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National Editorials & Columns

Pondering what 'control' really means

As I pondered what control means these past weeks I ran across three quotes that struck me about today’s situation.

“The impersonal hand of government can never replace the helping hand of a neighbor.”

— Hubert H. Humphrey

Literacy helps us to recognize that our neighbor is all the people on the earth. I also believe we need to redefine “helping hand.” Iowa farmers may have a better definition than is prevalent today. 

When someone is in trouble, they help them get to their feet. They stop helping once they are on their feet. To me this illustrates what Dave Hon said in his October 11th column “Communism works — in the 24th Century.”

“I’m saying every person without a purpose is a person we have failed. Thus, we must give these people a purpose, before we give them utopia.”

Literacy is giving people purpose, mainly because it aids them to reason through their decisions and possibly create their own utopia.

The third quote, “Indifferent people get corrupt government; concerned people get honest government; weak people get dictatorships; strong people control their government,” is from “Books of the Bible: A Survey of the Old and New Testaments.” That concept applies to literacy: indifferent people lead to ignorance; concerned people read, discuss and dwell on what they read; weak people need challenge; strong people mentor those who need challenge.

Until we as caring parents and volunteers who love children are ready at times to put our own needs either on hold or at times give them up so that we can create first a safe and secure environment conductive to learning for our children, no educational system or teacher can teach our child well. 

One thing that I admired about President Truman was his desk sign “The buck stops here.”

None of us have all the things, looks, money, powers, or abilities that we want, but we can choose to do the best with what we have. If we are a parent, we have the potential of a child in our hands.

No matter where we are in society we affect others and we choose whether we affect them positively or negatively.

If a child uses his mental and emotional energies to survive, he has little time or energy to invest in learning. A rewarding part of parenting is that we can provide a successful learning environment whether we are rich, poor, or so-so financially.

It does mean we can’t always dwell on what we want. My in-laws were migrant workers, but mom’s house of the moment was spotless and all six children knew the value of work and literacy.

The most loving parent can become abusive if he or she doesn’t take steps to avoid it.  Some of these steps are: to know ourselves and our personal frustration limits; to deal with our anger and not take it out on others; to walk away if we know we are out of control; and to seek help when we pursued by destructive thoughts.

Thought always comes before action. Self-control is when we think through our thoughts before acting, so that we act appropriately towards others. There is no appropriateness to slapping or hitting because our spouse, boss, or even the person acted mean to us.

We are responsible to redirect our thoughts and we have the power to do so. Literacy is a tool that enables us to learn what we need to do and where to go for help.

I just finished reading “The Orphan Train” by Christina Baker Kline, a novel about a disgraceful time of our history and how one person overcame the abuse. Abuse isn’t new and it isn’t always intentional. 

It usually results from a selfish attitude that hurts others and often that hurt lasts a lifetime and leads to long term unhappiness for the individual(s) affected and society in general.

Almost every parent has felt the frustration when a child cries for hours, and we can’t understand why. Or, when children refuse to do what you ask even after several timely instructions. Or, those times when children act in a way that embarrasses us.

No one likes these moments of parenthood, but it is important to realize that: discipline is not when you strike a child in anger — it is abuse; screeching at your child is not an appropriate release for your frustrations — it is abuse; threatening your child with harm is not a healthy child-rearing technique — it is abuse; threatening a child with your physical presence, throwing things at the child, causing pain to make him give in to your demands are not parenting — they are abuse.

You have the power to abuse your child or others; you also have the power not to abuse them. Power is in the hands of the most powerful. You are more powerful than a crying baby, an irritating toddler, a smart-aleck elementary student, or even a rebellious teenager.

If you find yourself feeling uncontrollable rage, or see it in someone else seek help. You deserve help and your child deserves a conducive learning environment. The rewards of a fulfilling relationship with your child, not only benefits your child, it benefits you.

Until next week — Christine Pauley

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