It was the evening of the mall shooting. I had, earlier that day, a discussion with a millennial friend about guns, violence, parenting, and the like. One of the points of agreement was that there are a lot of parents who have intentionally or accidentally abrogated their parenting role in their children’s lives and have withdrawn into their own adult world

SO that night I was eating at a favorite place of mine. I watched, because they were sitting a table in front of me, a mother and her three children. Two were (I suspect) older middle schoolers and the third an older elementary schooler. As mom got up and told them they were leaving for their next stop in shopping, the three kids all went for their iphones (okay, they could be androids too, but whatever… no, the phones, not the kids….sheesh). I watched as mom collected her plates and took them to the trash/silverware station. She made a second trip for two more plates, and a third trip to finish cleaning off the table. No help from the kids. No word to them about helping, about cleaning up after themselves. The kids went to their cyberworld and the mom just did what had to be done.

It was, I thought, an obvious time to engage in some parenting. Even if the kids didn’t immediately think to clean up after themselves, the mom could have told them to do it. And she didn’t.

Parenting involves engagement. I don’t get to practice it because since the divorce my daughter has opted to exclude me from her life. But when I was in the house, and involved, she’d have been told to clean up the table.  I know, there are conceivably reasons why the mother didn’t say anything, why the kids didn’t offer.  There is no doubt a larger story (like, where was dad, what else had gone on that day, etc.).

Still, it just seemed like an example of what my friend and I had been talking about earlier.


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