How To Tell If Your Child Is Completely Unexceptional…

… Twenty nine and unemployed. Check. Living in parent’s basement. Check. Over inflated sense of self importance. Check. Enabling parent. Double check.

Remember that scene in the movie The Incredibles when Dash tells his mom that when everyone is special no one is? The point is later reiterated by the villain who proclaims “When everyone’s super, no one is”.

Yeah… being labeled as “gifted” now-a-days is kinda like that.

Meet indignant father, Nick, who defensively claims his unemployed, living at home in the basement, 29 year old son is ‘gifted’. Nick is also one of those parents BFF dads who believe that passing on parental values, morals, and religious beliefs is “tantamount to child abuse” by forcing kids what to think. He also doesn’t believe in kids doing chores. Or getting jobs and being productive citizens. Not surprisingly he also feels it’s A-OK for his son to hide out in the basement waiting for the economy to improve till junior gets the job he “deserves”. So basically, Nick failed as a parent and his son is loaf.

“Matt, I heard your horrible conversation today about parenting. A few comments in response:

1) Based on your remarks, I have to say I feel bad for your kids. You sound like the sort of person who never should have been a parent. You said you plain to teach your kids “how to think.” I guess this is common in right wing religious fundamentalist households. Personally, I let my child form his own conclusions about things. To impose your views on a child is tantamount to child abuse. Do them a favor, let them think FREELY.

2) You greatly exaggerate the importance of “chores.” Also, the idea that a kid should be forced to “get a job” is abhorrent. My son was very gifted so we gave him all the tools to succeed academically. This meant we didn’t turn him into slave labor and we certainly didn’t tell him he needed to go work behind a cash register. He concentrated on his school work, and we did our job as parents and financially supported him.

3) It’s easy to mock a “30 year old who lives with is parents.” My son is almost 29 and he’s been home with us since he graduated. Unfortunately the job market isn’t the greatest (maybe you hadn’t heard) and I’m not going to let him starve on the street. He has a college education, it’s pointless for him to be out working in a retail store or some other menial job. I will be here for him until he is able to get the job he deserves.”

What happens next it glorious.

Matt Walsh puts him and his “gifted” son in their appropriate place.

Dear Nick,

I’m not an expert on parenting. I never claimed to be. But you don’t need to be an expert to know that one of the fundamental tasks of a parent — and this really speaks to the whole point of the endeavor — is to teach your child how to navigate the physical, moral, spiritual and intellectual dangers of life. This includes teaching them how to think, which could also be referred to as passing on your values and your worldview. If you have no interest in doing this, then I would suggest that you never really wanted a child — you wanted a friend. Now you have one. Living at home with you. Forever. Congratulations.

Chores schmores. What can they teach a kid? Discipline, obedience, and hard work? Screw that. What is this, the 50′s? Listen, Nick, don’t take this the wrong way, but what leads you to the conclusion that your son is “gifted”? He can’t mow the lawn, work a job, earn a living, pay a bill, apply a skill, or support himself, yet he’s “gifted”? What are his gifts, exactly? You know, something tells me an astronaut’s parents never have to inform people that their child is “gifted.” People sort of pick up on that based on context clues. They behold his accomplishments and admire his achievements. They can SEE his gifts. He uses them, applies them, refines them. Your son MIGHT have gifts — the jury is still out — but whatever they may be, they’ll atrophy and whittle away the longer he spends lounging in a bean bag chair eating macaroni and cheese.

Read the full exchange here.

If anything, this serves as a cautionary tale against the frightening trend of being your kid’s bestie, or as I call it, non-parenting.

About Katrina Fernandez

Mackerel Snapping Papist

  • http://www.parafool.com/ victor

    I like this post but object to the choice of featured image above. It is pretty obvious from that individual’s glasses, ‘stache, PC, and cigarette that within the context of the era in which that photograph was taken, that that individual was truly gifted like a boss. I couldn’t guess as to what the significance of the webpage screen-capture which someone has ineptly copied and pasted onto the screen could be, tough.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/thecrescat Katrina Fernandez

      I never even noticed the screen.

      • http://www.parafool.com/ victor

        Yes, well… only TRULY exceptional people obsess over every image they see on the Internet, making sure that there are no pixels are out of place.

  • Ann Walsh Featsent

    Matt Walsh’s blog (no relation) is one of my daily reads along with you, Kat. As you know, he’s not a Catholic writer, but he IS Catholic, which comes through loud and clear in his point of view.

  • BrandonUB

    I think that argument might involve a bit too much head-desking for me. I’m blown away how many people seem to think they’re above a certain sort of work, yet are doing no work at all. I can’t fathom how that logic works!

    • fred

      Matt Walsh does receive many negative comments, threats on his blog. Also, what work do you want them(kids) to do Spectrall? Walk into a place and say” I ll take any job?” Go to a bad crime projects area and look for a job?

  • KyPerson

    I loved that column. Just loved it. I stood up and applauded when I finished it.

  • David J. White

    So, knowing how to snow your parents into supporting you almost into the fourth decade of your life isn’t a “gift”? ;-)

  • tj.nelson

    This is just sad. Why this attack on Rocco?

    What?

  • echarles1

    Indignant father Nick’s philosophy of parenting reminds me of Homer Simpson’s. As Homer said “Let your children run wild and free.” and “With television, now days kids practically raise themselves!”

  • Nan

    Wow, Kat, a role model for you! Well, him and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-pv8D-ydR1s


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