kenneth, trust is something earned, it’s not a gift you can freely give to others”. Perhaps there are exceptions to what my Uncle Bob said, but for the most part I suspect that it applies in many different situations.

But not all belief is about trust. Sometimes, belief is merely something you arrive at against all odds. Sometimes believing in something or someone defies all logic and sensibilities. Sometimes believing has less to do with trust, and more to do with our hearts; it is like a little seed that is planted, and merely needs the right environment of sunshine and rain in order to sprout up from the ground.

Our Western minds have a tendency to want everything put together in neat little packages. Unfortunately we are organic beings, and dare I say spiritual beings; and who we are as human beings means that things are often going to be rather messy. Our lives are not going to reflect The Andy Griffith Show. More often than not, our lives are going to be a chaotic bubble of emotions, thoughts, and reflections that send us spiraling into a great many avenues…..and that is okay.

As Blatant Neon Ion says, “Nobody who is great, was ever perfect”, then again, perhaps there was one person……

Just a few thoughts as I sipped my coffee this morning,

Kenneth


His life is out of control…REALLY???

DSC08933

By Kenneth Justice

~ Yesterday at coffee a mid-fortyish mother and her teenage daughter came in to grab a quick coffee-fix on their way to the daughter’s volleyball practice, the mother was talking loudly into her cell phone,

I can’t do Monday because Andrea has a volleyball game and Tuesday and Wednesday won’t work either because I have to drive her to dance classes, I could fit you in on Thursday around 7 pm in-between her piano lessons and soccer practice as long as we’re done no later than 8:15 because I have to pick her up early so she gets to bed on time since we are leaving early Friday morning for the basketball camp she is in for the weekend

Whew! Soccer, basketball, dance, piano and basketball camp; sounds like an all-American suburban summer. I must be old school because I remember my summers as a youth being pretty lame and quiet; squirt gun fights with my friends, horsing around in the swimming pool, and playing pickup basketball with the kids in my neighborhood.

Obviously there is nothing wrong with people or parents that enjoy filling up their schedules with endless activities and places they drive their children to and fro; it’s up to each person to figure out what works best for their life…RIGHT??? There’s no right or wrong way to raise your children…is there???

The older I get the more I realize that telling a parent they should reconsider how they are raising their children is an easy way to get that parent pissed off; nobody wants to be told they are doing something wrong. My Uncle Bob used to tell me, “When the truth is first presented it is almost always initially rejected”.

Nonetheless, it’s not really my place to tell people the ‘right’ way to raise children. If you want to enroll your children in 10 different extra-curricular activities it’s not an issue of morality; it’s merely a choice that you’ve made.

I suspect that a lot of us confuse choices with morality. There’s nothing inherently moral or immoral about many of the choices we face in life;

—) What kind of automobile you purchase

—) Where you decide to live

—) Whether your children play organized athletics or not

—) What time of vocation you work

I’ve talked with a lot of people who feel guilty about the choices they make on an everyday basis. One woman told me she felt guilty if she stayed home instead of hanging out with her friends; “I feel like I’m a bad person if I tell my friends I don’t want to hang out for the evening” she said.

So often in life we are quick to infuse morality upon situations where morals are not really at play. And even though I’m not a big fan of children being enrolled in so many different organized activities; it’s not an issue of morality, but rather it’s merely a matter of perspective.

Just a few thoughts I had while drinking my coffee this morning,

Kenneth


The truth is out there…REALLY???

DSC08927

By Kenneth Justice

I was sitting at coffee the other day with a forty-something parent of two teenagers who began griping to me about their children’s behavior,

My daughters are SO rebellious!” she said

Although I can’t go into all the details of the conversation, suffice to say that to this exhausted mother, being “rebellious” constituted listening to music that the parents didn’t approve of, wanting to date boys (gasp! the horror! imagine teenage girls wanting to date boys!) and talking back at the parents in a disrespectful attitude.

The mother was convinced that it was a fact that her teenagers were being rebellious. Yet as is often the case when it comes to family drama, the truth is much murkier than appears on the surface,

—-) I happen to know that this particular family loves watching movies and many of the favorite films of this mother are romance comedies which often involve girls dating boys

—-) I happen to know that this particular woman loves quite a few rock bands and her husband is into old 80’s hair bands

—-) I happen to know that this particular woman does not have a perfect attitude and tone; she often speaks in a less than cheerful attitude toward others

So suddenly, when we look at the context in which these teenage daughters are living; to suggest that they are being rebellious, when really they are nothing more than normal teenagers living in Western society, under the roof of imperfect parents who themselves listen to rock music, watch movies that involve dating and sex, and talk with imperfect attitudes also……the voracity with which the parents believe their children are being ‘rebellious’ seems a bit overreaching.

Some parents want to exert a lot of control over their teenage children and demand total compliance from them even if that compliance is often contradictory to the way in which the parents live their own life. Thus, to suggest that adult children are being rebellious, when in reality they are doing nothing more than imitating the lifestyle of their parent brings into question what the word ‘rebellious’ even means!

The truth is out there but often it is shaded in grey rather than being quite so black or white. There are things that we believe about life, people, government, and society which we cling to as bottom-line facts, but more often than not when we begin looking at these people and situations in different contexts and from alternative perspectives, the truth becomes a lot less stark.

Does this mean we can’t ever know what ‘truth’ really is; not at all. What it does indicate is that we would all be better off being a little less emphatic that we know the truth ‘beyond the shadow of a doubt’ and learn to demonstrate a little bit more grace towards others.

Just a few thoughts as I sipped my coffee this morning,

Kenneth

 

 

 

 

 

 


Forty years of silence…REALLY???

boston 11

By Kenneth Justice

I haven’t talked with my mother in 40 years” he said

 

~ Over the course of 200 coffee houses I’ve visited this past year, I’ve ran into a number of different high schoolers who told me they couldn’t wait to move out of their parent’s house,

—) “My dad is so controlling, I can’t wait till I’m old enough to live on my own” said a 16 year young man

—) “My mom gets in my business all the time, she’s always putting her nose into things that are none of her concern” said a 17 year old young woman

—) “My step-father is a jerk. He treats me like shit and the minute I’m legally allowed to move out I’ll be gone” said a 16 year old young man

We’ve all heard the Proverb, “Familiarity breeds contempt” and in many of these cases involving tension between parents and children, or family members in general, I suspect an element of the problem is that we all tend to grind on each other’s nerves when we live in such close contact with loved ones. Unless we live in the White House, most houses aren’t big enough to give us the arm distance we need at times in order to have a break from the relatives that are driving us nuts.

Yet of all the people I’ve met this past year who complained about her parents, it was a 64 year therapist in Atlanta whose story stood out to me the most,

My husband and I are both practicing psychotherapists here in the Atlanta area. We are successful, earn well above the national average in salary, have a beautiful house in an nice neighborhood, are respected members of our community and serve on a board at our local church…..yet despite all that I haven’t talked to my parents in 41 years” she said

While the narrative the psychotherapist told me is rather long, the jist of the story is that her parents are the type of people who are ‘right about everything, nothing is good enough for them and they are always either finding fault with me, my husband, and couldn’t go one conversation without telling me how something I was doing was wrong” she said.

Forty one years seemed like an awful long time to go without a word between her and the parents and when I asked her if she ever tried to contact them in all that time she emphatically said no, “my parents have periodically sent me letters telling me what an awful evil person I am, that I have failed them as a daughter, and that because I have cut them off it means I am destined to hell. So the answer to your question is no, they are still clearly not at a place where they are able to respect the fact that I’m an adult and am no longer answerable to them as a little child”.

She’s 64 years old and her parents still don’t respect the fact that she’s an adult…..wow! How old does one have to be to be treated like an adult by your parents?

While conflict between relatives isn’t necessarily something that everyone can relate to; conflict in some way, shape, or form is unavoidable;

—) Managers and bosses who talk down to us or treat us like little children

—) Co-workers or relatives who gossip about us

—) Customers or clients who are unreasonable and treat us with contempt

The list is positively endless regarding everyday conflict situations and anyone who has been a teacher, worked in customer relations, been a barista at a coffee shop, or held political office knows only too well the types of conflict that show up in various forms at the drop of a hat.

What differentiates the type of conflict one might experience in a work setting versus a family setting is the very simple phenomena of familiarity; people who don’t know us as well often demonstrate a higher level of respect towards us in the midst of the conflicting situation. It’s the people whom we are closer to that are the most likely to use more vitriolic language towards us and to disrespect us the most.

At the height of his ministry, Jesus was waltzing around Canaan like a modern day Rock Star; he was being received with massive amounts of joy and excitement everywhere he went; he was like John Lennon and the Beatles showing up to the Ed Sullivan Show.…..and then he decided to go to his hometown. Talk about a deflating experience; the people in his hometown treated him like shit, “Isn’t this the punk kid who was the son of that carpenter?” the people said. These were the people who’d known him since he was young, they watched him grow up, and they merely thought of him as just another boy from neighborhood; they didn’t respect him at all.

~ A prophet is without honor in his own home ~

Often times in life it’s our parents, our siblings, our relatives, and our close friends who respect us the least. We can have obtained worldwide fame and massive amounts of intellectual success, yet to those people closest to us we may never be nothing more than that punk kid they remember us as when we were younger.

I just ignore them” someone told me recently. A mid-thirtyish young man explained to me that he gets along rather well with his parents because he simply ignores their overbearing ways, “They are hardcore fundamentalist Christians and think they-know-it-all. If they aren’t telling me what type of sin I’m guilty of lately, they are telling me about one of my other siblings or cousins or relatives and how they are in sin. It’s a never ending pit of my mom and dad bashing people behind their backs; but I’ve learned to just ignore them. I smile, I don’t say anything, and we get along great”.

While being stupid and cheerful is a tactic that might work in keeping the peace between us and grumpy family members; I often wonder what type of relationship it truly is if all we are ever doing is suppressing our feelings and ignoring the nasty behavior of those closest to us. Can we really say that we have a ‘great relationship’ with our parents or siblings if we are suppressing what we really think and feel about their behavior and who they are as individuals?

Ultimately, conflict sucks. Listening to parents or anyone grate on our nerves can get old after a while. Arguing with people tends to only perpetuate the problem. Being stupid and cheerful might work temporarily but after a while I wonder if it doesn’t end up having a negative effect on our own psyche since all we are really doing is bottling up our true feelings toward people. Nonetheless, we will never truly be able to hide from conflict; it has been a part of the human experience since the dawn of time and will stick with us till the very end. So what are we to do? How do we deal with all these difficult people?

Unfortunately I don’t have all the answers, I do have a nice cup of coffee in front of me, and I think it’s time I finish it,

Kenneth

 


Whisper in thunderstorms…REALLY???

boston4

By Kenneth Justice

~ On a recent trip to the East Coast I was sitting at coffee and noticed a late 20ish young woman sitting nearby who was raining a torrential downpour of tears. She was sitting with an older woman that I presumed was her mother and for the better part of an hour bits and pieces of their conversation kept flowing over towards my table,

—) “I thought we were gonna be together forever

—) “How could he do this to me?

—) “He’s such a damn self-centered pig

—) “I’ll never trust another man in my life

I’ve had my share of disappointments in life and I can totally relate to someone who is in the midst of a major life thunderstorm. At times it has felt that every time I turn around another massive catastrophe is right around the corner and I can remember wondering to myself, “will my life ever be good again or am I doomed to nothing more than an existence of sorrow?

The human experience is filled with so much pain and suffering at times; death, divorce, cheating, rebellion, hatred, malice, war, the list is endless. I can’t imagine what it must be like to grow up in places like the Middle East or war-torn Northern Africa where war and famine are always lurking around the corner. Yet just because you and I may not have to face a pipe bomb going off at our neighborhood café, the struggles we go through are nonetheless just as relevant and worthy of attention as the circumstances of people across the globe.

When I was younger I bought into the idea that life is supposed to be a fairy tale. Maybe it was one too many Disney films or all of the happy ending fairy tale books I read as a child, yet somewhere between nine and nineteen I developed an unrealistic idea that in order for my life to be good, everything needs to always turn out the way I expect it to turn out. Sadly, that belief has filled much of my life with unneeded sorrow.

—) I’ve suffered from depression and anxiety at times and felt that my life was awful because of those emotions that pulsated through my veins

—) I’ve had to deal with tremendous amounts of sorrow when various relatives betrayed me

—) I’ve had to struggle with disappointment when major life goals of mine evaporated into thin air

More often than not life has not been picture perfect for me, but rather it’s been filled with one thunderstorm after another….but that is okay. In recent years I’ve begun whistling a different tune and I’ve come to some startling realizations; it’s in the midst of life’s thunderstorms that we find the greatest measures of peace.

In the Tanakh there’s a story about a dude named Elijah who is instructed to climb a mountain in order to hear the voice of God,

Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.

While I don’t possess a PhD in biblical literacy, I believe there’s a simple truth that flows through the story; it’s once we’ve endure the earthquakes, storms, and fires of life that we are able to hear the gentle whispers.

Perhaps I am wrong, but I no longer believe that life is supposed to be peachy keen. I no longer believe that when tragedy strikes it’s the end of our life as we know it. Whether it be a fractured relationship, the death of a loved one, or being fired from a job, each of us has a choice before us; we can allow the thunderstorms of life to swallow us up, or we can endure the earthquakes with patience and resolve and when the fire dissipates I truly believe it is then that we will hear the gentle whisper that comes afterward.

Too often we end up focusing on the storms and it leads us to mental exhaustion. Perhaps we are lonely, sad, depressed, sick or something else. In the midst of life’s thunderstorms it’s easy to lose track of the things we are thankful for, it’s easy to become swallowed up by earthquakes and fires. Yet it is in the midst of what we believe to be tragedy that we must look up toward the mountain, to take those small steps forward and slowly climb the treacherous slope, because the gentle whisper only comes once we’ve navigate to the top of the mountain.

Have faith….the best is yet to come.

Just a few thoughts as I sipped my coffee this morning,

Kenneth


“I missed my damn plane!” REALLY???

DSC08880

By Kenneth Justice

God I hate my life!

~ I was sitting at an airport terminal on Friday and the mid-30ish woman sitting next to me was clearly in a bad mood,

Not having a good day?” I asked

Not at all!” she said, “I got to the Airport two hours before my flight was supposed to leave and after I went through security I figured I had plenty of time to sit and get a drink. So I had a couple cocktails, and then twenty minutes before my departure time I walked up to the gate and they told me that my plane had already left!

It seemed a tad bit strange to me that she missed her flight while she was sitting at the airport but as we talked longer it became apparent that she isn’t a regular traveler whatsoever. She was dressed in the typical yoga pants that so many women wear these days and had one of those circa-1980’s short-cropped hair cuts (think Madonna), “I teach spin class in Toledo, Ohio” she explained

Originally from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania she met a guy from Toledo ten years ago and her story sounded oh-so-familiar to a million other stories I’ve heard like it; her and the dude fell in love, he moved her from Philadelphia to Toledo, they had a couple children, fell out of love for a variety of reasons, and now she is divorced and stuck in a city that she doesn’t want to live in…..but she stays there so her children can finish out school and not feel uprooted from the only life they know.

I’ve only been officially divorced for less than a month and I’m still not used to this feeling. I feel like my entire life came to a halt and I’m starting all over….I’m nearly forty years old. It’s a strange feeling” she said

What stood out to me the most was the way she kept talking about Philadelphia and how much she missed her hometown….yet because of her children she had made the decision to stay in a place she hated.

It’s really tough because I associate so many bad things with living in Ohio; it took me away from my family and friends, and now with the divorce I feel as though I’m living in a hell hole” she said

In the past two months I’ve met a number of different people who’ve made major life decisions based on their children. The simple fact of the matter is that when you have ankle- biters it changes your life. Of course, nearly everyone I meet tells me that their children have made life better; but in the fast paced society we live in, it’s hard not to admit that children also complicate things.

The cost of raising children rises every year. The mere cost of gasoline being more than four times the price it was back in the 90’s has really hit our pocketbooks hard. After all, if you’re driving your child to school or to an extra-curricular activity, you’re paying a hell of a lot more than you would have paid twenty years ago.

Even worse is that it seems like Western Culture is becoming less-and-less child friendly. As computer technology, smart phones, and tablet computers begin to dominate every facet of our society; parents are spending less time in face-to-face connection with their children. A recent study found that parents who take their children out to eat in a public restaurant spend more time looking at their smart phone than they do looking little Johnny in the eyes.

As Western Culture becomes more disconnected in our interpersonal relationships I often wonder if the nuclear family is becoming nothing more than something we see in Norman Rockwell paintings; will we ever return to a time when families sit around the dinner table each evening? Will we ever return to a slower pace of life when parents sit out on the porch with their neighbors and watch the children play ball in the front yard?

I’m very sensitive about these questions because having traveled to Latin America quite a bit; I see a world South of the United States that is still clinging to a way-of-life that I only read about in storybooks. Latin America has held on to a level of community and connectivity that I am jealous of; they aren’t worried about scheduling friendships or setting up play dates. They live in communion and connectivity with their family and friends in a day-to-day organic way of life.

But of course, Latin America isn’t really at the forefront of shaping the world we live in. Fast paced Western Countries like the United States, Australia, and Great Britain are the ones setting the trends that the all the nations are adopting.

Just a few thoughts as I sipped my coffee this morning,

Kenneth

 

I met a lot of good people in St. Louis this past weekend and am very excited about arriving in Minneapolis this coming weekend! If you live in or near the Twin Cities I’d love to have coffee with you or even a beer! I’ll be at two coffee houses on Saturday or you can email me for more info.

 


“I’m not a porn star”…REALLY???

let me explain something to you

By Kenneth Justice

~“Look, I admit that I cheated….but can you really blame me?” he said

One of the more odd coffee conversations I’ve had with someone in recent years was with the early 30ish man who was in the midst of a messy marriage. After ten years of marriage and a couple children, he had cheated on his wife and then confessed to her of his misconduct; she kicked him out of the house post haste and quickly thereafter filed for divorce.

I had been faithful to her for the majority of the marriage but it got to a point where I was bored out of my mind” he said, “I have a huge sexual appetite but she won’t do anything! She’ll only have sex with me a couple times a month and if I beg her to do something other than the missionary position she simply barks at me, ‘I’m not a porn star!’

I had actually forgotten about the conversation with the man until this past week when a long-time friend of mine called me up. My friend was telling me stories about back when we were teenagers, it was one story in particular that stood out to me. My buddy was at a party where one of his friends was having sex with a young woman on the floor, “her head kept banging into my feet while they were doing you know what…..man that girl was crazy back then, she didn’t even care that there were other people in the room!” he told me

That young woman who lay on the floor having sex surrounded by other people would eventually grow up to be the married woman who would tell her husband “I’m not a porn star”…..and it would be her ex-husband who would sit with me at coffee lamenting to me how sad he was over the dissolution of their divorce.

Obviously the wife wasn’t the sole person to blame for the couple getting divorced. I would never suggest such a thing in a million years. I don’t know all the ins and outs of their relationship but from the little I do know there were many unresolved issues that each of them never really worked through and eventually the man’s infidelity was nothing more than the icing on the cake.

Yet putting aside the various personal issues related to why the couple got divorced, I couldn’t help but think about the way our past effects our future. The woman, before she married surely had no qualms about getting naked in front of other people; having sex in a room with other people in it pretty much declares that you’re anything but a prude.

Yet once she got married her sex life dramatically changed. Marriage of course changes us; whether it is the stress of having children, dealing with finances, or simply learning to live the married life. But maybe it wasn’t merely marriage that changed her view of sex; perhaps she associated any type of sex outside of the missionary position as ‘shameless’…..perhaps she viewed ‘sex’ as something she did in her ‘wild’ days and now wanted to try and forget her past.

Many of us made choices in our teens or early twenties that led us to doing things we aren’t necessarily proud of,

—-) Many of us drank a little too much or did a few too many drugs

—-) Many of us hooked up with one too many people

—-) Many of us threw away a lot of years partying or living life recklessly

And while on one hand it might seem easier to try and forget the past…..to hide it away and pretend that we never did ‘those things’. Hiding from our past can end up being the worst decision we could make.

Soren Kierkegaard wrote, “Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.” Essentially, if we try to ignore our past it can end up wreaking havoc upon our present; suppressing our past can handicap us in our present preventing us from moving forward in the maturation process.

One of the biggest problems with trying to ignore our past is that it squelches humility; when we forget all of the things we did when we were younger it can lead to us having a self-righteous attitude. There are a lot of parents in the world who hold their children to pretty high standards; standards that they themselves didn’t meet when they were younger.

It’s like the colloquialism about the horse, “The more you pull on the reigns the more the horse will pull”. You simply can’t overwhelm your children with never-ending lists of do’s and don’ts. There is nothing wrong with letting our children venture out and make decisions that we don’t necessarily agree with because we have to remember that it was all those things we did in our younger years that contributed to the person we are today. Sure, maybe we wish we had done a couple things differently…..but that is the beauty of life, it’s impossible to live perfectly.

I don’t know what happened to the woman who said she wasn’t a porn star. Does she tell her current boyfriend or husband that? I don’t know…..but some things are better left to the unknown.

For now I think I’ll have another cup of coffee.

Kenneth

—-In five days I will be in Atlanta for the first part of my U.S. coffee house tour. I’d love to have coffee with you! Check my homepage for dates and locations.

 

 

 


Another pregnancy scare…REALLY???

another pregnancy scare

By Kenneth Justice

~Yesterday morning I was enjoying a cup of coffee when a close acquaintance of mine plopped down beside me,

Kenneth, my girlfriend and I had another pregnancy scare last week” he said

Again? I thought we went over this last time we talked” I asked, it had only been a month or two prior when they had their first scare and I had asked him why the hell the two of them weren’t using some type of protection. They are both in their early twenties and in college. Each of them still live at home with their parents and they don’t want a baby at all. Of course, some people would believe that the two of them should practice abstinence but the chances of them practicing abstinence rhymes with hero; i.e. zero.

Well, I just don’t like using condoms and my girlfriend can’t go on birth control because of health reasons. And, I, uh, you know…I don’t you-know-what in you-know-where so I figured she can’t get pregnant” he said.

Dude, I already told you last time that she can still get pregnant even if you don’t finish that way…it seems like the two of you are being foolish” I said

I know we are. It’s stupid…we’re being young and stupid…but I just hate the way condoms feel and I guess I just figure she could always get a you-know-what if something happened” he said, not wanting to even say the word ‘abortion’.

We talked for a little while longer but it was obvious that he clearly knew the two of them weren’t being very responsible. And as we sat there talking, I couldn’t help but realize how much life had changed over the past generation. When I was younger (which wasn’t very long ago actually) you couldn’t walk through the halls of high school without hearing some message about ‘safe sex’….and putting aside my thoughts on the whole ‘safe sex’ campaign; what is going on in this world that young adults are so obsessed with the momentary (and fleeting) feelings of sex that they are willing to risk pregnancy when they are not ready for it at all?

One of the most famous slogans in my lifetime comes from Nike, “Just do it” and if ever there was a slogan that describes a generation of young people it would seem as though Nike’s definitely fits the bill.

—-) Just do it; don’t think about the consequences of pregnancy; you’ll be fine

—-) Just do it; don’t worry about overdosing on drugs; you’ll be fine

—-) Just do it; don’t worry about binge drinking at college; you’ll be fine

But perhaps the young adults are not to blame. Maybe the baby boomer generation and their parenting skills (or lack thereof) sowed the seeds that led to a generation of young adults who are so focused on seeking out pleasure in the here-and-now that they tend to make reckless decisions.

Obviously not all young adults act like this young man and his girlfriend; there are plenty of responsible men and women who make wise choices……but who best typifies the current generation?

—)  Is the average young adult someone who thinks before they act?

—)  Or is the average young adult more concerned with the way sex feels without a condom?

Don’t get me wrong, this article isn’t even about condoms. I’m neither advocating them nor shunning them…..but as I sit here in a coffee shop writing this article; at the table next to me is a young orthodox Jewish woman who is studying for an exam in her nursing program. The level of self-control she displays with regard to her decisions is pretty admirable…..barring a bizarre behavioral change, you won’t see her getting pregnant before she is ready and I can only think that it has something do with her parents, her family, and the culture she lives in that helps encourage her to be diligent and faithful in her life focus.

I’m only in my thirties but already I feel like I’m seeing life a little bit differently than I did in my teens; I remember when I felt as though a day was a like an eternity, that if I didn’t experience something now I may never do it……but now I’m starting to see things from a bigger perspective; I’m starting to realize there are consequences to the choices we make.

Did your girlfriend tell you that she would get an abortion if she gets pregnant?” I asked the young man

Uh, no” he said

So for all you know she could be against abortion and if she gets pregnant you’re going to be stuck with a kid” I said. He squirmed nervously in his chair as he knew that what I was saying happened to be correct; he just didn’t want to believe it.

Of course, many people might just shrug this conversation off, and to borrow the colloquialism; they would say that he is thinking with the wrong head. Yet unfortunately, I’m seeing a trend that goes well beyond the area of sexuality with the current generation and I wonder what the future holds.

For now, I think I will have another cup of coffee,

Kenneth

If you haven’t heard I’m currently on a national and worldwide tour of 100 coffee houses meeting readers, bloggers, and everyone else in between. Wanna have coffee and tell me a story? Wanna chat over a cup of coffee? Wanna tell me you hate my writing? I’d love to meet you! Check out my homepage for dates and locations.

 

 

 


Dirty looks toward stay-at-home-moms…REALLY???

stay at home

By Kenneth Justice

~“So this will be the last time I serve you coffee” she said

Yesterday one of the most liked barista’s at the coffee shop I hang out with completed her final day. After five years of working at the coffee shop she decided to give it up to be a stay-at-home mom, “I’m going to keep pursuing my schooling” she said, “Because I’d still like to be a teacher one day

Throughout the morning she greeted numerous customers with the same line, “Today will be the last time I serve you coffee, you’ve been a great customer and I just wanted to personally say goodbye to you

I couldn’t help but notice that each time she would say, “I’m going to be a stay-at-home-mom” a number of the patron’s gave her the raised-eye-brow-look as if to communicate, “Really, you’re just gonna throw your life away then?” ……and each time the barista ran into one of those kind of faces she always made sure to add the extra line, “This will allow me more time to pursue my schooling in order to become a teacher” as if one has to have an excuse for being a stay-at-home-mom (or stay-at-home dad).

Some of my favorite writers, authors, and bloggers are stay-at-home moms & dads so for someone like me it’s a bit annoying to see the typical attitude that so many people in Western Culture continue to display towards parents who decide to drop out of the work force in order to stay at home with their children.

To be honest, even if I didn’t have children; if I could quit working altogether I would do it in a heartbeat! To be able to stay-at-home and write whenever I feel like it, hang out with people, have conversations about life, pursue my hobbies…….it all kind of sounds romantic to me.

So isn’t it a pretty sad state of affairs when other people judge someone based on their decision to not pursue a career? I thought the women’s rights movement was supposed to support women doing whatever they want…….yet too often doesn’t it seem as though Women’s Lib only exists to put pressure on women to pursue politics, the business world and other high-pressure jobs?

Not that anything is wrong with women who decide to pursue white-collar jobs; I totally support them and I’m actually pretty excited that General Motors recently named a woman to be their new CEO! It’s a pretty historic moment for what was previously the world’s largest Corporation.

Maybe I’m wrong but I suspect that one of the problems in the United States is that a lot of people simply don’t know what to do with themselves if they aren’t working at their job. Being at work makes them feel productive, and since so many people don’t have hobbies, artistic interests, etc….they get home and end up zoning out behind the television for hours-on-end. Perhaps that is why so many people judge women and men who decide to stay-at-home with the children; they think it is merely an excuse to watch Oprah and eat chocolate all day.

A number of my friends think I’m a nut to spend as much time as I do writing and publishing articles online. Some of my friends never ask me how my writing is going because I suspect they think it’s a worthless endeavor; yet if I were running for political office, starting a new multi-million dollar business or involved in some other high-profile industry……all of a sudden these people would be pounding on my door to try and be involved in my life…..right?

Recently a fellow blogger/reader emailed me about finding the inspiration to write and publish articles every day. Of course, my response involved much of my typical blather but in the midst of my ramblings I tried to make a simple point; writing matters. For hundreds and hundreds of years it has been writers that have influenced, changed, and improved society. Whether for good or bad; writers influence culture;

—-) Martin Luther’s 95 thesis changed the face of religion in the Western World

—-) Charles Dickens novels championed women’s rights and defended the poor

—-) If not for Karl Marx Communist Manifesto  countries like North Korea, China and the Soviet Union of the 20th century would likely have been entirely different

And just as writing matters……raising our children matters. All of the great men and women throughout the ages had parents. Many of those mothers and fathers were great people……yet we never hear about them.  They are the unsung heroes throughout the ages that raised little children who grew up to be great writers, painters, musicians, politicians, and more.

Being a good parent is something that our culture should cherish and value…..isn’t it?

While writing this article a young woman sat down with me a few minutes ago and I mentioned to her the subject to which she responded, “Well, I’m glad the business men gave her dirty looks because being a stay-at-home mom sucks

Really?” I asked

Perhaps I am simply too disconnected from our culture……perhaps here in the 21st century things have changed and we no longer value parents who stay-at-home with their children. Maybe I really am a loon.

Thankfully they gave me a free coffee this morning…….that always helps

Kenneth

If you haven’t heard I’m currently on a national and worldwide tour of 100 coffee houses. My next stops include Atlanta, Chicago, Pittsburgh, and Philadelphia. Click on my homepage for dates and locations; I would love to have coffee with you!


Worst Christmas of my life…REALLY???

discipline

by Kenneth Justice

~ “Kenneth, this was the worst Christmas I’ve ever had in my entire life!”

I was sitting with one of my coffee house acquaintances on New Years Eve. “What in the world happened?” I asked him

Remember how I said my daughter and her husband were moving back up….well they arrived the week before Christmas and have been staying with us till they find a house. They have three children; a 7 year old, 5 year old and a 3 year old… and neither my daughter or her husband believes in discipline….my grandkids are out of control…I’m literally losing my mind!” he said

Apparently, his daughter and her husband don’t believe in any form of discipline whatsoever; no time outs, no physical punishment, no sending the children to their room……and so two little ones regularly scream, throw glasses shattering to the floor, and cause all sorts of ruckus without any repercussions whatsoever. My coffee acquaintance attempted to tell the four year old “NO” a couple nights ago when she was throwing a plastic toy against his digital flat screen television but his daughter didn’t appreciate him speaking to the little one that way and an argument ensued.

It’s got to be a tough experience having to move back in with your parents; the young couple of three children must be a bit overwhelmed having had to move their three children back in with ‘mom & dad’. I have a sneaky suspicion that its not that the young parents don’t believe in discipline (this particular coffee acquaintance of mine has a tendency to exaggerate) but that their level of discipline doesn’t match up with what the grandparents believe in…..and the fact that all of these people have suddenly found themselves living under one room during the Christmas holiday merely exacerbates the issue.

The subject of children and discipline is a pretty interesting one at that; people all across the Western World have extremely varied opinions when it comes to discipline and child rearing;

—) Some people fully endorse spanking

—) Others believe spanking is totally wrong

—) Some people believe in ‘Time Outs’

—) Others believe “Time Outs’ don’t work at all

Oddly enough, even single people who’ve never had any children tend to have pretty strong opinions about child rearing. I was sitting with a  single friend a couple weeks ago who was complaining about a family who brought  their small children into the coffee house, “Kenneth, if you’re a parent of small children you should absolutely NOT bring the kids into a coffee house…….children should either be kept at home, taken to the playground, or somewhere away from adults!” he said

Maybe I’m an exception….but children at coffee houses don’t bother me at all; at least not the ones who are well behaved. It seems to me that taking your children out to different places becomes an opportunity to help the children learn how to properly act and behave when in public. But perhaps I am wrong….because a lot of restaurants lately have been banning children from coming in during dinner hours. One restaurant in particular made the national NEWS last year in the U.S. when the owner loudly proclaimed that children were expressly prohibited after the hours of 6 PM.

A lot of people don’t care for children. I know of a number of married couples who have vowed to never have children…..that’s okay. I don’t believe everyone has to live exactly the same way. But I often wonder why some people seem to display such little love toward children. Is it just me or are children pretty amazing? I mean……its amazing to me that we all start out so young with the entire world before us. Every time I’ve ever held a small infant in my arms I’m always overwhelmed with the wonder and amazement of birth…..how is it possible that we all start off so small?

I can totally empathize with my coffee acquaintance though; children who are ‘bouncing off the walls’ can pretty much drive anyone nuts….and some people believe discipline is a thing of the past. “Parents are too soft on their children” my acquaintance told me, “That’s why crime levels are always on the increase…because parents aren’t being tough enough on their children….what we need are some good old fashioned values brought back into parenting” he said

Really? Is that why crime exists in the world; because of bad parenting? Perhaps he is right….I’ve never really researched the topic in great depth. However, a lot of people believe that crime is more connected to poverty and income than it is to whether or not parents are doing a good job. Then again, there are some really poor areas in the world where crime levels aren’t that very high. Ultimately, I think issues like this one are very complex; I’m always hesitant to simplify the subject out of my concern that narrowing problems down to only one issue could mean we end up missing the forest for the trees.

“So what are you going to do about the situation with your daughter and her family?” I asked my acquaintance

Well, my daughter’s company is giving her husband a bonus at the end of the month in order for them to move into a house so we only have to suffer for 30 more days” he said, “And if they don’t get out at that point….I think I might move out myself!”

It was odd to hear a grandfather talk about his grandchildren this way…..but what do I know, maybe this is more common than I realized, i thought to myself….and then I took another sip of my coffee

Kenneth

 

 


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 55,166 other followers

%d bloggers like this: