two asses

No one consciously wants to be an ass. Regardless, each and every day people assume.

Besides the two giant no-nos on The M3 Blog (politics and religion), the next biggest subject where assumption rears its ugly head is in the arena of parenting.

Fact: Not everyone parents the way you do.

Fact: Not everyone knows you do not parent the way they do.

Somehow, this feels like giving the right of way to a Big Wheel when you are taxiing a 757 down a tarmac. Want to know a secret? It is.


Since humans began reproducing, we began a long game of telephone. Parents raise their children. Children take what they learn from parents, improve it (because we all know we are smarter than our parents) and pass it down to the third generation. By the time we are five generations away, essential parenting tools are lost in favor of improved parenting.

Sound confusing? How about an example?

Granny has six children, three girls and three boys. She enrolls them all in cotillion so they learn the finer graces of social living because her mother never told her about how the other children would laugh when under her white gloves were dirty fingernails from picking vegetables in the fields. Granny has improved her mother’s parenting.

In order to allot time for cotillion, Granny forgoes teaching her children to plant corn, tomatoes and soybeans and save heritage seeds for next year.

Buster, Granny’s eldest son, has two left feet. He is miserable in cotillion. The moment he has his bow tie off, he rolls up his sleeves and helps the darling from table number four to get her heap started after the dance.

After the appropriate courting, Buster and Bombshell have four sons. Bombshell wants them to take cotillion. Buster puts his foot down. The boys all take shop and spend afternoons as shade tree mechanics with Buster. Parker, the youngest, wants no part of grease under his nails because it gets on the papers he is writing. He wants to be a horticulturist.

Parker studies the family tree and asks Buster about seeds and the family history of farming. Buster draws a blank because all he knows about tractors is how to change the engines. Where did it all fall apart?


When we tinker with the way we were parented to improve it, we necessarily sacrifice good portions because they do not fit with our view of how our parents could have done it better. Our assumption is our children will be more in tune with our thinking than our parents were with ours. Sounds a lot like history repeating itself.

Where did being an ass become part of parenting? What did both sets of parents assume?


The assumption making life different from the childhood we had is undeniably better is based on a more diabolical assumption: Parents know what their children want in life.

The birth certificate did not come with a codicil which stated the parents were imbued with an clairvoyance into the person the child would become. Far more than simply two sets of genetic material contributed to the creation of the child.

It is all in the code.

Wait, biology was wrong? On the contrary. No laws of genetics were harmed in the making of this (or any other) child. Recessive genes come into play. Some which were strong in former generations are absent in the parents but overwhelming in the children. Skills and preferences are a combination of inherited traits and learned behavior. Want proof? How is it every singing family has one tone-deaf person who could not carry a tune in a bucket if it was written on sheet music?

No, children are not “mini me” or “mini spouse”. No, children are not all cut from the same cloth. No, a one-size-fits-all parenting model does not exist. If it did, there would not be an entire ISBN category for parenting.

  1. Ask questions.
  2. Observe behavior.
  3. Get input.

Then, you might… What do you mean, “Ask whom? Input from where?”

Precisely which person are you trying to understand? Yes, ask your child. Watch your child’s reaction to your actions. Seek your child’s input. With it you stand a far better chance of raising a happy child who becomes a productive adult fulfilled in its life choices. Better still, by getting help from your child, you are less likely to make some depressing mistakes, like Granny and Buster.


Yes, children change their minds about what they want to grow up to be almost as often as memory needs recycling. Until they are nearing the age of majority, the curricula are pretty standard. The extracurricular activities can be different every semester.

Did you read the last sentence? Do you know its impact?

  • Exposure to different activities/subjects
  • Exposure to different children
  • Exposure to different adults
  • Exposure to different information than school
  • Exposure to making decisions

Overall, it is a lot of exposure. Buster would have loved to have had a summer of scouts, a shop class (or nine) and an apprenticeship with the local mechanic. He got stuck in cotillion because Granny would rather dance than anything else.


Consequences are rough.

Before you buy the third baseball bat bag or the seventh cheer uniform or this year’s commemorative footie jersey, find out if your child would be interested in trying chess, art, dance, STEAM, music, student government or any other of the fields available.

Would you like some adult input? Ask your veterinarian how crucial cheerleading was to her field of passion. Ask your EMT how important basketball was to teaching him how to successfully save lives. Ask your favorite author what impact volleyball had on her writing. Ask yourself what you really learned about your career by chasing a ball.


No, sports are not the devil. Choosing an activity for a child should be about enriching the child’s life, not filling the schedule to bursting or requiring a second (or third) income.

Which extracurricular activities most positively impacted you? Is there any harm in years of a single activity?

Hashtags: #parenting #sports #ambition

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  1. Reading. I hated being forced to participate in group activities and games in P.E. It was like standing before a firing squad but not nearly as much fun.

    • Reading was a good one for me as well. If PE had been kite-flying, I may have gotten more from it. Other than tennis, I despised PE.

  2. We all have unique talents and interests. It would be great if we could all find our special niche, but no matter how many things you may be exposed to, we can never be aware of or try everything that’s out there. The more opportunities the better, though.


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