Tag Archives: parenting

A Healthy Attitude Towards Sex Education Must Include Realism

By Jay Menard,

It’s out there. And burying my head — or any other protruding body part — in the sand isn’t going to make it go away. So instead of arguing against the proposed Liberal Health and Physical Education curriculum, perhaps we should spend more time thinking about how we, as parents, should support and reinforce it.

We can all say it’s a parent’s responsibility to educate his or her children about these issues — and I don’t disagree. Of course, not all parents are going to. And not all parents are able to. Continue reading

California Gaming Law Puts Rules Squarely in Parents’ Hands

By Jason Menard

Free speech comes with a cost – personal responsibility. The repeal of a California law banning the sale and rental of violent games to minors puts the responsibility for parenting right where it should lie – with the parents.

Unfortunately for many kids that’s not exactly a comforting thought.  Continue reading

Fatherhood – The Unbirth of Cool

By Jason Menard

All it took was one look at my daughter’s face Friday night to hammer home the final nail in the coffin that housed the last vestiges of one belief I held dear – that I was a cool dad.

Well, it was the look combined with the words, “Oh, please no dad. Please no!” Continue reading

Misplaced Call for Restraint

By Jason Menard

Some lawyers need to obtain a sense of perspective before they start throwing around accusations – after all, the bigger the glass house, the more shards can come crashing down. And, in the case of a St. Thomas man charged with sexually assaulting his child, this so-called lack of restraint may help to prevent similar episodes from occurring.

Bob Upsdell, the lawyer for a St. Thomas man who has been charged with sexually assaulting his own child live on the Internet – an act which allegedly was witnessed and acted upon by an undercover officer – is tossing the word restraint a little too loosely when it comes to castigating the police for releasing information about the trial.

Restraint? Restraint? Perhaps, if the claims are true, his client should have shown a little more restraint when it came to abusing his own offspring. Instead of chastising police and superciliously stating that they need to “restrain their need for validation of the work they do,” perhaps this lawyer should realize that he’s dealing with a client that allegedly should have shown more restraint in his need to validate his need for sexual gratification by fondling his own child.

When treading through filth like this, one must tread lightly. Upsdell instead has jumped in with both feet – and now those feet are lodged firmly in his mouth.

As repugnant as the charges may be, everyone is entitled to a fair trial. But the nature of this crime – allegedly willfully violating the parent/child trust for sexual gratification – is so abhorrent that the normal rules of decorum need to be thrown out. When one has seemingly shown so little regard for one’s humanity, it’s hard to take a position of moral superiority, but that’s what Upsdell has done.

Yet Upsdell is simply trying to protect the rights of his client. As any good lawyer should, he has his client’s best interests at heart. And in an attempt to ensure a fair trial, he’s well within his right to argue that police comments have the potential for tainting the jury pool. But knowing public sentiment for the crime his client has been literally seen doing, he should have come out in a less accusatory tone.

In the end, all Upsdell has created is more animosity for his client. I would think that one’s hard-pressed to find someone who sympathizes with his client’s plight. In fact, I would think the only reason that people are in agreement with the generalities of Upsdell’s argument. If all the reports are true, then it’s safe to say that no one wants to see the accused go free. As such, the general public are just as invested in making sure that all the I’s are dotted and the T’s are crossed.

Sympathy for his client is in short supply, and appealing for that is a wasted effort. However, appearing conciliatory and co-operative will help ensure that public image only stays at the repugnant level. Actions like this only move it closer to the abhorrent category.

The fact of the matter is that you’re never going to find a virgin jury pool — and, honestly, do we really want to have a group of people who are so removed from the news and realities of the world that they are unaware of this case deciding the fate of anyone, anywhere?

All you can hope for is that a jury of this man’s peers – and thankfully that doesn’t mean a pool of other alleged sub-human child molesters – will be able to execute their responsibility with all the respect and attention it deserves. We don’t live in a vacuum, so the reality is that we have to trust that people are able to separate speculation, emotion, and hearsay from the cold, blunt facts.

The jury pool’s already been tainted by Upsdell’s client’s alleged actions. If true, he has no one to blame but himself for that. And when you’ve shown a complete disregard for the rules and regulations of our society – and, in fact, the very essence of human decency – then taking a stand based on human rights is one that’s not based on the firmest of footing.

Could the police have shown a little more restraint in releasing the evidence? Maybe. But I, for one, am happy that their actions may help to prevent actions like this in the future. Knowing that there are police acting undercover in chat rooms and watching the going’s-on may give just one person pause to reconsider his or her actions. It’s not going to solve all the problems. And if the Net becomes too unsafe, people who are of the mind to commit these atrocious crimes will simply find another venue.

But if only one child has been saved from just one incident of molestation, then I for one applaud the police’s lack of restraint. If only Upsdell’s client practiced the same standard of restraint that his lawyer expects of others.

2006© Menard Communications – Jason Menard All Rights Reserved

Don’t Let Mother Strike – Fire Her Instead

By Jason Menard

The mother who’s fed up and can’t take it anymore, pitching a tent on her front lawn and declaring that she’s on strike from parenting shouldn’t be allowed to walk out – she should be fired!

Complaining that her children are unruly, disrespectful, and unwilling to help out around the house, she chooses to stage a grandstanding display for the masses deftly attempting to deflect the blame from where it should lie – herself.

Now, let me state that I know intimately how difficult it is for a single mother to make a go of it in today’s world. But I also know there are many single mothers – and fathers – out there who are making it work. They’re able to be proud of their children and these kids are often more responsible and dedicated that their colleagues from two-parent homes.

I also know unruly kids who, despite living with two parents, are veritable hellions – destructive, uncontrollable, and unpleasant to be around.

And in both cases, the majority of the blame falls to the parent or parents.

Kids need boundaries. Parents want to be their kids’ friends and not come across as the bad guy. The two don’t always mix. Sometimes parenting’s difficult, sometimes it downright sucks. And there’s nothing worse than having to see the sadness or disappointment in your child’s eyes when they’ve had a much-anticipated event or gift taken away for poor behaviour.

It breaks your heart. But it’s also part of the tempering process that will forge our children into responsible adults. Sometimes, you just have to say no – as much as you want to give your children everything and anything they desire, to do so doesn’t teach them the realities of life.

My wife and I aren’t perfect parents by any stretch of the imagination. To some we may be considered strict, in that our kids are severely restricted in their activities on school days. And if requested tasks aren’t completed, then playtime is postponed. Oh, and TV, video games, and computer time? A maximum allotment each day.

Is it easy? Of course not. It’s hard to make a 12-year-old see the value of dedicating time to homework while his friends, often from the same class, are out playing in the street in front of him. And while their parents may not see the value of putting their kids to bed early, we know that our kids need a set amount of sleep. If that means going to bed earlier than their friends do (or, more likely, say they do) then so be it. We’ll be the bad guy.

In any case – and this includes our own children – negative behaviour can be traced to parenting decisions. And once a behaviour is ingrained, whether it be coming out of bed repeatedly at night or refusing to sit at the dinner table to eat, it only gets harder to change as they get older. After all, if the children have been conditioned to accept one reality, why should it come as a surprise that they’re resistant to changes to their status quo?

Sympathetic to the plight of the single mother, her status does not allow her to abdicate her role as a parent. However, her lack of judgment is apparent in her reference to the state of her kids’ rooms (I’m sure people through whose homes Hurricane Katrina did go through would love to switch places, even today).

Sure, you can say the kids are old enough to know better. But if you’ve grown up all your life being told that blue is green, why should you be expected to believe otherwise just because of a calendar? These kids have grown up with behaviour that’s been accepted to this point, so is it their fault that they behave selfishly?

Unfortunately, empathy comes later in life. As we get older, we are able to look back and appreciate more the travails we put our parents through. But as children, adolescents, and teenagers, we live in a world that’s very small – it revolves around us and our friends. It is only through the restrictions and guides that our parents set that we develop into well-rounded adults, capable of accepting responsibility and making sound decisions. If we’re not taught that, then whose fault is it?

If this mother didn’t want her house to turn into a pig sty, then perhaps she should have made her kids clean the room. If they refused, then luxuries would be restricted. If they continued to refuse, then there would be consequences – certainly one that wouldn’t involve a foosball table. It may be hard, it may require patience and stubbornness, but eventually the delineation between parent and child, rule-maker and rule-follower would have been set. No one ever said parenting is easy – and it isn’t. But the rewards in the end far outweigh the challenges.

Instead, this striking mother has chosen to teach her children another lesson. One where when life gets too tough, or you don’t get your way, instead of working through it together in a rational manner, you simply give up and walk away from your responsibilities.

Forget a strike. This should be a lockout.

2006© Menard Communications – Jason Menard All Rights Reserved