Sheldon Cooper:But you do bring up an interesting point. I don’t have to break new ground here, I’m sure much of the research already exists.
Leonard Hofstadter: No! no, my point is, if you want to learn how to make friends, then just go out to a coffee shop or a museum. Meet people. Talk to them. Take an interest in their lives.
Sheldon Cooper: That’s insane on the face of it. Come on.
Leonard Hofstadter: Where are we going?
Sheldon Cooper: You’re driving me to the mall. I’m going to acquire a book that summarizes the current theories in the field of friendmaking.

The Big Bang Theory The Friendship Algorithm 2009

This piece at Stacy McCain’s site concerning Emma Lindsay has really stuck with me:

She dated a series of boyfriends until she was in her mid-20s, at which point she decided she was actually bisexual, spent three years dating lesbians and, as she has said, convinced herself she was a victim of “the heteronormative brainwashing of society.” However, Ms. Lindsay’s lesbian relationships turned out the same way as her earlier relationships with men — i.e., failure — and, after a two-year romantic hiatus, she decided to subject herself once more to the insidious forces of patriarchy. What is her likelihood of heterosexual success, at age 32, if she always failed with men when she was younger? Or to look at it from a different angle, why would a man be interested in a woman who has not only been rejected by all her previous boyfriends, but has also been deemed an unsuitable partner by lesbians?

This latest shift seems about the desire for a child and has left her with a problem the quest is not going well because apparently the people she is meeting just aren’t as considerate as she is:

When I date people, I devote a lot of effort to making their lives better. When I’m with women, I read about health issues that effect lesbian demographics (higher rates of breast cancer, obesity, and depression.) When I’m with men, I read about health issues that effect straight men (coronary issues, blood pressure, and emotional issues esp. around anger.) When I date people of color, I research POC health/discrimination/etc. issues, especially issues around dating white people (mental/health effects of internalized racism, institutionalized racism, the types of micro-aggressions I may be likely to commit.) When I date people with less money, I pay for shit. When I date people who are messy, I organize their shit (even though I’m also really messy.) When I date people with physical limitations, I massage their shit (weird Emma past: I went to massage school.)

Her efforts have all come down to two choices in her quest for motherhood:

As far as I can tell, I have 2 options. Option 1 is “trapping” some guy into having kids with me because he lacks the self awareness to plan for it himself. This would also involve taking his last name, doing most of the housework while contributing 50% to the earnings, and faking my orgasms so he doesn’t have to feel emasculated by his lack of sexual prowess.

Option 2 is having kids by myself.

It would involve some sacrifices, like probably not living in San Francisco. However, every time I go on a date with some man-child, I become more and more convinced that those sacrifices are probably the less bad option.

Stacy sums up this conclusion here:

Her proposed “Option 2” — pay for donor sperm, “becoming a single mother by choice” — is a childish threat: “If you don’t play by my rules, I’m going to take my uterus and go home.” To which the world’s male population will generally react with a shrug of indifference.

“Damaged goods,” they’ll say, and if Emma Lindsay were an isolated exception, a lone kook howling at the moon, perhaps I’d shrug, too. Yet the fact is that Ms. Lindsay is part of a tide of human wreckage washing up on the shores of our sin-sick society, the flotsam and jetsam created by the disintegration of America’s formerly Christian culture.

While I agree this entire situation reeks of the disintegration of America’s Christian Culture I think Stacy is missing a key point concerning Miss Lindsay’s screed a consideration that is completely ignored in her calculations.

The good of her child.

You can look high and low, but in all her critiques of the various men she is considering none of said critiques include:  Would this man be a good father?  Would he put our child first?  Would this man be a good role model for our child?

Nor does she seem to be all that concerned about what she would bring to the table.  She talks about having to give up San Francisco and alludes to other unnamed sacrifices but nowhere is the realization that once you have children your life and your commitment belongs to them.  Their well-being, their education, feeding them, clothing them, steering them along the right path.  All of this considerations would seem to be job one.

Where is all her research on what makes a healthy and happy child who will grow up to be a responsible member of adult society?

In the days of my youth, these considerations went without saying, today with the sex act completely divorced from its actual function of procreation it seems her MIT education has not prepared her to ask this completely obvious question.

There is good news however for Miss Lindsay.  She has access to an excellent resource on this subject, as evidenced from an earlier piece of hers concerning the moment the general public discovered her writing:

Then, the day after, I got 75 thousand views, and I called my parents.

“Are you ok?” they asked, “How are the trolls? Are you getting trolled?” Then, “Why did you never tell us about this? You know you can tell us anything.”

She  has (or at least at the time of that writing did have) two parents who are apparently there for her.  I’d suggest sitting down with these parents and having a long talk with them on the subject.  They will almost certainly give the best advice they can on this decision and can do so with practical examples from both their and her own experiences.  And while I may or may not agree with what said advice might be, I’m certain it will flow from their unconditional love for their daughter.

Me I’d sum things up in two sentences:  The secret to a successful marriage is putting up with each other foibles during the 95% of the time when nothing too exciting (good or bad) is going on.

As for Parenthood; The secret to being a good parent is loving your child enough to be willing to enforce an unpleasant rule or speak an uncomfortable truth even when it hurts.

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Yesterday my oldest turned 26 and thus my 26th year of Parenthood is now compete.  Here are a few things I’ve learned.

Just because they have your face your kid isn’t you: Both environment and heredity naturally will play a part in how your kids develop but he reality is your child isn’t you and even if you have the same face (as me and my oldest do) they are not you so don’t assume they will think and react like you automatically.

Children learn by example, not by command: Despite my reputation as “the hardest working man in the blogosphere” I can be both lazy and sloppy, particularly at home (I can hear my wife nodding even in her sleep right now) and both of my sons have picked that up. If there are things you want your kids to grow up being the best way to help that along is to be them.  If there are things you don’t want them to be avoid being them yourself.

Choose your friends/relatives wisely: Who you associate with when your kids are young will make a difference. If you want your children to grow up to be respectful, sober, God fearing and honorable, don’t surround yourself with people who are not these things. I was blessed that my very devout Catholic mother retired just as our 2nd kid was born and she and her 3 devout sisters born from the 1910’s to 1921 spent a lot of time with my sons.  That did a lot to shape them.   Do you have an older relative who is pious and moral? Invite said relative to the house and visit them with your kids. Do you have one who can build things when you can’t?  Visit them too. Is there a relative who is a libertine, a drunkard, a druggie? Keep them as far away as possible.

Time (and the culture) are against you…: You have a real short time to really influence your child before the culture and the internet grab them, make that time count so you are their go to choice for values. Teach them to be good God fearing honest and honorable men or women first and the rest 2nd. They can always learn new skills and trades but it’s hard to learn how to be good if you’re not.

…and is also the most valuable gift you have to give: The thing your kid wants the most from you is your time, presence and approval. Give them every moment of time you can spare (and even time you can’t).  Even if you aren’t doing stuff with them being near or in the same room so they can see you means a lot.  You can always earn more money but your time on earth is limited, make it count.

Make rules early…: If you want limits on your kids you need to set them right away make the rules when they are young and they are likely to keep them and make sure not only them but their friends know them. For example once my kids hit their pre-ten years and started having friends over I made the rules if I had to leave the house: No Booze, No Drugs No Sex and made them (and their friends) repeat the rules. Even after they turned all turned 21 and the booze part was dropped everyone knew that if there was drinking I had custody of everyone’s car keys on demand. If everyone knows the rules up front they may try to bend them but will rarely break them.

…and enforce them ruthlessly: It’s vital to make sure they know that if your rules are broken punishment will come and fast. I don’t care if said punishment is a whack on the ass (highly effective in the early years) a toy or game, broken, thrown out or sold (that will get their attention really fast) a disconnected internet password (not as effective as it once was with so many open networks out there) or even standing in a corner. You need to enforces those limits even if said rules punish you. Kids aren’t stupid, once they know they can get away with stuff, they will.  Furthermore when they do right give them your approval.

YOU are the Parent act like one: Even now at age 26 my sons are only allowed to call me “Peter” in one specific instance (If separated in a crowd they can shout my name to get my attention since shouting “Dad” will make everyone look). You are not your kids friend, you are not your kids playmate, you are not your kids drinking buddy, you are your children’s authority figure and if you are going to have any chance to fight against a culture and a world that wants to use them for their own ends you need to keep that authority. Remember they are kids and no matter how much they protest otherwise or how much society tries to tell you otherwise they don’t know ANYTHING. They’re just as stupid as you were at their age.

Spoiled young likely spoiled forever:: As anybody know it’s much harder to build something than to break something and once broken it’s very hard to fix someone. If you spoil your child because it makes you feel better or because you don’t want to make hem cry or because you want them to just shut up, you and your child will pay for it for a very long time. Spoiling your child isn’t love, it’s a form of narcissism. Think of it this way are you better off with a doctor who tells you whats wrong so it can be fixed or one who says everything is fine so you don’t worry?

It’s not about YOU: Your kids is not your trophy to show off, or a prize to have, or something for your bucket list. From the moment your wife’s belly starts to grow your life isn’t about you, it’s about them. Your life, your budget and your behavior should reflect this and if it doesn’t you, your child, your descendants and even society itself will pay the price.

This is you primary job:  Once you have children your job and your duty is keep them alive and well as you teach them how to be a good adult who can survive on their own and function in the world. It’s not going to be easy, all the norms of a dangerous world are working against you and it’s very possible that you will fail, but it you do make sure it’s not due to lack of effort or attention.

Finally Love your children: St. Paul defines love thus:

Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, (love) is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

1 Cor 13:4-7

In other words seek the best for your children, even if it’s not what they want at that time and even if it risks their temporary anger.

Do these things to the best of your ability and in my experience, you’ll like the results more often than not.

Update: Stacy McCain has some do’s and don’t too, this one is basic:

Isn’t it just common sense that, if you’re looking for advice on how to raise successful kids, you should ask someone with experience as a parent?

Excuse me for bragging on my kids, but if “the personal is political” (to quote Carol Hanisch’s famous feminist slogan) then my experience as a parent of six children ought to count for something in such arguments. Even if you consider that my wife deserves nearly all the credit for our children’s success, at least I can testify as a witness to her motherhood methods.

…but I would think that as a good first rule: Cocaine benders don’t give you a leg up:

Sheen and Mueller have two-year-old twins together. Mueller entered a rehab facility over the weekend after a week of alleged drug binging. Mueller, who currently has custody of twins Bob and Max, reportedly entered the facility as a precautionary step should Sheen’s camp request a drug test.

However, Sheen’s lawyer will ask the judge to grant both legal and physical custody of the boys to the actor, citing Mueller’s alleged drug relapse.

Stacy McCain’s blog post title and first line is classic:

You Might Be a Terrible Mother If … there’s even the slightest chance you could ever lose custody of your kids to Charlie Sheen:

Yeah we laugh at this nonsense but think of these two kids. Anyone want to take odds on their growing up to be head cases? In 20 years would you want your daughter to marry one of em?

This is an object lesson to anyone who feels they are failing their kids due to money problems. These twins will likely have a few coins to rub together, but would any parent in their right mind want their kids, no matter how poor, to trade places with them?

Just as an aside, compare these folks to someone like Michelle Bachmann who in addition to her 5 children has taken care of 23 foster children. Ask yourself honestly if you were a judge and had the choice to grant custody to Sheen Mueller or Bachmann, who would you want raising those kids?