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'Respectable teenagers': Not an oxymoron

Like many people, my husband and I follow the news closely. Seldom do we hear anything good. Seldom do we hear about incidences where our constitutional rights are upheld. Seldom do we feel encouraged that America’s future will be better than its present.

And once in a while we’ll look at each other and ask, “What kind of world have we brought our kids into?”

Our daughters are now 17 and 15. In just over a year, our oldest is flying the coop and heading for an out-of-state trade school. The Mama Bear part of me wants to keep her close and safe, under our protection. But I know I can’t do that.

We’re fortunate in that our kids have grown up like few other children in America do any more. They’ve grown up on a farm where calves and chicks are regular parts of summer, where Mom milks a cow and makes cheese and butter, where Dad works at home at a woodcraft business, where we go to church as a family, where they have the responsibility of both indoor and outdoor chores, where neighbors are stable and friendly and raising their own respectable kids.

Our girls are sensible, practical, intelligent and (OK, I’ll say it) good. We have no adolescent angst or rebellion, no shouting or family drama. We just have two decent kids who work hard, love their parents and have a circle of equally decent friends. Y’know … like teenagers used to be.

In short, our girls are growing up in a forgotten corner of Real America the way it was meant to be. But we can’t keep our girls tucked away on the farm forever.

Every day, we log onto the Internet (we don’t have television reception) and read horrible things. Most of these things are far away, but some are distressingly close. No where, it seems, can our girls escape the harsh reality of the ugly side of American life … except, temporarily, on our farm.

As parents, we have tried to raise our children so they will enter adulthood as moral, decent, productive citizens. But what happens when the world around them is neither moral nor decent nor productive? Is it a disservice to raise children with stability and responsibility in a world that values neither?

We are launching our kids into a nation where the Constitution is trampled like garbage underfoot, where their faith and morals are mocked and ridiculed, where their every movement and communication is captured, recorded and stored as future “proof” of domestic terrorism or other subversive intentions. They’ll become adults in a society where indolence is rewarded and productivity is punished. They’ll face a world in which our own government is dividing its citizens for (presumably) nefarious purposes and plunging our nation into unsustainable debt that will inevitably crash the economy, a world where political correctness trumps common sense.

My God, what have we done to bring children into a world like this?

Yet I suppose it’s natural for every parent to worry about their kids. I’m certain my parents had similar concerns when my brothers and I left home. Everyone wonders what kind of world will be there for their children and grandchildren.

Some would say we’ve done our teens a disservice because we didn’t shove them out into the harsh world sooner. If we had sent them to public school, they would have learned to take their lumps from mean bullies and unfair teachers. They would have been indoctrinated into the progressive agenda that teaches Marxism is good and liberties are bad. They would have learned that baring their cleavage and thighs is fashionable and that Planned Parenthood walks on water. They would have learned that feminism is admirable and femininity is despicable. They would have learned a LOT of things they didn’t learn at home, and their sweet innocence would have been destroyed from a young age.

But is the fact that our girls weren’t exposed to this a bad thing? I don’t think so, and neither do our kids. Just this week our older daughter, having read something dire on the Internet regarding public education, turned to me and said, “Thank you for not sending me to school.”

All this means that when they are launched into the world, they’re going to be in for some culture shock. The world is not necessarily populated by kind, hard-working, moral, honest people. Not any more. At some point our girls’ wholesome outlook is going to be stripped away by harsh experience. We can’t protect them forever.

But when I begin to doubt whether we’ve done our girls a disservice by raising them the way we have, I recall that our methods are not bad – they’re merely old-fashioned. We’ve raised our girls in circumstances and ethics of a bygone era. Someone has to let their light so shine into the world of darkness that is coming. Someone has to be keepers of traditional values.

I have to remember that while society is getting worse, and our government is getting (far!) worse, individual people are still the same – some bad, but many more good. It’s just that good people don’t get noticed.

I also have to remember that the horrible things we hear about in the news are in the news because they’re just that – horrible. The vast, vast majority of people are still decent and law-abiding, fair-minded and moral. They just aren’t “interesting” to the nightly news and the tabloid press. So maybe our girls won’t be disillusioned at too young an age after all.

In the end, no matter how much I’ll worry about our daughters when they go off on their own, I must remember that our girls will be warriors. Not necessarily physical soldiers, but rather warriors for standards of decent behavior, warriors for a strong work ethic, warriors for traditional values. In their own small way, I’m confident our kids will contribute to the uplifting of America rather than its continuing decline.

And on the bright side, the fact that our girls haven’t grown into cynical, entitled, ever-texting progressive drones bodes well for their future employment prospects. After all, they can read, write, keep themselves clean in mind and body, arrive for work on time, do an honest day’s labor, treat others with respect, admit their mistakes, accept responsibility for their actions, and trust God to guide them.

Someone may feel inclined to snark, “Well aren’t YOU so proud of your children!!”

Um, YES. We are.

Sometimes it’s good to be different.