Stop Being an Ostrich

November 5th, 2020 Posted by Susan's Musings 43 comments

Are you stressed? That’s a silly question. The results of this election matter a great deal to our lives and to the future of this country and the world. While I have faith that God is leading us on an ultimately glorious path, in the short-term that path can be uncomfortable, scary, and dangerous for us as individuals and families.

However, aside from praying, the conclusion of this episode is out of the hands of most of us. Whatever happens, the following remains true: elections reflect the culture. If we allow the culture to influence us, our families, and friends, we have no reason to expect elections to produce better results.

A pre-election article in the Wall Street Journal asked a number of people how they were going to handle the tension of Election Day. It quoted one pastor from Arkansas who expected to share the evening with his 12 and 14-year-old daughters. As a side comment, he mentioned that they, “[had] been radicalized by TikTok.” While he didn’t reveal his own voting preferences, “radicalized” is not generally a positive word. I assume that he and his daughters do not agree on politics.

His family is not an anomaly. I know many families where the parents hold strongly traditional and conservative views and who are aghast at their children’s contradictory ideas. (There are families that slant the other way as well, but I want to stick with this more common direction.) I also know families, and my husband and I rejoice that ours falls into this category, where the children, while having their own individual personalities and preferences, express the same morality and values as their parents.

Is this blind luck? I don’t think so. Parents can certainly do everything right and tragically watch their children go down a misguided road. However, while we cannot guarantee that our children follow in our steps, we can certainly do things to make that more probable. Perhaps the pastor in the above story is not shrugging his shoulders resignedly as my mind pictures, but if I was him, my reaction to the realization that my children were being radicalized would lead me to take radical steps. His daughters are 12 and 14, for goodness sake. Pull them out of school, do whatever you have to, and start spending multiple hours together, no electronics allowed!

If you picture my internal voice rising as I wrote those last sentences you would be correct. I have too many friends who sent their children to school, creating their schedules around their kids’ education, sports, friends, and hobbies and then sacrificed to pay enormous sums to send their children to college, only to be gobsmacked at the adults their children became. I want to be clear. Many of these young adults are lovely, caring, and hard-working. But they do not share the deepest values of their parents. Their teachers and friends shaped their thinking; their homes did not. These parents surrendered too much family autonomy.

I see many mothers deciding to stay home with their babies and I agree that, if possible, that is desirable. Too many of those moms, and fathers also,  assume that once their children are in school, their parenting role is secondary. That is false. It is absolutely imperative to understand that if your children are in government schools (or, as my husband calls them, GICs, government indoctrination camps), that is what will shape their values.  This is true even if they attend many Jewish or Christian schools as well. I have spoken to graduates of Christian colleges who tell me that their parents would be shocked to hear how some of their professors speak. I know the same is true in Jewish schools.

Here are my not-so-modestly-offered suggestions:

  1. Get your head out of the sand. You need to know what your children are learning, what they are reading, who they are hanging out with, what they are thinking, and what the latest is on social media. If you can’t find the time to do that between carpool and supervising homework and attending their soccer games and making sure they go to the dentist and everything else, then you need to change your schedule and theirs. They need concentrated and planned time with you more than they need Tae-Kwon-Do.
  2. You need to be able to think through and articulate your views and what matters to you and to choose reading and viewing material for the family. Much of what we want to teach our children like being kind and giving charity, never gets discussed on a more sophisticated level as they grow up. We neglect to explain how kindness can actually be cruel and that the government cannot be charitable. We leave our children thinking that what was appropriate when they were five is the whole picture.
  3. If you are considering helping your child go to college in any way whatsoever, think very seriously about that decision. If you go ahead, do not restrict your role to doling out dollars. Consider yourself as one of your child’s professors with full authority to assign reading material and hold seminars where you discuss what was read. A history major today may never have heard of the Federalist Papers, an economics major may not know of Adam Smith. You need to educate yourself and educate your child. Values, beliefs, and our understanding of the world do not sit on a chromosome; they will not be automatically inherited.
  4. Sharing your deepest beliefs with your child should be as much fun as sharing skiing or camping. All of the above suggestions are predicated on putting in the time, effort, and wisdom to create a relationship with your child. Love and connection aren’t enough, but if they are not present the rest is futile.

If God forbid, the air and water outside your home were polluted, you would do whatever is necessary to protect your children so that they could grow up healthy. The ideas surrounding today’s culture are badly polluted. Protect your children and when they reflect their deepest held values in the voting booth, you won’t be surprised.

Read this book, discuss it with the next generation, and
use it as a guidebook to analyzing current events.
America’s Real War: an Orthodox Rabbi Insists that Judeo-Christian Values
Are Vital for the Nation’s Survival

paperback combo: special price on paperback and ebook ebook

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43 comments

Art Carnrick says:

My thoughts are pretty hostile right now regarding the cheating in this election… I thank you for a calm memo… but I also need to figure out how to channel this energy into fixing the voting problem… rather than knocking some cheater’s block off! Again, thanks for a great article…

Susan Lapin says:

John Fund, who used to be in upper levels at the Wall Street Journal, warned about election integrity decades ago. He tried to get people to wake up. Congress does need to do something if it isn’t too late. At this point, about half of America will not accept the results no matter which way things go.

Liz says:

Thank you for this meaningful and encouraging article. Recently a mom told me that she sends her kids to public school for the social interaction that she thinks is important. I thought, ‘We homeschool for the same reason!’ It is refreshing to read your encouragement to invest in our children.

Susan Lapin says:

Liz, how true! That would be exactly my thoughts as well.

Karen says:

Pray and stay in God’s word

Lynd says:

We homeschooled our children from K-12 and then they went to Jr. College and got their Associates Degrees.
All 3 are responsible, caring, very hardworking and staunch conservatives.

We sacrificed a lot of income to school at home.
Sometimes when our friends would have the latest cars and gizmos I would wonder if all the sacrifices were worth it?

I can tell you I would do it over in a heartbeat. They are truly a blessing to us and everyone they meet.

Susan Lapin says:

Lyn, I’m sure I could think of things we traded – but I’m not sure I would say sacrificed. We have a family of wonderful adults who make us proud every day.

Loren says:

There is no higher calling than to train up our own children. It is God’s idea and a commandmenrt to do so, not our idea. To offer them up to strangers for the sake of convenience for their training is not reasonable or safe in any regard don’t do it. That is what the world does. We also kept our children home and they are all the better for it. I don’t think of it as a great thing. It’s God’s design so it’s the only right thing to do.

Susan Lapin says:

This is an excellent point, Loren. Raising our children and teaching them is our obligation. If we choose to use agents, it is our responsibility to constantly make sure these agents are serving us.

Ron mehelich says:

We are the parents that homeschooled our 4 kids grades 1-12 and sent them to Christian (we thought, but liberal!) college. Now 2 are liberals and it hurts.

Jean says:

Ron – I graduated from a highly acclaimed private college with Christian (Presbyterian) roots. Even in the dinosaur days of 1974-1978, it was turning more toward the secular left in its education. The seeds were planted long ago, and now the weeds of leftist ideology have engulfed most of what is called “higher education.” I unlearned a lot of what I was taught thanks to several events that served as turning points. I hope that your children will have a few of these same experiences.

Susan Lapin says:

Those college years are incredibly open to peer pressure. Kids have to have a very strong backbone and a deep understanding of why our values are what they are to withstand it. But you planted a strong foundation and I pray their eyes will open. I do want to be clear that my husband and I are not automatic conservatives – in some times our views would be liberal. Our choices are specifically based on issues as we hold them up to the Torah’s light, not on blind loyalty to a political party.

Ty Steward says:

Nothing to add except thanks for your wisdom. . .

Susan Lapin says:

I appreciate your writing, Ty.

Claire J. says:

I pulled my son out of public school when he was in 4th grade. He is currently in 11th. I did so because of the Common Core curriculum. My son was average; not at the top of his class but definitely not at the bottom. Like most kids, he was strong in some areas and weaker in others. Rather than let a terrible curriculum confuse him, I pulled him out to homeschool him right at the exact time I was ready to return to work as a CPA. My daughter, conversely, was going into 6th grade at that time and asked to remain in public school. Because my daughter was one of those fortunate kids who barely had to study to get an “A”, I allowed her to remain. The other reason was my daughter struggled mixing with kids. For the first time in middle school, she seemed to be a part of a nice group of girls who were always visiting each other. I struggled for a while because I didn’t like the public school system, but I was torn because she was extremely happy mixing with her peers for the first time.
Today, I regret that decision. My daughter seemed to adopt values very different from ours once she entered high school. Her crowd changed and things were just not right. She opted to homeschool with us (through a school where actual teachers teach on Monday and then the kids finished their work Tuesday-Friday. The kids at our homeschool are some of the nicest, most polite kids you could ask for. Sadly, they were too goody-goody for her liking after what she experienced at public school. Today, at 19, I am devastated that she moved out with a young man and looks at us as the enemy. It hurts me deeply because this is a child that only 5 years ago read with me every night. She accepts none of our values. I don’t mind having a child with different ideas; I do mind one who is dishonest and rude at this point. I almost don’t know who she is anymore. I am truly the prodigal parent hoping one day she returns home.
My son, on the other hand, by nature is a very caring and thoughtful young man. On his own, he accepts the philosophies he was raised with. Things I would consider normal but are,in reality today, radical. He believes in “please and thank you”, helps my elderly mother to to the car and into her house when we go out to eat, holds a door for women, and does not accept abortion. I don’t favor him over my daughter because he is more aligned with the family ideals, but I am more proud of him with his behavior. Do I credit this to homeschooling? Absolutely! It makes a world of difference who our children are around and whose philosophies are taught to them and they ultimately accept. I once read a text on my daughter’s phone by a girl I would have described as having a “head on her shoulders.” She texted that she could care less about an unborn child and that it wasn’t really a baby so abortion was acceptable to her. Surprisingly, my daughter did not reply, and I hoped that was a sign that our teachings conflicted her, but she was not a follower to just blindly agree. Still, I wish I had pulled her out of public school in 6th grade when my son came out in 4th. This is just my opinion to anyone on the fence out there about public schools. Homeschooling has been a wonderful blessing and both my son and I continue to enjoy it. You can do it if the idea scares you. There are many resources and paths to travel. All is takes is a commitment to make it work.

Susan Lapin says:

Claire, I love what you say about loving both your children, but being proud of your son’s choices. We don’t need to approve of our children’s choices, but yes, we do need to love them.

Corie Di matteo says:

In the aftermath of school closures and Covid- we decided to pull our 3 young children out of public school and educate them at home. It has been a very challenging transition but one I am so grateful God led us to. I resonate with so much of what you wrote here and am very grateful for the encouragement. I know being deeply connected to my children and their education is my true calling; no matter how hard the transition has been!

Susan Lapin says:

Corie, the start of homeschooling, especially when it was somewhat forced on you rather than a decision, is daunting. There is so much support out there. I hope you find a good group of mothers who build each other up and share ideas. Trust yourself.

Stephen Smith says:

Well said. Lets all pray for the President’s team trying to root out and cleanse the cheating and lying. Are we really Cuba?

Susan Lapin says:

Stephen, it is tragic that there is no faith in the system and Congress has avoided the issue of voting integrity for too long.

Cathy Richardson says:

Is there something more the church and church pastors can do than pray. I know prayer is most powerful, but shouldn’t we back up our prayer with action like we do with love? What sort of action would you recommend?

Susan Lapin says:

Cathy, I can think of three things to do. Write letters to the editor/tweet/etc. politely but firmly expressing your disappointment that you cannot trust in the fairness of the electoral process. Use facts not emotions. Donate money to groups fighting the good fight. Get involved on a local level – school board etc. in your community. If you can’t run for office yourself, get to know the people who are and help the good ones.

Kristin Grose says:

Poignant and spot on as usual. What a provocative and persuastive column, Susan. I heartily second your recommendations and could have written them myself having made the sacrifices necessary to raise my children without the “help” of daycare, putting off a career until they were out of the house and beginning our own little Catholic school. The sacrifices were all a labor of love and they have paid huge dividends. God bless and God speed. Pray for the President and restoration of trust in the election process.

Susan Lapin says:

Kristin, I just read a novel by an author I usually like where she made motherhood seem like drudgery and disappointment, even though I think she thought she was being positive about it. We happy mothers need to be heard.

Susan Hire says:

Thank you Susan for writing this. I feel so angry by what is happening with this continual coup going on with this election. I just watched an older episode of Ancient Jewish Wisdom about Pharoah, Hitler, and how what happened in the past is still relevant today…a warning if you will. Thank you and Rabbi Lapin for all you do.

Alice R Watts says:

We pray, yes. Tell us what else we can do. Thank you for your thoughts.

Susan Lapin says:

Fight discouragement. Stay strong. Hone our ideas and arguments so that we can share them with others.

Good post, Susan. Thank you!

Susan Lapin says:

Thank you, Nancy.

Tim Redmond says:

brilliant, as always Susan. Good reminder to get radical abt the agressive and unapoligetic radicalization against our kids!!

Susan Lapin says:

Tim, what amazes me is how many God-fearing Jews and Christians seem blind to the seducing of their children or who think that as long as they ignore the world their children won’t be exposed to its snares.

Cathy Richardson says:

I started home schooling my son when he was in the 5th grade and his father had died. He was reluctant but very quickly liked it because he got his work done by 1pm and I would then take him to karate, skateboarding, etc. He was not allowed to play video games Sunday night throughThursday night. Our homeschooling partnered with the public system. My son saw a teacher once a week until high school where he actually went to class 2-3 times a week. I had to go in and complain about their lack of work and challenge for my son, but they just looked at me like I was crazy since the subject’s program was written by an “excellent” teacher. They did nothing to correct the problem. When he was a senior, I had him go back to public school. I thought this would be a good transition. His grades started out with As and by the end of the year, he received grades of D, C, B and no As. He went onto graduate from state college and is a very responsible grownup now, however, his values are not conservative or in line with the Bible. He has replaced Bible values with stoicism, and leans very much toward socialism. My daughter on the other hand was a wild child, never homeschooled, nor did she finish high school and even went to prison right at 18 years old. However, when she had a child out of wedlock around 22 years old, she became a serious mother and returned to the Bible with a vengeance. She is now so blessed and has given us 4 grandchildren and we live only 5 minutes from her, her husband and kids.

Bethany Haynes says:

Spot on. I homeschooled my two oldest until high school; they attended online public so did not have peer influence and I was able to see everything they were learning. In addition, they would tell me the heresies of evolution being taught. My oldest got her masters in teaching from a strong Christian university. She was required to take Bible classes, which she loved. They are very strong independent minded conservative God fearing young women! My youngest went to our church’s small private school where I was actively involved. She homeschooled for junior high and is now attending public high school. It was a shock to her, but we have open communication which, to me, is key. She is a Godly 16 year old who has been ridiculed for her morals yet still held her head high and stands on the word of God. She has influenced girls whose parents are Christians, but their faith was weak. Has it been easy for her? No, but she is stronger in her faith than many Christians I know. Her Christian math teacher (she happened to see at a Christian concert) wrote to her at the end of her 9th grade year that she influenced him to be a better Christian. God has spoken to her about going to Harvard. We have gone over and over how, if she is accepted, her professors will teach contradictory to her beliefs. She knows but I’m determined she will stand firm in her faith. I don’t know the outcome, but I will be a praying mom. I believe in my heart she will make it through with her strong conservative beliefs unscathed. Communication is key. We have talked politics and godly principles with all our girls in open-ended conversations. I can’t stress that enough.

Susan Lapin says:

Bethany, we absolutely know kids (including ours) who were strong enough to face peers and professors and stay true to the path they were on. It needs open eyes and solid backup.

Loren says:

There is no higher calling than to train up our own children. It is God’s idea and a commandmenrt to do so, not our idea. To offer them up to strangers for the sake of convenience for their training is not reasonable or safe in any regard don’t do it. That is what the world does. We also kept our children home and they are all the better for it. I don’t think of it as a great thing. It’s God’s design so it’s the only right thing to do.

Susan Lapin says:

Loren, one of the things that the Democrat Party likes is universal pre-school. I wonder why?

Gordy Beil says:

This is one of those times when I question the sanity of the national electorate! There are a couple of bad things floating in the National Punch Bowl. (who’s next? Gilbert Godfried and Peewee Herman?)!

The trials of Job, indeed>

Susan Lapin says:

Gordy, I absolutely question the wisdom of the national electorate. Especially the college-educated, though that description includes me.

Anne says:

I am not happy with many of the election results in my state, but that doesn’t mean I believe there was voting fraud. Before I would believe there was voting fraud, I would need credible evidence. Not liking the results of the election is not credible evidence.

Susan Lapin says:

You are absolutely correct that not liking the results doesn’t equal fraud. However, just as in any relationship, when you sweep problems under the carpet over many years, you lose trust. There have been “irregularities” for decades that have been ignored. These go back to non-partisan problems, such as the need for identifying every voter but the Democrats yelled “racism” anytime they were brought up and the GOP cowered. Also, there was little political capital to be gained by fixing these problems This resembles how repairing infrastructure doesn’t win credit for local government but of course, handing out tax money for new programs does. Then, everyone sounds shocked when the bridge collapses or the water is polluted. It’s not a shock–it was ignored when it was easier to fix….You can’t allow mistakes/fraud/carelessness for years and then expect people to accept that everything is on the up and up especially after four years of hatred.

When you add to that a media that blatantly has an agenda and, under the Obama administration an IRS, FBI, and other government entities acting corruptly, there is a great deal of reason to suspect that truth isn’t the most important thing to many in power. Imagine what would happen if the votes were the other way? The headlines would be screaming about needing a fair election. Elections have been stolen – pretty much everyone agrees on that (research Nixon/Kennedy). You can’t allow mistakes/fraud/carelessness for years and then expect people to accept that everything is on the up and up after four years of hatred.

David hastings says:

Susan,
Wow – this article really hits the spot!

It seems like there is a concept to be “open minded ” aka allow cultural pollutants into your child’s life to show them how to navigate it before they enter the real world.

Much of chil raising is prayer, because we can’t realistically control everything our children hear and see.

Do you have any recommended reading on the topic of how to introduce your child to cultural, and at what age?

Thank you for this important article!

Susan Lapin says:

David, years ago, my husband and I spoke to a man who was sending his 5-year-old child to a public school (known for problems) because he thought that being held up for your lunch money or roughed up was part of learning how the world works. We disagreed.
You’re asking a great question. Our children who are RV’ing around the country were parked in an RV park last week next to two lovely women and their children. One of the kids told our grandkids that he has two mommies instead of a daddy. So, the question just came up in our family as to what the conversation should be.
I can’t think of reading off the top of my head (other than the Tuttle Twin books for economic issues (https://rabbidaniellapin.com/?s=boyack&category_name=practical-parenting). But, I will think about it. I do know that we talked and talked and talked to our kids – and listened. It is very easy for a lot of what we teach little kids to be “liberal-biased” and we made sure that they saw the other side of the Torah as well. Here’s a small example-Judges aren’t allowed to weigh judgment to the rich or to the poor. Why both? Surely the rich man can afford to lose a case more than a poor man? Or, why can’t a Kohen (a descendant of Aaron, the High priest) marry a divorced woman? What about love? In other words, we looked for places to explain our values.

David Hastings says:

Thank you – I’m going to checkout that book series.

I definitely appreciate the value in finding specific topics that allow the lessons to be understood by young minds.

Private schools are also struggling with this issue. Teachers know that kids come from various different backgrounds, and therefore try to give over a lesson that left-leaning parents wont be too upset with.

We would love to hear your thoughts. Please leave a comment.

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