Small is the gate and narrow is the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.


DP Week in Review

In today's world it seems that wisdom is a thing of the past. One person that I really admire and think has an unending amount of wisdom is Dennis Prager. Since I started listening to him years ago I can honestly say no single person, outside of my family and friends, has had more of an influence on me. Dennis Prager is a conservative talk show host on AM radio. Three times a week he has dedicated hours which have nothing to do with politics. These are my favorite three hours of my work week. I listen to his show everyday, but I find myself planning my day around these dedicated hours. On Tuesday he dedicates an hour to life's ultimate issues where he talks about some of life's greatest issues. On Wednesday's he dedicates an hour to Male/Female relationships which he calls "the most honest talk about men and women on the radio". On Friday he has a happiness hour. This is his longest running dedicated hour and his most important. At the beginning of every happiness hour he says "The second hour of every Friday is dedicated to happiness, because the happy make the world better and the unhappy make it worse. Therefore, it is a moral obligation to at least act happy." Since Prager has had such an impact on my life I thought it would only be fitting if I dedicated a post a week to his show and mainly his three dedicated hours. When I wrote THIS post on happiness and my journey to happiness after everything that I went through, so much of it was influenced by this one man. As a form of gratification and a way to share him with others I want to talk about his shows of the past week that I found most interesting.
First, his Ultimate Issues hour of the week was about one of his most important issues of life which is that he believes that God most wants to us to be good people and do good on this planet. He cites the Bible when Isaiah says "The Holy God is made Holy through Goodness". He also mentions the reason God saved Noah was only because of his Goodness which also allowed him to walk with God. To take it a little further he brings up the issue on how to judge if religion is doing good. He says that it should be judged by if it is producing good fruit. Not that it has never produced a bad fruit, but if it overwhelmingly produces good fruit, then it is good thing. I really enjoyed this hour. I totally 100% agree that God wants us to be good more than anything else. I don't think he cares if you go to church every single day or have the most friends on facebook. What he cares about is that we are good people. Moving on to the religious part, as a Catholic I often hear people make comments about the Catholic Church. Has it produced bad fruit? Yes. Overall, has the fruit it produced been good and done good? YES! So many people are quick to judge religions based on something they know or think they know about it. As I said a few weeks ago, goodness is the most important thing I hope to instill in Landon and I hope that he can find a religion that will guide him in goodness through it's own goodness.

His second dedicated hour this week on male/female was about space and if it is good for a couple to have space from one other. He argues that spending more time together is better for couples and that you marry someone to be with them, not to have space. One common quote he brought up was "Absence makes the heart grow founder". When Adam and I started dating we were inseparable and were consistently being told this by our families. We knew it just didn't work for us. Prager said he didn't understand that quote that he thought absence doesn't make the heart grow founder, it creates absence. Exactly!!! Adam and I have always done better when together. If we are able to spend a week or two together non stop we are great. If we go a week or more having little time together we tend to butt heads more. It's like you get used to having your space and doing your own thing and so when you are together it just makes it harder. I believe that when you meet the person you are meant to be with that you just know that it is right. You don't break up and get back together over and over or need your own time. You actually function better the more they are around. You want to be around the person.

This weeks happiness hour was based on when people say that you cannot pursue happiness, that it is a by-product of other things. I've never heard someone say this, but apparently there are books written on how you cannot pursue happiness. Of course you can! You have to! Yes, happiness is a by-product of other things, but you have to pursue it. Most people do not wake up every morning happy and live their entire lives happy every single day. Most people have to work on obtaining happiness during at least some part of their life. Moods, emotions, tragic life events all could keep us from being happy if it we didn't pursue it. Prager points out that if we couldn't pursue happiness then why would they write in the Declaration of Independence that all people have certain unalienable rights which include the pursuit of happiness. Happiness is something that we should all strive to pursue at all times. It will add to our life and make us better people. Anyone who thinks that we are unable to pursue happiness is either very fortunate and naturally happy everyday or a very miserable and sad person.

There were two other topics that Prager talked about this week that really intrigued me. Dr. Bill Bennett was on talking about his new book Is College Worth It?. Dr. Bennett said that the book focuses on the economic issues surrounding college and that debt drives the conversation. Dr. Bennett was a secretary of education and says that our college system is broke. He said that there are 3,500 four year colleges in the US. 46% of people who attend these colleges today do not graduate. Of the 64% that do, half of them are unemployed or underemployed. He says that there are less people in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) than in 1985, but those are the good paying jobs. Outside of those professions, people would do better off going to community colleges or technical schools. He gathers that only 20-25% get their money's worth from four year colleges. It seems that people are starting to realize it too. A poll in 2011 said 82% of people thought college was a good investment, but the same poll in 2013 found only 57% thought it was a good investment. He said he was giving a talk the other night and a father said that when he sent his twins to college he thought their character would be improved, but instead in the six months after they started he saw nothing about their character improving, but learned that they had engaged in lots of sex, tried illicit drugs, and were getting drunk three nights a week. I cringe at the thought of Landon being college age. I hope he can go to college with a clear goal, stay out of debt and escape college without being turned into someone who makes all their decisions based on feelings. If he doesn't know what he wants to do then I will push him in any direction, but a four year institution.

The last hour that I found fascinating this week was a best-of hour. This is an hour that originally played in August of 2012. It was based on THIS article about how there is a trend in parenting where parents think of their kids as their buddies. In reading this article I wasn't surprised, but so astounded at the train of thought of some of the parents interviewed. Prager argued that being your child's buddy takes away that vertical relationship of parent-child and makes it so that you are the same, equal. My favorite line from this hour was "Your child will have plenty of buddies, but only one father." How true! We look at Landon as our son, but not as our buddy. We want to spend time nurturing a relationship with Landon by teaching him and watching him grow, but we do not hang out with our child to enjoy the companionship. We look to each other, family and friends for that. In the article Lance Somerfeld, a stay-at-home dad in Park Slope said “I think as he gets older and I need to really establish myself as the authority figure, I won’t keep calling him buddy." This makes no sense to me. It’s like training a dog. If you start with good habits in the beginning then it make it easier in the long run. Is it easier to teach a puppy not to get into a bed or a four year old dog accustomed to sleeping on the bed to up and stop? Why not train a toddler what is right and wrong so that they understand boundaries clearly when they are first learning? That way by the time they are an older child they will know better and it will be second nature. How will this man's parenting work? A child won’t understand that just because they've turned 8 or entered into middle school why you’ve suddenly decided to change your relationship with them. It’s confusing. Children need consistency and it starts from when they are little. Changing a relationship from a horizontal to vertical relationship will only cause anger and confusion from a child. Another part of the article quotes a father as saying to his young child “If I had all my buddies lined up in a row and I had to choose my best buddy, it would be you.” Prager asked for a vomit bag and I have to agree. This isn't parenting. He is trying to get something from this relationship that doesn’t exist. It seems perverse. Would the father gets his feelings hurt if the child picks a kid his actual age to hang out with? Probably. How wrong is that? Your child loves you just because you are his parent, just like you love him just because he is your Son. Nothing can change that. It isn’t a competition. Landon is happiest when playing with his cousin Taylor. Taylor is Landon’s buddy. That doesn’t make us jealous. If it did, we would need to reevaluate ourselves. Parenting isn’t about being selfish, it’s about being selfless and trying to be your kids best friend is selfish. I know that in the world we live in today we raise our Son very different from most people. We want to raise Landon to respect people older than him, to have manners and use Mr. and Mrs. when addressing adults. One day when Landon has children of his own we will be able to be his buddy and he will learn what it is to be the parent. Until then, we can be buddies with everyone except our Son.

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