It’s OK

29 11 2008

Please. Tell your children it’s OK. The economy sucks and it’s hard to find a job or find the money for college. But you are not expecting them to solve all these problems. That their room is still there. That you’ve fed and housed and clothed them all these years because you love them and not because you were waiting for the clock to run out.

Tell them to wave the guy at the mall off. The one with the military brochures. Tell them that’s not an answer and you really do know something about this and life can be long and wonderful, if it’s not stolen from you at 18, and you will all get through this together.

That’s what you celebrated at Thanksgiving, wasn’t it? How much you love and cherish your family, including that 6-footer who used to be your baby?

Don’t let them fall for the lines of the hucksters in uniform who prey on their fears about the future. Help them. As you always have.

Nance

Advertisements

Actions

Information

41 responses

29 11 2008
JJ

We were posting at the same time. I should’ve made my title part two to yours as part one — “when learning is life and death!”

It hadn’t occurred to me that terrorist fearmongering would be replaced in the recruiting line with economic fearmongering. Duh. Or maybe it’s not replacement as much as recycling. . .

30 11 2008
COD

The military is not automatically a bad choice for kids. I’ve seen plenty of kids that simply need that level of rigor and routine in their lives to function well. Kids that didn’t do well in school and appeared to have no ambition in life came out of basic training much better than they went in. Some people need to be told what to do with every moment of their day.

Whether it’s nature, or a certain kind of nurturing by the schools, that turns out young adults that need to be told what to do with every moment of their day is something to argue about.

30 11 2008
JJ

Interesting — so do you think the kids you’ve seen, would have found more purpose and done better in school if it had been MORE rigid and structured? Or less?

30 11 2008
Nance Confer

This wasn’t an article about more or less structure or growing up and into whatever sort of an adult you’re going to be.

This was an article about preying on young and inexperienced people who see no other options in this economy.

Nance

1 12 2008
SabrinaT

I have to say it saddens me that you believe and feel this way. The vast majority of those serving HONORABLE in the military do so for many reasons. If you look statistically at the services (taking into account all 5 branches of services) you would understand that many of the people serving are educated, or choose to join for the chance to specialize in something specific. i.e. SEALS, SARS, SEAR, RANGERS..

1 12 2008
JJ

Sabrina, you’re welcome here but you need to pay attention if you plan to join in. My dad was a very poor southern boy who aspired to an air force academy as his only way of attending college, and then served honorably. I was born on a military base myself. It helped our whole family rise into academia (both my parents and I ended up with advanced degrees.)

As Nance says, that isn’t the point of this story. To me it connects with all the stories about protecting our kids mentally, physically and spiritually from exploitation, keeping the fearmongers from grabbing our kids by (as Lou Gossett Jr says in Officer and a Gentleman) “any means, fair of unfair” — pulling them into their institutions and enterprises and belief systems, from cults to sports to drugs to sex with dirty old men.

As a thinking mother and citizen, I was (still am) outraged over what Bill Clinton did to Monica Lewinsky, although I am not against the presidency or against sex or against young women working in politics. You see?

1 12 2008
JJ

Chris said above the military is “actually not a bad CHOICE.” Key word there being choice.

It’s each child’s independent freedom and informed choice, without being misled by anyone else’s agenda. This is what philosophy professor Rob Reich suspects home education of infringing btw, overinvolved parents using kids to their own ends. He calls it “ethical servility.”

I disagree with Reich about it being inherent in homeschooling and that the public could do any better at protecting kids from it. But I agree with him that it’s wrong, even when well-meaning parents do it and CERTAINLY when the government does it.

1 12 2008
JJ

And — ta-da — protecting kids from ethical servility including the dazzle or desperation that might be exploited by a recruiter of any kind, is what real education is meant to accomplish in the first place!

1 12 2008
Nance Confer

Sabrina —

I support your right to enlist. Go sign up for whatever service you want.

But do so because that’s what you choose.

Not because you feel trapped in a bad economy and some guy at the mall slips you a brochure.

Nance

1 12 2008
JJ

That’s how I feel about poor Bristol Palin, sigh. Pregnant at 16, now what?

You WANT to drop out of school and live in the wilderness as a teenaged mother keeping house for a redneck with no high school diploma either, taking your pentecostal preacher’s word that this is all god’s wonderful plan, see how he’s rewarding your mom for taking everything on faith instead of getting a real education? Not my idea of informed consent.

Obviously the Golden Rule of Parenting applies — we can’t interfere with how each other’s children are being raised, if we want to raise our own children without interference. OTOH, we all uneasily recognize the need for a framework of protective policy within which parents exercise that freedom while meeting their responsibilities to the children and to the society, too.

At bottom, this is the only thing we ever really debate. And can never resolve.

1 12 2008
JJ

Why shouldn’t military recruiter ethics be at least as stringent working with American kids and families, as ethics observed working against adult enemies fighting in foreign lands?

Chronicle of Higher Education, Government & Politics Q&A
December 5, 2008

In the next few weeks, members of the American Anthropological Association are expected to vote on new ethical guidelines . . . driven by concerns over the roles of social scientists in several military and intelligence programs. . . in Afghanistan and Iraq.

David H. Price, an associate professor of anthropology at Saint Martin’s University, in Washington, was involved in discussions on the ethics changes. . .”Is deceit being used? Do people have the opportunity without consequence to talk to social scientists doing work? Is there really voluntary informed consent without any sort of consequence?”

And this sounds like it could have been written just for Nance’s mall recruiters!

The thing about research involving human beings is … usually, methodologically, the best way to find something out about another person is probably unethical. It might be illegal, too, but that’s a separate question.

If you want to find out what I’m really thinking, tap my phone. Read my e-mail. Pretend to be my friend and come into my life and my world and all this, that, and the other. It’s a far better way than asking me in a formal interview, and methodologically — not worrying about ethics — that’s far superior.
We need real thoughtful ethics codes because we’re always tempted.

1 12 2008
Nance Confer

Even as stunted as I might consider Bristol Palin’s future to be thanks to atrocious parenting, at least nobody is shooting at her.

We care about ethics in all sorts of situations but let things slide on some special occasions. Like when there aren’t enough people willing to be shot at.

I have now heard of two families in my small circle with children bringing home this “solution” to what they should do with their lives. Not for any sort of long-held patriotic urge to serve. But because jobs are hard to find.

I know it happens in every war. And it’s wrong.

It’s wrong that we give kids the message that they should be able to make it on their own, no matter what the economy or they personally are up to, once they turn 18. And it’s wrong that we encourage decisions that are life-threatening.

Nance

1 12 2008
JJ

You’re right.

1 12 2008
Crimson Wife

Why single out the military for your condemnation? Plenty of other occupations require the individual to place his/her safety at risk in the service of others. Do you have a problem with recruiters for law enforcement, firefighting, security guard companies, etc.?

I’m all for requiring military recruiters to be honest- my DH was lied to by his ROTC recruiter who falsely promised him that he would be able to serve his commitment in the Reserves while going to graduate school on the Army’s dime (hah!)

But I fail to see why there’s any difference between an 18 year old becoming a cop and another 18 year old becoming a Marine…

1 12 2008
Nance Confer

I fail to see any difference either.

If the recruitment is being done along the lines of the military recruitment described in the article.

And if the cop is sent to Iraq.

Nance

1 12 2008
JJ

Did you also fail to see Sabrina failing to see the difference between “condemnation of the military” and condemnation of trawling for kids who aren’t looking to enlist, scaring them into thinking that’s the only way, that they really haven’t any choice if they want to be adults their family can be proud of?

Sports recruiting has its own problems and dangers, therefore its own heavily regulated ethical rules. But Nance is right that nothing is really comparable to the military, during two wars and a frightening economy, luring teens into the line of enemy fire by undermining their belief in themselves to do anything else useful but fight, kill and die.

1 12 2008
Crimson Wife

Why is dying in the line of duty on the streets of Baghdad any worse than dying in the line of duty in South Central L.A.? In both cases, the individual’s life has been tragically cut short.

There have been 121 law enforcement deaths so far in 2008, out of a total of around 700,000 officers (0.02% casualty rate). There have been 294 U.S. military deaths in Iraq so far in 2008, out of a total of 513,000 who’ve been stationed there for part of 2008 (0.06% casualty rate). So the chances of being KIA in Iraq aren’t really all that much higher than the chances of being KIA as a cop here in the U.S.

1 12 2008
JJ

More die in car crashes by far but the government didn’t lure them into that as test dummies.

2 12 2008
Nance Confer

CW, the point is not that more people die doing something. The point is whether or not they were lied to when they signed up for it. And whether or not they can quit.

And, I suppose for the purposes of your analogy, which town you are policing. My little burg versus South Central LA. If all the soldiers could choose where they would be stationed and they could all choose safe spots or quit, then the comparison might hold.

Now, if a chunk of policemen are signing up because they don’t think they have other choices in a bad economy and they are being sold on policing as a good alternative and then they are being sent to the most dangerous neighborhoods . . . then I would object to that to . . . but that’s not what the article is about.

The article is about preying on the financial problems of military recruits. Lying to very young people who are in difficult financial situations. Lying to people about the proposition by encouraging them to think about the economic benefits and ignore the risk to life and limb.

You know that fishing show where they catch, I think, crabs or, the last one I saw, it was thousands of those fish that end up in McDonald’s fish sandwiches? That’s a very risky job. And physically and emotionally draining if not damaging. But those people are paid top dollar and, from what I have seen of the show, there is no secret about the dangers of the job. And they can quit.

And, with all the dangers on board one of these big fishing factories, nobody is shooting at them.

Just like nobody is shooting at the cops in my neighborhood. Or most neighborhoods in America.

Nance

2 12 2008
Nance Confer

We did have a high-speed chase the other day , though.

And the officer even got to use his taser. For no discernible reason since the guy on the motorcycle was already knocked off his bike and laying in the bushes. But still. We have crime. Sort of.

Maybe some of those young soldiers could get jobs directing traffic around here. We could use it.

Nance

2 12 2008
betty malone

I vaguely remember about 20 years ago, perhaps 15, there was a real growth in “war toys”, which had not been that available before then. I think perhaps, there was some lingering anti Viet Nam war feeling for about 10 years in the toy market..and war toys were just out..Legos ruled and fantasy action figures and Star Wars..

Then suddenly like I said, war toys became popular again..and a friend of mine, a psychologist working with children, told me..Watch for War to become popular..again. His point was that children had to be prepped to become soldiers, and that wargames, war toys was part of that preparation. That is wasn’t a conspiracy but with Desert Storm, as a culture we began to “prepare” our children to grow up to become soldiers. And we did, and they have..and I hear the praise for our soldiers, which they deserve..but I think they’ve all been snookered by the rest of society..to go forth, to enlist, to fight and die…for …….what?? Uh,,let’s see..oh yes, to spread democracy to a country that really wasn’t quite ready for it..and to fight…what..oh yes, terrorism..hmm…couldn’t we just have enlisted them in police forces around the country..and saved a lot of lives, and recruited them to join police agencies to fight terrosim, who know, the kind who pay insurance benefits, and have job benefits, and vacations, etc…

I choose policing over soldiering any day..and I’ve always been proud of raising three strongly independent, brave young men who are just as anti-war as their mother, but brave with their words and actions. They fight battles with pen and paper, and their walk…every day.

2 12 2008
JJ Ross

I like this governmental full disclosure, truth-in-choice idea Nance has going. Supposedly we did it with education in Florida, stopped setting people up with lying about property taxes back in the 80s (the TRIM bill, Truth in Millage requirements) and required school “accountability” data be reported to the public.

Alas, both sounded good in concept, flopped in execution. Like the We Stand for Homeschooling petition. In effect they didn’t inform and empower, and most of us policy types think they actually made misinformation for choice and individual decision-making worse. So don’t trust people who have their own agenda to tell you the straight scoop, especially government or other organizations with any sort of money and authority to control your choices including the military, ministries, politicians and political lobbies, school/university authorities, even your mother-in-law especially if she has money you need and hope she’ll share with your kids. Whole truth and full ethical disclosure of interests just isn’t likely; it requires “eternal vigilance” from the best intelligence I can generate, which is what I always thought those words really meant (not just spying on Russia from my house and sending my kids off to fight, kill and die.)

Look at what universities are doing to kids economically, to cripple or kill their credit and future earning capacity.

It’s only human. People can’t know themselves, the extent to which they care about themselves rather than the targets of their “information”, and if they can’t, you sure can’t! Again, witness military recruiters, cult leaders and preachers with their own power base congregations, political parties, the AARP, and yes, We Stand for HS (not in scope but for its inability to see its own conflict of interest in “helping” other families with its “information.”)

If school charter choice info were put in a blind knowledge trust by the WSfHS signers then I’d gladly send them my money and support, as truly HELPING parents. Until then, it is too likely to be unethical exploitation putting my direct interests first, over other families and kids.

We’re outraged when the government quietly sets up military press conferences to look independent when it isn’t, and when the Ed Dept pays off seemingly not-paid talking heads like Armstrong Williams to endorse its policies as good for us common folk and the country. Again, like We Stand imo — there’s no better argument for getting everybody’s children educated without religious, political or profit agenda, than this need for all citizens to grow up individually able to defend and protect themselves from disinformation and exploitation. But none of our children is ready at 18 to be thrown to the wolves (or guns) without some public protection from public exploitation. All is NOT fair in love and war.

2 12 2008
Crimson Wife

Actually, Betty, the Army’s benefits were a lot more generous than what many jobs offer. I may have had any number of complaints about the quality of the health insurance but we paid no premiums, deductibles, cost-shares, or co-pays including full prescription drug coverage. We also received free housing including basic utilities. The commissary’s prices were lower than what civilian groceries charge. My DH also received something like 30 days paid vacation per year. He was offered a 401k-type retirement plan (something only about 60% of U.S. workers have access to) in addition to a guaranteed pension after 20 years’ service (something almost no private sector employers offer to new hires these days). And all that was on top of the Army paying 80% of his Stanford tuition.

The generous benefits were one of the positives of the 5 years we spent as a military family.

I would personally neither encourage nor discourage my children from joining the military. It had both its good points and bad points for my DH. The same can be said for his current private sector job.

3 12 2008
JJ

Then why not put your kids in public school, too, since the “benefits” are good compared to paying for it all yourself?

3 12 2008
Crimson Wife

The only real benefit I can see to our local government-run school is that it would be free childcare from 8-3 for 9 months per year. And that’s not all that big a deal since I’m already home with our 3 yr old and expecting another baby next month.

Homeschooling doesn’t really cost us a lot of extra money because I don’t use an independent-study program or much in the way of traditional curricula. Most of what I spend money on are things I’d get regardless of whether or not we homeschooled- memberships to local museums, a subscription to the family series at the symphony, educational games & toys, arts & crafts supplies, literature & reference books, etc. Plus I’ve been fortunate that a bunch of families in my support group have “freecycled” materials their own kids outgrew.

3 12 2008
betty malone

CW,
I think that you’re right about the benefits reason for joining the military, if that is the carefully thought out reason. My father was in the army during Korea, and part of my college was paid for by his benefits..among some other things..but my father was disabled permanently in Korea…and the sacrifice far outweighed the benefits we received. My father left for Korea a hopeful young intelligent capable man….and returned broken…and lost to us on many levels. War does terrible things to the men and women who have to be on the front lines. My brother died in Viet Nam. So perhaps my anti soldiering beliefs come from both of those losses…especially since my life was so tragically altered by their sacrifices. My father joined to receive those benefits, to go to college, we were a poor family and back then college loans were not widely available. He saw it as a hope for the future, probably much like the young men and women enlisting. I just want those young men and women to not feel trapped or pushed into something that will or could easily claim their futures. Do we want a toss of the die for them?

3 12 2008
Nance Confer

Thank you, Betty, for explaining first-hand what I have been trying to say.

Nance

3 12 2008
JJ

CW, that was a rhetorical question.

The point was that such choices aren’t some bloodless cost-benefit analysis, and then you just do whatever the dollars say is a good deal. This really is the stuff of LIFE. You know that old put-down punchline: “well, now that we’ve established what you are, all we have to do is find your price.”

3 12 2008
Crimson Wife

But if we’re being rational, we *DO* carefully consider the pros and cons before making a decision. Otherwise we’re just being swayed by emotions like fear- isn’t that what the original post was about? One should not join the military out of (economic) fear, but one should also not avoid joining out of fear (for one’s personal safety).

3 12 2008
JJ

The split between thinking and feeling is over, didn’t you get the memo? 😉

Even the most rational among us are kidding ourselves if we think emotions (and a lot of not-so-rational retroactive rationalizing of gut instinct) don’t play a major part in our decision-making.

3 12 2008
NanceConfer

One should not seek to persuade impressionable and economically stressed young people to weight financial gain over personal safety.

That’s what I think the original article was about.

Not some reasoned decision by an adult with different career options.

But pressuring the youngest adults who may not have the perspective required to make such an important decision.

Nance

3 12 2008
betty malone

Not only that they are impressionable, but that our government is using my tax money to pressure them..but hey…we’ve pretty well all had taxation without representation on a whole helluva lot of issues these days, haven’t we?

Youth, choices, war, death…yeah…I definitely think we need much more emphasis on the death side of this career choice…Read some Hemingway, or some of the great writing that was done on Viet Nam.

12 12 2008
sunniemom

I didn’t read any comments yet- I wanted to respond to this post without getting sidetracked.

If one’s child is not weak-willed and weak-minded, they will not fall prey to any sort of huckster. They need to know to investigate and ask as many questions as they want until they are comfortable with their decision.

My oldest wanted to go into the military from the time he was 15. He wanted the training and the challenges. He believes the military is about defending our country from danger, foreign and domestic, and in the 2+ years he has been in the Army, he hasn’t seen anything to prove that idea wrong, even though we know in any organization there are honorable people and there are slime. His recruiter was a peach- very honest during the whole process. DS is now the company commander’s personal driver, which means when he goes to Iraq in May, he will be his bodyguard. He’s totally up for it, because he went in with his eyes open.

I agree that there is pressure out there from many directions to be this or get involved in that. Just owning a phone with a listed number is an exercise in dealing with high pressure. 😀 But Nance has a good point- let your kids know that they never have to make a decision that does not feel right to them out of fear.

12 12 2008
JJ

Sunniemom helps underline the distinction, then, between this being about the military itself or about helping kids resist dangerous pressures to join up with a group. The church of christ was notorious in college recruiting when I was on campus, dunno if it still is. The tactics were cultlike and the kids targeted were away from home on their own for the first time, needing friends and a feeling they belonged, with some structure for their out-of-class living, etc.

Some people undoubtedly go into the church of christ or other congregations with their eyes open and find the perfect home. That’s not who I’m talking about though.

As COD said, that kind of unquestioned structure imposed by authority is right for some kids and they thrive in it. For others it’s NOT right but they can be sucked into it anyway, unless we as part of their education, help them know themselves and the world well enough to stand up to its lure even when times are tough and they’re more vulnerable to the pitch.

12 12 2008
sunniemom

I believe that there are, within legitimate groups that have an honorable purpose, those who use the legitimacy of the group to draw in the vulnerable. I’ve seen it in everything from telemarketers to Mary Kay salespeople to religious groups.

But- a kid of 18 years of age who can be persuaded not only to sign on the dotted line, but go through the physical training requirements, take the tests, raise their right hand, go off to boot camp, graduate from boot camp- all of which can take months, and they can leave at any time during this period- and yet claim that they were ‘sucked into it’? Exactly how brain dead are we saying kids are today?

I also think a factor is too much media saturation, which thrives on drama and fear, and has a conditioning effect on people. They begin to make every day decisions based on the worst case scenario. Just go to your local grocery store when the weather man has predicted a storm- folks seem to enjoy the spectre of imminent disaster, buying bottled water and stocking up their pantries over the possibility of a few inches of snow. Talk shows have elevated every possible life scenario into a parade of ‘victims’- leaving REAL victims without book deals and magazine covers and interviews on the Today show.

I think it was Tammy at Just Enough that was saying that she translates everything into an educational issue, and I think she has a point. When I see how easily some folks are taken in by cheesy commercials and sensational gossip, it leads me to believe that our society is sadly lacking in character, virtue, and knowledge. We have more information at our fingertips than ever before, and yet are by and large dumber than a box of dog hair.

This is very important, and I like the way you said it, JJ- “…we as part of their education, help them know themselves and the world well enough to stand up to its lure even when times are tough and they’re more vulnerable to the pitch.”

Thumbs up.

12 12 2008
JJ

LOL — box of dog hair!
What’s the story behind that expression?

13 12 2008
sunniemom

JJ- my brother and I used to have ‘insult battles’ in the back of the car to keep ourselves occupied on long trips. We thought of some real doozies. 😉

We also would change the words to different commercial jingles or play ‘gross out’.

Ah, the things that bond siblings…. 😀

13 12 2008
JJ

Remember it’s development too, not just education. Eighteen is too young for the executive decision-making lobe of the (especially male) brain to be fully mature. That’s just a scientific fact — we as parents and we the people too, should do a better job of figuring out ways to inoculate 18-year-olds against following their own immature lobes’ ideas on no-do-over matters of life and death, without plenty of wise, trusted, truly mature counsel. Even if they are smarter than a box of dog hair.

13 12 2008
JJ

It’s funny that after we had this conversation about helping kids have the confidence and knowledge to stand up against the church or other aggressive recruiting groups playing on their vulnerability, Dale mentioned that parents need the same kind of help sometimes too! (Maybe we need to be helping each other then?)

. . .confidence sometimes runs dry in the face of religious traditions that already offer “a box of settled questions” on death, sexuality, and other big issues.

It’s into that breach of confidence that the church steps,” said McGowan.

13 12 2008
Sunniemom

JJ- I agree about development being a factor, since risk assessment abilities don’t usually kick in until the mid-20’s.

Do you think this issue should impact other areas- such as allowing kids to drive? Do they need more training and counsel, as well as testing to see if they are qualified to handle this responsibility? There are plenty of no-do-overs when it comes to the irresponsible operation of motor vehicles. Ditto for the whole ‘safe sex’ idea- are parents really teaching their kids the risk factors of sexual conduct, even when using condoms and birth control? I’ve counseled with way too many families where the parents have told their kids that as long as they use a condom, they will be fine. Are they out of their cotton-pickin’ minds? Don’t they understand the failure rate of condoms when it comes to conception, as well as the spread of deadly STDs? Talk about your no-do-overs.

As a Christian, I realize that some folks thinks this means I accept all religious teachings at face value because I have to to be a ‘good Christian’. But when you read the Bible, you will see the writers encouraged investigation, questions, and study. The church at Berea was known for the fact that they did their research to see whether or not the disciples and other followers of Christ were preaching the truth. I started making a list awhile back of how many times God asks people questions. Why does He ask? Does He not know the answer? NO- it’s because He wants people to realize certain truths for themselves. No matter how many times someone tries to shove something down your throat, you are not convinced until you are fully persuaded in your own mind. (Romans 14:5)

When kids are small, there are just some things that have to be “Because I said so”. Kids don’t understand that the tasty pink stuff is medicine, or that spraying paint in their sibling’s face is dangerous, or that it is NOT a good idea to use a trash bag as a parachute for sky-diving off the garage roof. At every stage of life, parents need to asses their child’s understanding of risk, as well as how to respond to their instincts about people and situations, teaching them how to pinpoint the factors that make them uneasy, which will help them understand how to react appropriately to the variety of situations they will eventually find themselves in. Which being translated means I don’t teach my kids a list of do’s and don’t’s- I teach them principles that will guide them, no matter what the situation.

Oh- I just remembered- I was listening to an interview this morning with author J. Craig Venter who wrote “A Life Decoded”. His school and Navy experiences reminded me of this conversation- listen to it if you get a chance- it’s at http://www.eyeonbooks.com/ibp.php?ISBN=0143114182

13 12 2008
JJ

Sunniemom asks: “Do you think this issue should impact other areas- such as allowing kids to drive? ”

Oh my, YES!

This may be one area where I’ve passed on a bit of neurotic fear to DD who’s almost 19 and still doesn’t drive nor wish to . . . but I’ll take that hit in return for the illusion (at least) that she is safer! 🙂

Not much I can do about everyone else’s underdeveloped frontal lobes on the road endangering Favorite Daughter, along with us all, but if I ever got really active politically again, it might be on this one issue — raise the driving age to 25 or so. (I harbor a secret hope that the energy crisis and the economic crisis will wind up transforming driver-operated death machines somehow, which would solve the problem in a better way.)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s




%d bloggers like this: