Kids Who Won’t Mind. What’s Wrong with this Picture?

Waroftheworlds182171m

I’m under the weather today, so I’ve spent the afternoon watching the Spielberg version of War of the Worlds.

Every time I watch this movie, I end up losing interest in it because the kids are such totally messed-up people. Here they are, running for their lives, and they refuse to do what their father tells them to do. In fact, they are as difficult, obstructionist and consistently bratty as two kids can be.

I see this sort of thing in movies all the time. Parents will tell their kid or kids — movie families are always tiny — to “go home” because they are in a dangerous situation and the kid ignores them as if they hadn’t said a word. Maybe in the filmmaker’s world this is the way things are. Maybe in most of the world, this is the way things are.

But I homeschooled my kids and I can say without hesitation that I never saw this in my kids or the children of any of the other homeschooling families.

Take, for instance, the night of the May 3 tornado. This particular tornado went through Moore and South Oklahoma City on May 3, 1999. I woke up that morning aching all over. The cats got in grain barrels we used for storage in the garage and would not get out. (This was the first and only time they ever got in those barrels.) A friend of mine told me her chihuahua got under the sofa and wouldn’t come out.

I cooked supper while we watched the tornado form outside of Apache, Oklahoma on our television. I remember remarking, “We’ve been expecting you,” to the screen.

We watched that thing grow and stay down on the ground as it cut across the state and headed for us. When it got to Chickasha, I told the kids to put their shoes on. We pulled the cats out of their grain barrels and stuffed them into their cat carrier. When it came time to get the heck out of Dodge, we did just that.

The point?

The kids did exactly what my husband and I told them to do. No argument. No questions. No hysteria. No debate.

I don’t give my kids direct commands now that they’re grown. But they still come to me for advice which they don’t always follow, but do take quite seriously. If I flat-out give them an order, such as, bring my vacuum cleaner back – I didn’t give it you – It was a loan – they tease me, then do it. For that matter, I have a hard time ignoring my 89-year-old mother when she asks me to do something, even now with her dementia.

So, what’s wrong with these movie kids? Do other people’s children really ignore their parents the way movie kids do? Do they argue about every thing they’re told to do and even refuse direct commands from their parents?

I never encountered this in all my years of child raising. Neither did any of my homeschooling friends. The teens weren’t terrible, and the rebellions didn’t happen.

The poor children in The War of the Worlds come from a broken home. Their mother is expecting a baby with her husband, who is much wealthier than their father. Their father seems to have a family reputation for being inconsistent and unreliable where the children are concerned. They end up left with this untrustworthy father who they clearly know but don’t respect or trust, not even to love them unconditionally.

I guess, when you look at it through the lens of their messed up family, it’s understandable that they talk back/don’t obey/get hysterical when things are tough.  After all, if Daddy has exhibited a long-term pattern of not being there, why should they feel safe relying on him when aliens are killing everybody in sight? They’re running for their lives, with Daddy Every So Often as their only protector.

If they’ve been raised in a home where Mama — who is the only present parent — clearly does not completely trust Daddy to care for them properly, even for a weekend — as she clearly does not — then why should they believe that they have any hope of good decisions and protection from him when the chips are down?

These kids feel safer with their stepfather than they do with their natural father, and he’s just their mother’s husband who they call by his first name.

There are lots of reasons for kids who won’t mind. But our fractured families and terrible home lives have to be high on that list. Even if you give your kids a stable home with their own mom and dad, if you send them to the public schools, they are going to be spending most of their waking hours with peers who are growing up in bad homes.

They are going to encounter the full blast of politically correct education which trains them very deliberately in ideas about family that are antithetical to accepting the authority of their own parents. In fact, much of things they are taught in areas like sex education and social studies seem to be designed to break down parental authority in the key areas of moral, social and spiritual formation.

Kids who won’t mind in dangerous situations can quickly become kids who don’t survive. They can also lead to dead families.

If, say, an F5 tornado is heading your way, and the kids refuse to do what you tell them, the whole family can get caught out and killed. Ditto for many other situations.

I find it difficult to watch Spielberg’s version of War of the Worlds because the children are so damaged. It is a horror tale inside of a horror tale, watching these totally messed-up kids and this total failure of a father try to struggle through the mayhem of an interplanetary attack on Earth. If Spielberg had looked a little closer at what he was saying here, he could easily have created an allegory for the social deconstruction our culture is undergoing.

But he didn’t do that.

War of worlds

Instead, he leaves it there, in front of us, without any real meaning. That’s the way destroyed families with their damaged children are routinely presented in film. We are shown these hideously messed-up families as if they were normal, when they are anything but normal. They are, in fact, dysfunctional to the point of being suicidal.

I don’t spend more time than I have to around ruined families. It’s too unpleasant. These people are too angry, their thinking processes too distorted and confused. People from ruined families don’t seem to be able to process reality. They are easy pickings for the next new thing. Their memories seem to go back to yesterday and not one minute further. No matter how high their native intelligence, they are profoundly stupid and gullible due to the damage that has been inflicted on their psyches.

I simply do not like to spend time with people who can’t think and process; who have no memory and are liable to rages and random contradictory behavior. I understand that they have been hurt and that they are profoundly disabled on an emotional and intellectual level by what their parents and our society has done to them. But they are untrustworthy, hurtful people to know.

There are many challenges in this for today’s Christians. The first and most of important is how we can protect our own children from becoming as damaged as the rest of our society. It’s important, it really, really maters to the future of your children, for you to love their father if you are their mother, and for you to love their mother if you are their father.

It is essential that you commit to the person you make babies with and spend your life working together with them to build your babies into productive, loving people who can form families and raise children of their own.

Do I make that clear?

You need to get married to the mother or father of your children and you need to love the mother or father of your children and you need to respect and treasure and cherish the mother or father of your children for the rest of your life. The two of you must be a team that is dedicated before God to raising the souls that He has entrusted to you. Nothing else you can do with your life matters as much as this.

You have to protect your babies from this poisonous anti-child culture and, as important as an intact family is, protecting them will take even more. This is a society that sacrifices its children in a wanton and uncaring fashion to every false god it sees. From manufacturing them before conception, to murdering them before birth, to destroying their bonds with their parents and subjecting them to social experiments to promote the latest politically correct fantasy, our society has organized itself into a child-sacrificing machine.

If you want your kids to come into their own adulthood undamaged by all this, you have to keep them out of it when they are little. If you do that, they will have the tools to handle it once they become adults. If you don’t, they will be overtaken by it.

That’s why I recommend homeschooling. It works academically. And, given the homeschooling groups and the many organizations available, it also works socially. Your kids will form life-long friendships with the other homeschooled kids. What will be different is that they won’t be forming relationships with kids who are from such damaged homes that they cannot function as whole people.

The second thing we have to do as Christians is to decide how we will convert this sick society of ours. How do we minister to ruined people who are so damaged they cannot form families and raise children of their own? How do we explain a loving God to people who have never been unconditionally loved by anyone in their lives? How do we help them to learn to live Christian lives after they convert?

These are huge questions that I am going to save for another post.

However, I am interested in what Public Catholic readers suggest as remedies.

Talk it over and let’s see what you come up with.

  • fredx2

    “We are shown these hideously messed-up families as if they were normal, when they are anything but normal. ”

    But it sounds like all too many people in Hollywood grew up in messed up families. So they want to make movies that tell themselves that the upset is normal.

    This is the fundamental paradox of art – those who feel driven to make it are often possessed of deep feelings that are driven by deep hurt. This makes it possible to make an interesting movie, but the values that they send across in their movies are often very messed up.

  • pagansister

    It’s a movie. Movies are not always true to life. As for homeschooling? I have a feeling that not all children who are home schooled are better behaved than those in public schools. I love my children dearly but there would have been no way I would have home schooled them. Personality wise, my daughter and I would have never made it being constantly together. Both children needed to be in the world of public school (good ones, as our house selections in our many work related moves were based on the school districts)and the experiences that that gives. For those that choose to home school? More power to them. My now adult children are responsible adults in all areas of life.

  • Nathaniel

    For some reason, this post brings to mind this quote:

    “Fear is the mind killer.”

    • hamiltonr

      That’s an intriguing quote. Do you know who said it?

      I would probably amend it to say, “Terror is the mind killer.” Fear tends to sharpen one’s wits.

      • Nathaniel

        It’s from the legendary sci-fi novel Dune. It’s the first line of a fear managing mantra.

        • hamiltonr

          I read that book years ago, but don’t remember the quote. It’s a great book. Lousy movie. :-)

  • Faithr

    I don’t know. I’ve been homeschooling for 18 years now and worked with lots of homeschooled children. Some are obedient and some are sassy. I’ve also worked with public school kids teaching RE and also just been with public school kids in a variety of situations with my own kids, at the pool, neighborhood, clubs etc. I think there are obedient ps kids too. I think homeschooled kids tend to be less jaded or exposed less to the corrosive nature of our media culture, so they have have a natural innocence longer than ps kids who can take on a sort of sophisticated veneer earlier. The ps kids are more ruled by peer pressure and fashion trends etc. But I have known both great kids that are in ps and homeschooled and also pretty troubled kids in both ps and homeschool. As for movies, I think it creates drama so they use that schtick of kids not obeying. I do think too much exposure to that kind of modeling of relationships can be harmful to us all. We all need to be critical thinkers! Thanks to your blog which always gets me thinking!

  • http://outsidetheautisticasylum.blogspot.com/ Theodore Seeber

    My special needs child acts this way. He recently broke the screen on his Nabi Tablet slightly- it still works, but there are cracks in it that could turn into something that cuts fingers on the touch screen.

    He won’t let me turn it in on the extended warranty I got especially for this reason.

    If we take the charger as well, to turn it in on the warranty, we’ll be able to exchange it in store and he’ll have no time without it. He seems incapable of understanding this, but we’ll try again on Friday when I have time again.

  • Doug Sirman

    “Jaws,” had a strong family, with Dad going out to slay the monster that threatened his children. But divorce became a recurring theme in Spielberg’s movies since E.T. The barely suppressed bitterness from the Mom and the shell-shocked, loneliness of the kids forms the background of that story, and hope has to come from outside that family; there is none left within. The child of divorce, Spielberg and his first wife, Amy Irving, also divorced. Child abandonment is a constant theme in his movies. In Jurassic Park, the two grandchildren are spending time with their grandfather while their parents are divorcing. “He left us! He left us!”, recounts the nearly hysterical girl. Neither the grandfather, and certainly not the lawyer, are a suitable substitute for a real father in protecting them from the monsters of the world. WotW, with it’s adolescent, weekend dad, a son who can barely conceal his contempt for his childish father, and a daughter overcome with an anxiety disorder, present a hellish picture of a broken family. The son is more of a father to his sister than his Dad is. They do not obey their father, because their father is not worthy of obedience, or respect, or deference of any kind. He is not to be trusted, not because the children are so damaged, but because they know him. He is not to be trusted, because he is not trust-worthy.

    “I simply do not like to spend time with people who can’t think and process; who have no memory and are liable to rages and random contradictory behavior.”

    I hope this isn’t harsh, but you do. I work with dementia patients every day. Some have days where they are incredibly sweet, but others I can only describe as “haunted.” The only way I can continue to behave as a professional is to remember that I do this because of who I am, not because of their behavior.


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