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Last week was a bad sinus week (pressure to the point where I was waiting for my eyes to pop out) and we were running low on groceries. Himself got off work early Saturday night, so we had time to run out to Sam's Club and Wal-Mart on Sunday afternoon.

In Goldsboro, Wal-Mart is a hopping place on weekends and it's pretty crowded compared to the off hours in which we usually go out for groceries. I did my best to ignore the density (I do _not_ like crowds) as we wound up behind a slow-moving woman wrangling a cart and four kids as we headed toward housewares.

Two of the kids were being awfully quiet for being about 5-6 years old. It didn't set off any flags in my head -- they were dressed as if they'd come from church, so maybe they were just well behaved? -- until one of them spun around with something in his hand and BAM! I couldn't see.

Turns out the woman gave the kids laser pointers to play with. It doesn't strike me as a particularly bright thing to do as a general principle, but DO NOT GIVE LASER POINTERS TO YOUR CHILDREN TO PLAY WITH IN A BUSY STORE!

I think this counts as another reason why I think people should have to meet licensing standards to have children. Incidentally, most schools consider laser pointers to be contraband.


Mar. 3rd, 2003 04:35 pm (UTC)
I have a laser pointer and maybe it isn't as strong as the one that was used on you, but what was the damage done, that brought upon this outrage of Laser Pointers?

I'm just wondering?

And as for Licenses...That's just sad...

enough said...
Mar. 3rd, 2003 06:40 pm (UTC)
I'm not against laser pointers, I'm against people giving them to their children to play with in crowded stores and other public places.

I couldn't see out of either eye for several minutes and was unable to see fully out of my right eye for nearly an hour. If I hadn't been out with someone else able to drive, I would have had to subject everyone in that store to my toddler fussing because I do not feel safe driving when I cannot see.

I don't think it's sad to consider the ramifications of parent licensing. It might significantly cut down on the numbers of children born with fetal alcohol syndrome, addicted to drugs, or with problems that could have been prevented if the mother had gotten prenatal medical care or avoided unhealthy lifestyle choices.
Mar. 4th, 2003 06:52 pm (UTC)
Shine it in your eye and then get back to us, ok?
Mar. 5th, 2003 08:39 am (UTC)
As for having a laser pointed into my eyes, yes I've had that done to me, Yes it was annoying..But ya know...I GOT OVER IT!!..
I told the kid who did it something, and left it alone.
Would I let my children run wild with one HELL NO...It's not right. But ya can't control everyone's child and I can't help that some aren't being taught the right thing, No maybe their parents are but they're just not listening to orders correctly.
I'm sure you did some of the things your parents told you not to do, I know I in truth didn't always listen.

But thanks for the suggestion...
Mar. 5th, 2003 09:18 am (UTC)
Just my 2 cents on the Parenting Issues
And as for your Child Control Issue,

Yes, you have some good points, But not all children born mentally ill are due to the lack of anything on a parents part.
My mother never abused drugs, didn't even drink or smoke until way after she had had the last of her kids, and you know what my sister is Mentally handicapped.
But what you're trying to tell me is that my sister shouldn't be allowed to live because of what choice the Gods had in her making.
Yes, there should be more available programs for soon to be parents and for those with problem prone children.
But you can't honestly deny someone the right to bear and raise a child, just because it doesn't fit your standards..

Maybe the child mentioned in the other persons post was just having one of those Days. Yes, I believe strongly that they shouldn't have brought their child to a public place, but what would you all have wanted that parent to do. Especially when you can't spank(and I'm not talking about BEATING) or even yell nowadays at your own child, without someone calling it ABUSE and threating to take them from you.
I think the problem is more and more parents are scared of going to jail. See I've been told I'm not allowed to spank my kids or yell at them, so when Grounding them doesn't work...WHAT THE HELL AM I SUPPOSED TO DO?
And I took the classes,and I read the books,I've got 3 yrs of child development and psychology under my belt, But I've had family counslers,and only because I'm going through a divorce and my children need someone other than myself to talk to.
But I'm not perfect and I don't think I have all the answers or the right ones even though most would think I'm doing everything that can be done.And ALL doc's have told me Children go through many fazes,They've told me dont' sweat the lil stuff but don't ignore the big things either.
And I haven't......
Would you like it that in 10-15 yrs someone tell you,"You shouldn't have ever been allowed to breed!"
See what everyone isn't thinking is, that maybe right now your child is God's gift to the well behaved..But what about a few yrs down the line when they decide to rebel and hate you and tell you they wish you were dead or that maybe they wish they were dead.
What then?...Would you still have put yourself through the "you can't breed line" at the local government office?
Or is it because you feel you're children are being raised right and you're the best at the job that your children be allowed to live and others have to never know the breath of live.You never know maybe your way, wouldn't be seen as the right way, if this was to be put into law,and then who would you be crying for?

Like I said, Yes, you have a good Idea on the whole Parenting skills Issues..Yes, we need more Programs, yes, some children need more help than others.
But sadly the government just doesn't care about children and the really important issues concerning our world or OUR country today.
But what I most strongly feel is that no one should be allowed to dictate who gets to come to God's green Earth and who doesn't. God has that Choice and If he didn't want half these Heathens here, he would have found a way I'm sure to not make them happen.Think about it, if we implemented your system,alot of important ppl would never have been born and Alot of things,Important things would have never been discovered.

And no I'm not some bible thumping Christian,or some extreme Liberal.
But I do believe the God's have their reasons for everything and Everyone..

Well, Hope everyone has a good day/evening
And I really hope none of you ever have to swallow(eat) your "my children would never!" words.

My the Gods Bless you and them...
Mar. 5th, 2003 09:32 am (UTC)
Re: Just my 2 cents on the Parenting Issues
I hate children.
Mar. 5th, 2003 11:11 pm (UTC)
1. I never said mental illnesses or handicaps were caused by maternal behavior during gestation. I did say that that licensing or community accountability programs could lessen problems caused by unhealthy lifestyle choices while pregnant and issues correctable before birth if caught by prenatal health care.

2. Do not put words in my mouth. I have never said your sister should not be allowed to live (regardless of her handicap), that any parental licensing would incorporate my standards, or that I am not thinking there will be days when my child does not behave.

3. I have a very hard time believing your educational claims. You don't do yourself any favors by posting comments in a manner best described as "in need of a remedial English course." Using correct grammar, punctuation, capitalization and spelling helps you to be considered a potentially credible source. It's also a good rule of thumb to let any post or comment that upsets you sit overnight before responding.

Your comments here have devolved from asking a legitimate question in an awkward manner to insulting me and a myriad of groups, and it's become annoying to read your poorly constructed comments. Please do not comment in my LJ again.
Mar. 5th, 2003 09:28 am (UTC)
Dang, you're hostile. Have some Valium.
(Deleted comment)
Mar. 3rd, 2003 06:38 pm (UTC)
There are two theaters in this town (not counting the base theater) and both have signs prominently posted at the ticket window that say NO LASER POINTERS IN THEATER. Apparently Wal-Mart hasn't had enough complaints to post a similar sign, but they do have one reminding patrons to put out their cigarettes before going into the store.

It's great fun to have pets chase a laser pointer's beam! My sister used to have a rat terrier that would do that. It amused me for hours to watch the dog bark and chase the light, but we cut back on it after my brother got the dog to run into a door. (The dog wasn't very bright, but my brother knew better.)

I'm generally annoyed with the lack of manners among children lately. I wasn't raised addressing adults as ma'am or sir, but I did get the gamut with please and thank you, writing thank you notes, and behaving in public. We do the same with Laurel and I'm surprised every time here when someone tells us we have a very well-behaved child because she says thank you or we take her outside when she yells in a store, restaurant, etc.. She's also encouraged to address adults with Miss/Mr. or other title, so when our friend Ken (who's always told us it's fine for her to call him just by his first name) visited the other day, she looked at him and asked, "Uncle?".

Robert and I both yelled in surprise after I got the laser beam in my eye, but mine was out of shock (I initially thought my glasses had vanished off my face because I couldn't see -- without them I'm extremely nearsighted) and his was because I couldn't see him and accidentally dogged his heels with the cart. He started after them to tell them not to point the laser pointers at people, but they sped up and disappeared, so he came back and navigated me to the pharmacy area so I could sit down until I could see a bit more.
Mar. 3rd, 2003 05:14 pm (UTC)
I just got a lecture last week by a British liberal for suggesting that very thing on LJ. I think my flippant comment was along the lines of: They require licenses for driving, owning a dog and throwing block parties--among less important things, so why the hell don't they for having kids?!

Of course, I was only 1/8 kidding.

Fucking breeders...
Mar. 3rd, 2003 06:16 pm (UTC)
Go figure, I get told I'm a bleeding-heart liberal all the time.

I'm fervently in favor of licensing to become a parent. I've had enough experience with children born with problems -- fetal alcohol syndrome, born addicted to illegal drugs, born to parents who lack parenting skills or other skills that enable abuse -- that could be all but eradicated if people had to meet standards before getting pregnant that I think it's a great idea.

Usually when I voice that I get accused of being anti-children or not having any children myself, but I've got the documentation to back up my childbearing status. To me, requiring parenting licenses isn't against children -- it's looking out for their welfare.

Today's episode of NPR's All Things Considered had a feature on a family court program in Florida that helped parents whose children were taken away from them by offering parenting skills courses, education and employment help, etc.. Thousands of families (not all low-income or -education, but disproportionately lower class) nationwide could benefit from programs free to them that would help them be better parents, but sometimes I think it's a matter of greater exposure for a lot of those programs; here in NC the Smart Start Initiative offers all sorts of help to low-income families.

The Family Service Center on our base offers courses on parenting, finances, and other life skills -- free with a valid military ID. I have to find when their next parenting courses are because I've only taken their age-specific ones through the toddler years.
Mar. 3rd, 2003 07:31 pm (UTC)
Personally, I think being in favor of parental licensing counts firmly as being PRO-children. It's not doing kids a favor to let them run wild like little banshees.
(Deleted comment)
Mar. 5th, 2003 03:08 am (UTC)
*nods* Indeed. I think mandatory parenting classes (as suggested by others in response to my post) would be a more feasible idea now.
Mar. 5th, 2003 03:07 am (UTC)
Thank you. It's nice to see someone else thinks it's pro-children.

BTW, love the usericon.
Mar. 5th, 2003 07:00 am (UTC)
Thanks! You can make one at Reasonablyclever.com. You have to have a program like Paint Shop or Photoshop to turn your creation into an icon.

We're fairly strict with our son as far as his behavior goes - manners, politeness, etc., and he doesn't seem to be suffering one bit. Quite the contrary, in fact.
Mar. 3rd, 2003 11:27 pm (UTC)
Wow, you've really researched this!

I totally agree with the growing up background--mine was very similar. In fact, I was more afraid of my dad's discipline or disapproval than that of any other adult or authority figure because he was so aware of the right way to do things. And, as an adult I have NEVER let kids get away with that kind of thing.

Did you see my post or recent comment about the shit-ass kid in the adjacent dining room at Olive Garden at 10 PM on a recent Sunday nite? The kid was old enough to know better--about 4 or 5--but her parents and older siblings were DEFINITELY old enough to know better.

This kid proceeded to ruin every other diner's dinner due to her non-stop screaming for over an hour before her paunchy dad and cellulite-ass mother got their lazy asses up and finally meandered out. We kept getting up and peering over the plants and dividers to their table and glaring hatefully at them. I complained to the waiter innumerable times and here were my suggestions (in addition to my standard "Management needs to be more concerned with the paying disgruntled patrons, not the rude assholes of the restaurant who are allowed to disturb everyone else!"):

"Bring me a rubber and I'll throw it at the father and tell him, 'Next time--use THIS!!'"

When a waitress offered us free ballons for our table I told her, "Bring me a condom and I'll blow it up and hand it to the family whose kid needed to have never been born!"

When the fam left, I stood up and led an ovation of applause and hoots at their departure. The mother was very pissed, then returned and fake-smiled, waving tauntingly at us through the window. I flipped her off with both hands and called her a fucking whore--until my family had to push me back into my seat. Guess I gave the wait staff a scare, too.

But, hell--she just pushed my buttons, the dumb c***.
Mar. 5th, 2003 01:41 am (UTC)
Actually, I've only begun on research. I was introduced to the concept of community asset-building a few years ago when a non-profit group that encourages it formed in my hometown. I still think some of the women involved are a little flaky (you'd have to visit Evergreen to see -- it makes more sense seeing them in context) but the ideas behind it are just something I can throw myself behind.

It's funny, because I've ranted for ages about the importance of giving meaningful work (and I agree with Mr. Rogers that play is work for young children) to everyone in a community so every member is able to feel valued and be expected to be a productive member of the various groups they belong to in their community.

I didn't see your post about the poorly-behaved children at Olive Garden on a Sunday night, but I'm disgusted that the parents allowed their children to behave that way. The first time Laurel screams in a restaurant, she goes outside with one of us. It's uncomfortable (though not dangerous, just not pleasant) when it's chilly or raining, but she's learning quickly to find other ways to handle when she's frustrated in someplace like a restaurant.

My parents used to let me carry around a little bag of things to amuse myself when we went out to do errands (a great example of teaching personal accountability). While it's funny now to share the story about the time four-year-old me pulled out a little pocket telescope to inspect the flame in a food brazier at a Chinese restaurant, it went a long way toward teaching me that there were appropriate ways to behave while waiting.

Laurel's not quite big enough to carry her own "waiting bag" yet (her raincoat has a little zip-off bag that matches it, but she's still working on keeping her shoes on) but right now I carry a few colored pencils and a notepad for her to color/"write" in when we have to wait. I'm still coming up with other things to help her since she doesn't yet like to sing or count "one, two, three -- green light!" when the car's stopped.

I don't think parents should refrain from taking their children to restaurants, but if they choose not to teach their children the self-discipline to behave in them (or back up taking them outside when they disrupt the peace inside) they should seriously consider just ordering carry-out.

On a related note, a lot of what formed my views on children behaving in public came before I even considered having children myself.

When I was in elementary school, we had several neighbors who modeled poor parenting skills. My mother (far more perceptive than I realized until after I graduated from high school) gently pointed their behavior out to us in ways that while not outright denigrating, made it abundantly clear that their behavior was not how responsible parents acted.

I'm going to post a second reply (character limits in comments) about more of the examples that reinforced why I don't want to model poor parenting skills with my daughter.
Mar. 11th, 2003 12:52 am (UTC)
Wow. This is so well-thought out, not to mention insightful.

You have a most sensible approach to parenting and it is people like US who should be the only ones able to reproduce, huh?

Thanks for all this info--I'm going to save it and refer back to it...
Mar. 5th, 2003 02:06 am (UTC)
[continued from the previous comment]

My father's baby sister (she's in her mid-40s, but she acts very childishly) had her first child at 17. My grandmother did her best to model good parenting to both of her children, but Irma seemingly ignored it and insists to this day she hates my grandmother because she divorced my grandfather. (Grandpa Art is an abusive and rude person; it amazes me that they didn't divorce earlier.) Irma passed off child-raising duties to my grandmother and subsequently had another child six years later. Grandma raised the second child too, but then my older cousin started dating one of his mother's coworkers (a Head Start preschool teacher) ten years his senior and she got pregnant when he was 15. They had four children in six years who've been mostly raised by my grandma (she resents that her grandson treats her like his mother does, but helps out of a sense of duty) and the children's maternal grandparents, who keep them in a single room when they're staying with them.

My cousin and his common-law wife have modeled such horrible behavior for their children that I'm sometimes ashamed to acknowledge I'm related to them.

The oldest has an overeating problem and stridently yells at anyone that gets too near her food. The second-oldest shows great artistic ability, but I fear she'll develop an eating disorder since my cousin constantly tells her "you're too pretty to become a fat pig like your mother and sister". I've only met the younger two (both boys) in passing, but I've heard about their behavior from my siblings, who have seen them more recently. When the youngest was four (about two years ago), the children and their parents invited my sister and her fiance to have lunch with them at a pizza and salad buffet. Once my cousin and his c-w wife sat down, they let the kids run rampant around the restaurant. My sister (the high school teacher) got up several times and reprimanded them to stay at the table and behave, but she finally lost her temper when she caught their youngest child FINGERING THINGS IN THE SALAD BAR. She got the attention of an employee to replace the food Andrew stuck his hands in, but she was seriously thinking about yelling at my cousin and his wife for not expecting their children to behave in public and trying to keep them out of trouble.

My cousin recently decided he is gay and wants minimal contact with the children. His common-law wife has filed for divorce and hopes to get child support, but she's unable to work because she has lupus and he makes very little since he dropped out of high school and at 27 makes little effort to handle his money responsibly. Neither of them have a place of their own (he mooches off my grandma, she alternates between her parents' and her sister, and the children are shuffled around regularly)

The only positive thing I can say about this is that they're an excellent example of a family that has slipped through the cracks. It's too late now to intervene with advice on family planning (my tia says "four is not an accident" and I agree) but it's not too late to require them to take parenting and life skills courses, somehow impel them to gain further education or job skills that could help them get employment that would allow them to support their children, and get them on the road to being financially independent.

And I haven't even gotten to our family friend whose oldest daughter is a crackwhore (no sarcasm intended) who lives off the disability she claims on three of her children -- all were born addicted to drugs and have multiple problems, but three in particular are her "rent" (bipolar), "groceries" [severe asthma) and "entertainment" (multiple emotional problems).

I used to cry, but now I'm just trying to change things because it's all I can do other than complain.
Mar. 3rd, 2004 04:10 pm (UTC)
I realize this is really old, but... your parents raised you to be polite, you say? What happened?
Mar. 4th, 2003 10:48 am (UTC)
I suppose the idea of parental licensing makes me uncomfortable because who decides who gets licensed, and under what standards? What if someone decides that gay people shouldn't be parents because it increases the likelihood for sexual abuse? (hard as it may be to believe, that argument does hold credence in some circles.) Sexual orientation, ethnic background ("we don't want little terrorists being raised in our country"), religion ("Witches, don't they ritually kill babies? Better make sure they can't have any"), age(too old or to young), and possibly even philosophical ideas are up for grabs ("They're with Greenpeace? They're way too militant to make good parents...")

I know that may sound like a lot of hyperbole, but once control of who gets to have children is put in the hands of an outside agency, that agency is free to pursue their own agenda, whatever that may be. There was a time, not too long ago in history, when Jews were forcibly sterilized because they were percieved as a "lesser race."
Mar. 4th, 2003 10:32 pm (UTC)
Re: dangers
You've got some really really good points, there.

If there was some sort of parenting license, well, I'm gay, young, and single. I wanted a baby really really badly, but didn't want to have to lie and say that I was in a long term heterosexual relationship with fertility problems to be able to get IVF. (I'm in Australia... I don't know what it's like in the US, but over here you can't get IVF if you're single or gay). So in the end I had to ask a man I knew if he wouldn't mind sleeping with me so I could get pregnant.

If I can't get IVF, how on earth would I be able to get a parenting licence.

Although I do agree that the licence idea is a good one, I also don't believe that my government is intelligent/trustworthy/discerning enough to be authorized to give out these licenses.
Mar. 5th, 2003 02:04 am (UTC)
Re: dangers
See my above comment on how I should have said "community accountability to make sure children aren't slipping through the cracks" instead of "licensing". I stand humbly corrected.

I don't think sexual orientation, age, or any other sociological factors should prevent someone from parenting that has a stated desire to and is willing to commit to the work required to raise a child that's a productive member of their community.
Mar. 5th, 2003 12:59 am (UTC)
Re: dangers
That's a great argument against licensing. Thank you.

Perhaps what I should have said is that I would like a system of community-based accountability to help keep children from slipping through the cracks. Behavior like enabling children to be a nuisance (and potentially dangerous) in public strikes me as something that a required parenting skills class or more pervasive community expectations could curb.

I don't think a program to help parents would work at a federal or state level because both involve too much bureaucracy -- and that would take away from the interpersonal connection that would let a community-level program to improve parenting skills work.

My thoughts are a little scattered here, but something like a loose network of local initiatives to help parents be better is what I'd like to see. I use the word "better" in terms of raising children in a non-harmful environment, giving them the greatest amount of opportunities to be involved with others in a positive way, and reinforcing good citizenship, education, etc.. To me, sexual orientation, religion and similar factors aren't as important to parenting as a commitment to raising healthy and respectful children who feel they have value and can contribute in a meaningful way to their world.
Mar. 3rd, 2003 08:16 pm (UTC)
I totally agree on the licensing. However, I know in reality it would never happen. All the "who decides" questions and other sci-fi horror stories would prevent that.
HOWEVER, there should be mandatory, realistic classes on health & child rearing in all schools and all parents-to-be or new parents should be required to go through parenting classes. If you don't take the class you would be fined until you do take it.
Just because someone has genitals doesn't mean they're mentally or socially equipped to raise a child.
Mar. 4th, 2003 10:52 am (UTC)
good idea
That is actually a very good idea for a compromise position. I like it. However, if the classes are required by law they should be free or at least on a sliding scale. Otherwise, poor people are put in a pretty compromising position... more so than they already are, at any rate.
Mar. 5th, 2003 02:12 am (UTC)
*nods* See my above comment on community accountability to help children. I should have said that instead of licensing. (I should also work on developing my thoughts better before posting them, but that's a constant struggle for me.)

I heartily endorse mandatory parenting classes. While stories about people first learning how to diaper their children are funny, I'd rather hear about people being able to solve problems by using ideas they learned from parenting classes or well-modeled parenting skills they've observed. My latest example is that of my parents' modeling of skills leading me to immediately rush my daughter into the shower for an eye wash after she got cough syrup in her eyes while trying to fight taking it. If I hadn't had that history of skills my parents modeled, it would have taken much longer to occur to me to do that and I don't know what that might have done to her eyes.
Mar. 3rd, 2003 09:53 pm (UTC)
I have laser pointers for use with the cats, because they love to chase the little read dot on the floor. And if they look at me I scream, "Don't look at the light!!!" I'm *so* afraid of blinding them! LOL

You know I'm in total favor of licensing!! Some people just have NO common sense.
Mar. 5th, 2003 02:57 am (UTC)
My baby sister's (not very bright) dog used to look at it all the time... of course, this is the same dog my brother got to run into the door at a good speed running after the red dot.

I've decided that common sense is like soy milk -- underappreciated yet handy to have.
Mar. 3rd, 2004 08:05 pm (UTC)
When my husband adopted my son, a social worker had to come to the house and meet with him to see if he was competent to be Chaz's father. He went through some scrutiny but I always thought it was interesting because his sperm donor didn't have to 'qualify' or be asked a trillion questions about HIS character or history.


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