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Boomers Learned Their Family Values by Example

August 25, 2000

Regarding Sandy Banks' column ("What Are Boomer Parents Teaching Kids?" Aug. 15). The answer is, probably whatever boomer parents were taught by their parents. I grew up in a suburban '50s neighborhood of parents who drank, smoked, swore, philandered, scofflawed and lived their lives by other such enduring and endearing family values. I'm proud to report I never took up smoking.

But are the other sins of this father necessarily visited upon his child? My 11-year-old son has never seen his 11-year-sober father drink or take drugs. The son has taken these healthful behaviors to heart even if, at his pre-pubescent age, it's too early to conclude anything of his teen and adult decisions.

But what of my other faulty behaviors? My son and I have contempt for public and private use of vulgar language, including mine. I share with my son my feelings of shame and share my hope that he does not behave as I do. My son respects my pained honesty, disrespects all the more my misbehaviors.

So, in response to Ms. Banks' question, the answer can't be yes, because children will learn from their parents' teaching by omission as well as commission.


San Diego


Sandy Banks' column really hit the nail on the head. I hated to be told what to do when I was growing up, so when I went out on my own at 18, I did whatever I wanted, and other people be damned. Looking back, that was so very selfish. Yet, I don't want my kids to do things they don't want to do . . . but what kind of character does that create? What kind of guidelines does that give them?

I see, through your column, that it's our job to tell them no.

No, you can't see that particular movie; no, you cannot buy any parental-advisory CDs; yes, you must be respectful to others; yes, you must dress appropriately (sometimes compromise is necessary here); no, you may not pierce or tattoo anything until you are over 18. I guess we have to be the Bad Guys, but someone has to, or the kids will have no moral compass. Yes, they most likely will step over the boundaries we set (we are not ignorant parents), but at least they will know where we stand.


Fountain Valley

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