I’ve never been divorced, neither were my parents, neither were my wife’s parents. I have two siblings that have been, and have friends that have been, so while I don’t speak from personal experience, the phenomenon I’m about to describe is one in which I’ve seen repeated over and over again. When a couple is married they approach child-rearing as a team, but when they’re divorced, often it then becomes a competition.
A pattern I see often emerging is for one parent to become the “Good Parent” offering toys, candy, fun, entertainment, lax rules, etc. in order to woo the child, while the other parent, usually the main custodial parent, must then be the “Bad Parent” enforcing curfews, proper food, homework time, all those things kids hate, which they need in order to grow up healthy and well-adjusted. Actually that kind of polarization can happen even with a married couple, but it can be addressed sensibly there. With a divorced couple other factors may prevent the problem ever being seriously addressed, especially if the “Good Parent” has no intention of ever being the custodial parent and having to face the consequences of their parenting.
It occurs to me that our political parties have fallen into that pattern as well. The Democrats want to be the “Good Parent” promising bread, circuses, entitlements, hand-outs, subsidies, taxes only for those “other people” (which oddly seem to always hit the middle class the hardest in spite of the promise to “get the rich”). The Democrats know that eventually the Republicans will be in office and be forced to be the “Bad Parent” straightening out the mess left by the over-indulgent Left. Democrats gut defense and lavishly bribe special interest groups with social hand-outs, all the while offending foreign nations with their condescending foreign policies. About the time international tension are brought to their inevitable boil, out steps the DNC, and in steps the “Bad Parent” (the GOP) who has to cut back on the candy (social spending) and rebuild the military while vainly attempting to rebuild the economy.
I think the biggest problem facing Republican administrations is their unwillingness to be enough of a “Bad Parent”. Our military build up is inevitable. But in almost every other area not enough is usually done to offset the rot left from the Democrat administrations. We as a nation are in serious need of a “Bad Parent”. We can’t afford any more “entertainment”.
We need someone willing to be unpopular, and make the hard choices. We need someone that sees the necessity of discipline and hard work to build a future. We need someone that’s willing to say no to feel good programs that hurt the nation, but bring temporary popularity to shallow politicians. We need someone who can recognize real compassion, not placebos that do nothing.
America needs that “Bad Parent”.
Originally posted on March 27th, 2008 at JackLewis.net.