Tag Archives: CHILDREN

PARENTS: Children of the Great Scattering

PARENTS: Children of the Great Scattering

Like fools, we rushed in. I came of age politically in the 1960s, earned my doctorate in the 1970s, and taught social work students (mostly at masters and doctoral level) until retiring in 2011.

In the first period of the sexual revolution, my students and I mostly celebrated the revolution as a period of liberation for adults, especially women, from the constraints of tradition, law, and custom.

Insofar as we considered at all the impacts of the revolution on children, families, and communities, we minimized them or saw them as beneficial. Easy divorce would free children from having to grow up in loveless, conflict-ridden families. Thanks to the pill and abortion, all children would be “wanted.” Children would be freed from the stigma of their parents’ divorce or their mothers’ unmarried status, cohabitation with an unrelated man, or other nontraditional family structures.

We didn’t consider seriously the coming drop in fertility and the shrinkage of families. What was the impact on children to spend, as half of them now do, at least some of their childhood without one or both biological parents? What was the social impact of fatherlessness, of growing up with few or no siblings, of having few cousins, aunts, uncles, or little involvement of the father’s side of the family?

Sometimes, especially at the end of the 20th century, a family scholar sounded the alarm, but far too few of us seriously examined these questions.


These issues go to the heart of almost every social problem social workers address. Yet my students and I had difficulty discussing them frankly, no doubt in part because many or most of us were directly affected by them in a world of divorce, premarital sex, cohabitation, and lone parenthood.

There was also concern that noticing the adverse outcomes in education, criminal justice involvement, employment, mental health, and just about every other social indicator, from fractured families and fatherless children would stigmatize single mothers, children born out of wedlock, and cohabiting couples.

So we talked, not about the family, but families, as if one kind of family structure was as good as another and it was discriminatory to say otherwise. We could call for more public resources to meet the needs of single mothers and their children and praise the heroic struggles made by such mothers, but not worry that such family structures themselves disadvantaged children or that the government was bankrolling and incentivizing them by substituting for the role of fathers as providers and protectors.

Many of us saw such dependence on government as liberating women and children from dependence on men. Some described marriage, in the common phrase of the time, as a “hitting license”—ignoring the research evidence that women were safer in marriage than in any other kind of relationship, such as cohabitation. Children were most at risk of violence and abuse when living with their mother and her partner who wasn’t the children’s biological father.

Textbooks used in marriage and family courses treated marriage as pathological rather than what it had been understood as since it was recognized in the first legal codes millennia ago—as the optimum setting for raising children and assuring paternal responsibility. They continued to expound these distortions and expose hundreds of thousands of students to their ideology long after researchers of all political persuasions had shown them to be false.

Against all evidence, textbook authors, publishers, and professors persisted in perpetuating a false narrative about marriage and the needs of children as if it were factual.

Children of the Great Scattering

In her important new book, “Primal Screams: How the Sexual Revolution Created Identity Politics,” Mary Eberstadt shows how the children of the children of the sexual revolution responded to this brave new world with primal rage.

They grew toward adulthood in a state of panic over identity. They had lost the experience of a natural, intact family, not to war or disease but to the sexual consumerism of their parents. In the process, they were bereft of a clear answer to the question “Who am I?”

Previous generations, Eberstadt says, had answered the question in terms of their expectation of growing up in a family—the expectation that they would have children and a family themselves, that parents and siblings and extended family would remain their primal community, and thus, that it was a tragedy not to be part of a family.

Eberstadt discusses many aspects of the “Great Scattering” of families and the angry responses to it.

In some cases, young people whose interests were ignored when they were babies—like the children of anonymous sperm donors who were conceived with the deliberate intent from the start that they would grow up fatherless, without knowledge of or contact with their own biological father—found their own voice as young adults.

Unlike adoption, which had developed as a way to provide a child without a functioning family with parents, the aim in surrogacy was to meet the desires of adults, not the needs of children. But those children grew up and expressed publicly their sense of loss, as in organizations like The Anonymous Us Project and Stop Surrogacy Now.

One of the most striking manifestations of the anger and loss of sense of belonging is the profound shift in the pop music that children of the Great Scattering drove up the charts. It was no longer the music of abandon of their parents’ youth but, as Eberstadt says, the music of abandonment. It was anger—expressed most powerfully, but not only, by rap superstar Eminem, against parents, especially fathers, for breaking up their families and leaving them to grow up with a dysfunctional childhood.

As Eberstadt puts it, “During the same years in which progressive-minded and politically correct adults have been excoriating Ozzie and Harriet as artifacts of 1950s-style oppression, millions of American teenagers have enshrined a new generation of music idols whose shared signature in song after song is to rage about what not having had a nuclear family had done to them.”

In some cases, especially on college campuses, the identity rage took on irrational, preadolescent forms. Protesters behaved like children having a tantrum, shouting down speakers on campus with different views from their own, crying, chanting, screaming, or taping their mouths shut as if they were the ones being silenced rather than doing the silencing.

Shorn of identity rooted in family, argues Eberstadt, young people adopted alternative nonfamily identities as ways of being—defining the self in terms of combinations or “intersections” of race, sex, sexual appetite, and “gender”—with some curious results.

In its coarseness, vulgarity, swagger, and belligerence, says Eberstadt, feminism in its latest phase (as in the Women’s March) has adopted some of the more obnoxious features of the “toxic masculinity” it deplores. Feminism manifests the “routine renorming of women toward men”—the message continually given to women that, to succeed, they must behave like men. It’s a message that, far from liberating women, traps them in the paradigm of being “failed men.”

These, a generation later, are some of the poison fruits of the sexual revolution that we rationalized as being in the interests of everyone. But it was, as much as anything, a revolution in parenthood—in the subordination of children’s needs to the desires of adults.

Paul Adams is a professor emeritus of social work at the University of Hawaii and was a professor and associate dean of academic affairs at Case Western Reserve University. He is the co-author of “Social Justice Isn’t What You Think It Is” and has written extensively on social welfare policy and professional and virtue ethics.

University of California Children Should Be Able To Watch Porn

University of California Children Porn

A public university in California features a controversial website that encourages parents to react “positively” when 4-year-olds touch each other’s genitals and says young children should be allowed to watch porn.

The University of California, Santa Barbara hosts an online platform, within the sociology department, called “SexInfo Online,” which is maintained by students “who have studied advanced topics in human sexuality” that seek to answer a myriad of questions on sexuality, The College Fix reported.

“The majority of sexual play between children takes place between the ages of 4 and 7,” the website states in a section titled “Childhood Sexuality,” accompanied by a photo of two little girls that appear to be kissing on a beach. “Children might display affection to their friends by hugging and kissing, or touching each other’s genitals, which is perfectly normal. Parents should not react in a negative way because children are just exploring.”

It adds that parents should intervene only “if the acts are non-consensual or hurtful.”

In a section titled “Talking To Your Children About Sex” parents are encouraged to let their children watch pornography.

“It is important that children understand that viewing pornography is a normal habit, and that they do not need to be ashamed of it,” UCSB students wrote.

The article tells parents how to have “the talk” with their kids.

“Children and teens do not want to be told what to do, especially when it comes to personal topics such as sex,” the website states. “It is important that parents do not lecture their children, but instead try to present information and have an open discussion about sex. Adolescents will make their own decisions regarding sex and it is up to the parent to give them the information and resources needed to make informed decisions.”

The school’s department of sociology chair declined to comment and the university did not immediately respond to request for comment.

PARENT ALERT: The Law Should Protect Children, Not Sexual Expressionism

Law professor Helen Alvaré’s new book, ‘Putting Children’s Interests First in US Family Law and Policy,’ details the alarming number of ways the law privileges ‘consensual adult sexual expression,’ regardless of the consequences.

When I began writing on matters of sexuality, household structure, and children’s outcomes—which yielded unpleasant experiences from which I’m still smarting—I had little sense or interest in family law.

But when I began writing what came to be the book Cheap Sex, I started probing distinctions in state family law—matters including divorce and age of consent—as well as familiarizing myself with the pathway by which artificial contraception came to be widely legalized and increasingly popular.

George Mason University law school professor Helen Alvaré, on the other hand, knows all about it. Her new volume, Putting Children’s Interests First in U.S. Family Law and Policy: With Power Comes Responsibility, is a helpful tool for family law scholars, judges, attorneys, and people interested in understanding or fomenting legal and social change. It’s priced by Cambridge University Press out of reach of most readers, but I hope that doesn’t stop people from accessing it.

Alvaré takes readers on a tour of the history of family law. It’s what I like most about this book, and it is her unique strength. Hence the first chapter is the longest and most engaging, and the most helpful for legal neophytes. Her key claim is about the rise of what she calls “sexual expressionism,” our cultural—and now legal—penchant for valorizing the sexual decisions of adults, putting their wishes squarely and unapologetically in front of children’s needs.

She holds that the Supreme Court has been the primary source of sexually expressionist language. Alvaré notes that “the executive branch has not lagged far behind” the high court. She shares no shortage of examples of the latter, including the Obama-era Justice Department’s assertion that there is no rational reason for states to take unique interest in the relationships of procreative pairs. This position, she holds, is only defensible when your leadership presumes the merits of sexual expressionism. But commanders-in-chief come and go, executive orders can be undone, and Jeff Sessions is no Eric Holder. What the Supreme Court says, however, and how it says it, tends to stick.

Sex Makes Babies

A second key assertion is that a child’s family structure—and with it, much of his or her future—is basically determined at the time of conception. Children conceived to unmarried parents find themselves on a trajectory from Day 1 of heading toward abortion or of greater average difficulty, or a life of comparative security and opportunity to flourish. Marriage, the science holds, makes a difference.

But when government promulgates the narrative that “unprotected sex makes babies,” complicating the more basic and accurate fact that “sex makes babies,” the cognitive connection between sex and parenthood weakens. (Weak it is, as I also document in Cheap Sex.) Much of the rest of Putting Children’s Interests First outlines who—which departments, agencies, and programs—gets what by way of funding and instruction to embed sexual expressionism and the decoupling of sex from fertility more deeply into the psyche of our everyday lives.

The federal government, Alvaré holds, supports the notion that “consensual adult sexual expression” is not merely legal or acceptable, but a profound human good, whereas the actual status of adults’ relationships is of no great concern. It’s about the sex, not about the relationship. This is the cornerstone of sexual expressionism. Here’s how it came to life.

In Griswold v. Connecticut (1965), the Supreme Court moves to treat the marital couple not as an independent entity but as the association of two individuals. But it was Eisenstadt v. Baird (1972) that was the first to display disregard for the marital status of the couple. Beginning with Eisenstadt, which granted single persons a constitutional right to access contraception, the court issued a series of decisions that gave legal life to sexual expressionism. Roe v. Wade (1973) reinforced it, disparaging pregnancy and childbirth, as the court connected physical and psychological harm with the burdens of child care.

While bearing and raising children is no easy thing, Alvaré notes the court paints no other picture of parenting than the problems. Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992) continues this, linking “sex—without childbirth and indifferent to the partners’ stability—with a woman’s ability to be free, equal to men, happy, and empowered to form her own identity.”

The court increasingly disregards marriage, while investing genital sexual activity with considerable power and unheard-of constitutional concern. The justices eventually return to an interest in marriage—just not the kind that (typically) yields children. In Windsor and Obergefell, Alvaré asserts the Supreme Court assigns “crucial importance to nonprocreative sexual conduct, and link it with foundational human values such as freedom, equality and dignity,” in so doing declaring that all sex acts are now created equal. Never mind that such a declaration is hardly self-evident. Three children remind me of this daily.

Meaningful Bonds

Sexual expressionism, Alvaré maintains, is not neutral about our unions. Instead, it undermines relationship stability. Obergefell’s fans demur. The majority opinion in it, they hold, bolstered and ennobled stability by re-inserting children into the equation. Protecting the right to marry “safeguards children and families and thus draws meaning from related rights of childrearing, procreation, and education.”

The irony here could not be more striking. After facilitating child-free, nonmarital heterosexual intercourse for 40 years, the Supreme Court seeks to protect children who cannot be the sexual product of their parents’ love. And its supporters are seemingly oblivious to this.

As evidence of this, Alvaré cites Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s defense of parenthood in Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl (2013), where she asserted in her dissent that “the biological bond between parent and child is meaningful,” and that “children have a reciprocal interest in knowing their biological parents,” including their fathers. Severing that creates a loss that “cannot be measured.” (Actually, we can measure it, and have.)

Sotomayor continues, characterizing U.S. family law as reflecting the “understanding that the biological bond between a parent and a child is a strong foundation on which a stable and caring relationship may be built.” It does? Where? Only in the imagination: there remain no more legal “sticks” left to channel childbearing into marriage, Alvaré claims.

Meanwhile, babies are still “happening.” They’re just decreasingly guaranteed the right to life and the protection and love of the people who made them—intentionally or accidentally. The contraceptive revolution, underwritten by untold billions of dollars of investments, Alvaré claims, has just not worked. We didn’t get from 5 percent nonmarital births in 1961 to 41 percent today by failing to dole out the Pill. We got there in no small part because of it. It’s what you should expect when you combine an explosion in confidently infertile nonmarital sex with predictable contraceptive failure rates.

What’s the state’s answer? More of the same, this time with LARCs, or long-acting reversible contraceptives. The problem? Women aren’t big fans of them, despite plenty of encouragement and lots of research-and-development. Federal contraception programs haven’t even succeeded in reducing unintended pregnancy.

Why not? Because the government—as Alvaré describes in the book’s fourth chapter—operates with a deeply erroneously and ethically suspect “anthropology,” or understanding of what human beings are and how they work. In particular, they get women wrong, she claims. Sexual expressionism assimilates women to the male norm: sex without commitment. It won’t make them happy, at least not on average. “Why,” she asks, “would sex be the only domain in which justice for women is perfectly achieved by conforming women to men’s preferences and outcomes?” It’s an excellent question.

Realism and Pessimism

Why problematize contraception now? Well, Alvaré wonders, “Why not?” Even many feminists express no great fondness for it, often supporting it out of allegiance to progressive goals. Moreover, the Pill is entrenched. It can be criticized without political paranoia. Instead, she wishes to confront the court system about its indifference to the notion that marriage is not just good for kids; it is, in no small part, for kids. Alvaré resents, as do I, suggestions that supporting marital parenting is “sexist,” a quest to “turn back the clock.”

Alvaré also wishes to reverse governmentally endorsed sexual expressionism. That is a long-term project with many obstacles, not the least of which is our collective amnesia about where babies come from, which represents a clear victory of sexual expressionism. Unplanned pregnancies have become the new “illegitimacy,” a designation once made by the state, now by the people. We can do better.

Hardly a knee-jerk social conservative, Alvaré is openly supportive of generous “back door” programs and benefits. Just don’t expect them to work miracles. That’s on us, or rather, that’s on our commitment to marriages and marital childbearing. But when subsidiarity fails, communities and states must step in. Yet they cannot love like a married mother and father—those biological parents America’s children no longer have a legal right to know.

Finally, Alvaré would also like to give people more information about relationships—think Gottman Institute kind of material—not just content tailored toward one or another political end. Women and men want more information “about one another, about sex, about healthy relationships and marriage, and about unhealthy relationships. Young Americans are ready for this,” she holds.

“Realism is desirable,” an assertion with which I certainly agree. Pessimism in this domain, however, is never far away. I can only imagine how politicized basic relationship information would be. In the end, even “do no harm” sounds good.

Mark Regnerus is associate professor of sociology at the University of Texas at Austin, a senior fellow at the Austin Institute for the Study of Family and Culture, the author of “Cheap Sex,” and a contributor to Unskewed.

‘Transgender Lessons’ To Be Given To Nursery School Children in UK

Drag Queen Story Time for Children

Drag queens are being brought into nursery schools for storytelling sessions to teach children from the age of two about issues such as gender fluidity.

Bristol-based organisation Drag Queen Story Time (DQST) runs reading sessions with ‘queer role models’ for young children in schools, libraries and hospitals.

Launched by Bristol University Law graduate Thomas Canham, the project aims to teach children about transgender issues through storytelling, in addition to misogyny, homophobia and racism.

The 26-year-old was inspired to set up the project after learning about a similar scheme in the US named Drag Queen Story Hour.

Nursery bosses said the sessions are needed so that children encounter people “who defy rigid gender restrictions”, according to the Mail on Sunday.

They reportedly want to target two and three-year-olds in order to influence them early against hate crime.

Children this age have not yet developed any discriminatory ‘isms’, it was suggested.

But critics told the Mail that the sessions could “blind impressionable children of two and three to one of the most basic facts of human existence”.

Child psychotherapist Dilys Daws, co-author of the book Finding Your Way With Your Baby, feared the sessions could confuse young children about their own sexual identity.

She said: “There’s this idea that’s sweeping the country that being transgender is an ‘ordinary situation’.

“It’s getting so much publicity that it’s getting children thinking that they might be transgender, when it otherwise wouldn’t have occurred to them.

“But it’s perfectly normal for most young children to think about being the opposite sex. It’s probably because they are identifying with a parent or sibling.”

DQST will hold sessions at seven nurseries run by the London Early Years Foundation (LEYF) over the winter, the newspaper reported.

If successful they are apparently due to be rolled out across the nursery’s 37 sites.

Sessions for the project, which started in May, include drag queens reading books on a wide range of issues, in addition to activities such as face painting or ‘drag discos’.

Drag queens available include Donna La Mode, who is described as “the Fairy Queen of the drag world”.

June O’Sullivan, chief executive of LEYF, told the Mail: “By providing spaces in which children are able to see people who defy rigid gender restrictions, it allows them to imagine the world in which people can present [themselves] as they wish.”

She told BBC London radio it was good to expose very young children to men who dress as women, “because children are very open until about three”.

“At three they begin to absorb all the “isms” that adults have developed very effectively,” she explained.



PARENTS: Your Adult Children Are Failing And You’re To Blame

millennial fail

In the course of raising three children with his wife, Melissa, Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska saw a “coming-of-age crisis” among the nation’s youth, which he sets out to fix with his new book, “The Vanishing American Adult” (St. Martin’s). In this excerpt from the book, he looks at how the concept of work has changed over the generations and why kids today need to experience and embrace “work pain” in order to fully grow up …

My grandmother Elda Krebs Sasse was a giant, though she stood barely 4 feet, 11 inches and probably never tipped the scales at a full 100 pounds. She never raised her voice — except to break into what her six sisters called her infectious “cackle-laughing” — yet her personality always found a way to dominate the room.

One of nine kids born to a second-generation immigrant family in windy, rural Diller, Neb. (population 327), Grandma grew up poor, working the family farm during the Great Depression. It was at home — and thus work — that she met my grandfather, who was hired as a farm boy by her dad in the 1930s. They were married in May 1941, him at age 22 and her 21.

Their first leased home had no indoor plumbing or running water. Their plot of land was north of town on Commercial Road, where they planned to start their own corn and bean farm. Just as they were settling down, World War II started up, and Grandpa was on his way to Europe. He would serve for over three years, with stops in Germany and England, as a wartime “mayor” of a regional factory town in the latter.

Grandma had just given birth to their first baby, my uncle Roger. With Elmer in Europe, she had no choice but to run the farm they had just leased. Though she’d grown up on a farm, she’d never driven a tractor. Fall was coming, and no one else was coming to do the work. So she jerry-rigged a way to attach the baby’s bassinet to the side of the lumbering old John Deere as she taught herself to harvest.

Elda regarded this fact as 100 percent uninteresting. “It was simply what needed to be done.” I know this story not because she ever thought to offer it but because I was always interrogating my grandparents for war stories as a child.

There was a matter-of-factness about them that, in fact, wasn’t extraordinary for much of their generation. This nose-to-the-grindstone, get-it-done attitude can still be heard today in conversations about work and callings with many aging members of the Greatest Generation I encounter.

Americans long regarded work differently than the rest of the world, but that difference is slipping away. Our national forebears had an almost compulsive preference for productivity over passivity.

“There is probably no people on earth with whom business constitutes pleasure, and industry amusement, in an equal degree with the inhabitants of the United States of America,” observed the Englishman Francis Grund in the mid-1830s. “Active occupation is not only the principal source of their happiness and the foundation of their national greatness, but they are absolutely wretched without it.”

The Puritan work ethic — and its cousins “Yankee ingenuity” and later “rugged individualism,” which would be truly achieved only when America had worked through its original sin of slavery — helped form a shared identity for the American people. It was an almost liturgical touchstone that all Americans, across geography, race, gender and denomination, came to esteem together.

Our ancestors’ suspicion of leisure endured until the dawn of the 20th century, when the Industrial Revolution delivered vast wealth and efficiencies along with a growing middle class that didn’t need to work as hard to subsist. The change wasn’t just that material surplus can breed materialism and sloth. It is also that material abundance and economies of scale, despite all their benefits, also often make our work less meaningful and more disconnected and robotic. Industrial life is fundamentally different from the neighborly work of the village.

Matthew Crawford wrote about this in his 2009 book “Shop Class as Soulcraft,” arguing that a cultural shift away from teaching “the trades” — the sort of skilled labor people go to vocational school or community college to learn — has made people more passive and dependent, less aware of the satisfaction of completing any manual task well. “What ordinary people once made, they now buy; and what they once fixed for themselves, they replace entirely or hire an expert to repair, whose expert fix often involves replacing an entire system because some minute component has failed.” Our global systems of production have radically reduced the prices of almost everything, but they have also come at the cost of promoting a new mentality that everything is disposable.

“If the modern personality is being reorganized on a predicate of passive consumption,” Crawford writes, “this is bound to affect our political culture.” It’s also bound to erode Americans’ desire and ability to work hard, to atrophy our drive toward larger, common projects.

In the summer of 2016, the hashtag #firstsevenjobs began trending on Twitter. People from all walks of life started listing and celebrating their first seven jobs: “Assembly-line worker; dishwasher; truck driver; editor; think-tank fellow; author; professor.” Another: “Burger King cashier; waitress at Poppin’ Fresh Pies; filing clerk; cold caller for a stock broker; banker; director of credit; CFO.”

I am a “first jobs” nerd. I ask friends and strangers, candidates interviewing for jobs and random Nebraskans at sporting events: What was your first job? What was the first hard thing you completed? What is the single hardest thing you’ve ever done?

My first seven jobs were:

·        Bean walker

·        Lemonade sales

·        Stadium pop sales

·        Corn detasseler

·        Bike buyer-seller

·        Roguing (corn, again)

·        Lifeguard/swim lesson

Most kids who have detasseled will tell you it’s the hardest job they’ve ever done. I remember days when I’d come inside in the afternoon, fall asleep and sleep straight through until the next morning when the alarm went off at 4:30 again. But, despite the suffering, the money was great for a 13-year-old: minimum wage plus a retroactive bonus of 15 cents an hour if you never missed a day.

Melissa and I think it’s important for our kids to learn how to suffer. Some might hear that phrase as unloving but it is actually the opposite. Neither our children nor your children will grow up to be free, independent, self-respecting adults if we hand them everything without the expectation of something in return.

Our friend helped us find a place where an earthy old rancher and his wife and three grown children and a new grandbaby lived and worked. We left her with little advice other than to make us proud by working hard, to ask for coaching and to never let her overseers hear her complain.

March in Nebraska is calving season. That’s when heifers give birth. It’s one of the busiest times of a rancher’s year — and a perfect time for a young girl to learn the ropes and add some genuine value.

Once she settled in, she would send me regular text messages about what she had done that day. Because many of her texts were funny, I began to tweet some of them out (my Twitter account is @bensasse) with #FromTheRanch. One of the recurring lessons was that calving is dirty, smelly and wet work.

Got an orphaned heifer to take her whole bottle. (Also got tons of nose slime & snot on my jeans.)

My day: Learned to coil barbwire; backed trailer w/ 4wheeler; & dropped 2 cows for slaughter.

To the cows we left for slaughter in Wausa I said: ‘We are done feeding you. Now it’s your turn to feed us.’

As the month wore on, my impromptu #FromTheRanch tweets attracted attention. As I traveled Nebraska over the next couple months, just about everyone I met wanted to talk about my daughter’s experiences on the ranch.

Parents wanted to know how they could make their kids suffer, too. I found this unexpected but repeated questioning strangely comforting. Parent after parent wanted advice: How could their kid get a similar wake-up-call experience?

The huddles of these anxious parents convinced me that there is a deep desire for a broader conversation about the cultural challenges of passing a meaningful work ethic on to the rising generation.

Many of our young people remain overachievers, of course. In his 2014 book “Excellent Sheep,” retiring Yale professor William Deresiewicz describes students at America’s elite schools as “smart and talented and driven, yes, but also anxious, timid, and lost.”

He suggests that although many adolescents can fill page after page of a résumé, they have “little intellectual curiosity and a stunted sense of purpose: trapped in a bubble of privilege, heading meekly in the same direction, great at what they’re doing but with no idea why they’re doing it.”

So much of our culture works against this intentional embrace of work.

In our effort to develop our kids’ talents, to provide them with a set of extracurricular experiences even more impressive than our own to help them stand out from the rest of the college-bound crowd, many of us might be unintentionally displacing lifelong “eulogy virtues” in favor of mere “résumé virtues.”

Yet, unwittingly, so much of our culture works against this intentional embrace of work. Soon after my retweets about Corrie’s time at the ranch appeared, multiple lawyers contacted me to let me know that we had probably violated labor laws by allowing our 14-year-old to work on that cattle ranch.

My wife and I hadn’t thought for a moment that we might be running afoul of any Department of Labor edicts and mandates — nor had the ranchers or their grown children who have worked with cattle for decades. But upon further digging, it turns out that some existing state and federal laws make it very difficult for teens to develop good work habits and the beginner skills needed in the marketplace.

In effect, the laws exist to do everything possible to prevent 15-, 16- and 17-year-olds from working, whether it’s limiting shifts to four hours or capping a teen’s work week at three nonconsecutive days. Government policies presume the centrality — and almost exclusivity — of schooling in the upbringing of our adolescents.

These well-meaning rules can thus unhelpfully exacerbate the challenge of intentional parenting by foreclosing the options available to parents and kids who aim to build character and hone their self-discipline through productive work experiences. Please do not misunderstand: I’m not in favor of repealing child-labor laws. But the older American ethic — of teaching kids why good work rather than the absence of work will make them happy — must be recovered in order to serve our kids better.

By Ben Sasse New York Post