Country Living Series

Thursday, September 1, 2011

"What mama taught me"

If there's one thing I absolutely love to hear, it's how peoples' good, sound, sensible choices positively impact their lives. That's the whole premise of the Simplicity Primer, after all -- the benefits of making good choices.

A couple days ago I read this letter to Dr. Laura which illustrated the point so beautifully I'm reproducing it here:

Dear Dr. Laura,

You asked what we as parents have taught our children about drugs. I can't answer that because I've not had children. But I want to share with you what my Mama taught me about drugs.

I was born and raised in the projects in California. Children in gangs, children taking drugs, and children having babies were all around me. One day, quite frustrated perhaps her words weren't getting through to me about certain things, Mama began pointing out the natural consequences of choices to me.

When another 12 year old girl was pregnant, Mama taught (with a very clear visual) what happens when children have children: I watched as the girl brought the baby home from the hospital, watched as the girl quit school, watched as they lived on welfare.

She did this each time something arose: a kid pinned to death to a fence, the police taking away some kid, etc.

The saddest and hardest lesson, however, came with drugs.

When my dearest friend became involved with drugs, as difficult as it was to listen to, Mama told me point-by-point what her drug use was doing to her family… Then Mama pointed out what it was doing to me: I lost my friend - not to death but because she didn't exist any longer due to drugs. I cried myself to sleep many nights. My friend used me to steal money from people she knew and left me literally holding the bag for her actions: she lied to me and deceived me.

I was a 12 year old child and my world changed. I learned there are very few choices and actions which do not affect someone else, especially those who love us.

When I entered high school I knew the signs of someone using and I stayed away from them. I had sorrow for their families and I knew the eventual consequences: dropping out of school, becoming lost, becoming worse than dead to friends and family because who they were was being eroded by the drugs.

I never experimented with drugs. Not because of what my Mama taught me, but because of what she helped me clearly see.

Perhaps today the answer for parents isn't WHAT they teach their children, but what they help their children to SEE. To see clearly is something that doesn't exist among many children today, I've observed. To be quick to observe and to learn from what others are doing - THAT is seeing clearly. And perhaps THAT way of teaching is more important than words - like how my Mama taught me.


God bless this woman's mama.

Occasionally I get lambasted for my "intolerant" views on poverty and welfare and other such issues because I firmly believe most (not all, but most) long-term poverty results from making poor choices.  I'm not talking about temporary setbacks like unemployment or medical issues; I'm talking about chronic long-term poverty in which multiple generations of children are never taught the consequences of poor choices... just like this woman illustrates in her letter to Dr. Laura.

What kind of poor choices can result in long-term poverty?  As the letter-writer mentioned, taking drugs.  Having babies out of wedlock.  Not finishing school.  Other issues (which, remember, are choices) include having a poor work ethic.  Being dishonest.  Refusing to stand on one's own two feet.  Having a gimme-gimme entitlement mentality.

If you haven't been raised with solid stable virtues, then they're harder to acquire.  But as the letter-writer clearly demonstrates, it's entirely possible.  It's people like her that give me such hope for our world.

My mother was raised in horrible poverty by a brutal alcoholic father.  She could have followed the easy path and stayed in poverty by marrying a brutal alcoholic man (in fact, she got close).  But she didn't.  She was wise enough to know that her choices would impact her future.  Instead she choose to marry a stable decent man like my father.

Choices choices choices.  That's what it comes down to, folks.  It's all up to you.  It's in your hands.


  1. A great commentary, both the 1st person observations based on what Mama taught Daughter to see, but yours too Patrice. I might add that the decisions you reference, the poor ones, are all to often prime examples of an individual making those decisions based solely on what is the easiest course of action at the time without regard to long term consequences.
    Keep up the good work!

  2. Agree with Anon! Great commentary.

    (sigh) I wished more parents would help their children see but I fear that many parents have never seen either. How many generations have received welfare since President Johnson began his war on poverty?

    Just this morning my wife and I were discussing the eventual outcome of a welfare state that no longer has the resources (money) to give to those receiving welfare. The violence will begin where there are many receiving welfare - rust belt big cities.

    Pray for our Nation.

  3. Sadly, for every 1 young person who "gets it" ("it" being the fact that poor choices lead to a poor life), there are 10 others who don't get it and never will. And that percentage is growing. So long as poor choices are rewarded by the government at taxpayers' expense, then poor choices will continue to be made at an increasing percentage.

    There should be no taxpayer funded government handouts. None, period. The only way to take care of the truly needy is through non-profit organizationses such as churches, the Red Cross, Salvation Army, etc. Those who donate to them get tax breaks and those who benefit from them are required to prove need. Whenever the government gets involved in deciding who deserves help, it immediately chooses sides and that isn't right. It also becomes massively inefficient and there is far too much graft, greed, deceit, and lack of oversight. Bottom line: the government is the problem.

    Anonymous Patriot

  4. My mother stayed at home while dad worked and not only did she take care of me and my older brother but also watched other folks kids after school. She got up at 4:30 am to cook dad breakfast and always made us supper at night. I thought everyone did this until i got into high school and learned not all moms cook. The other kids would yell at there moms and the moms would yell back. I never yelled at my mom and she never yelled at me. Even when I blew a good sized crater in the field one time, at the time i was engaged in an ongoing war of atrition with a particular tricky and diabolical groundhog, or my many failed attempts to teach our chickens to fly. FYI if you throw the same chicken off the barn roof 10 times at best it can only do a controled fall. My mom greatest lesson was to help other folks when they can't help themselves. The coolest was how to hypnotize chickens.
    P.S. all errors in spelling are products of public school education

  5. Anon. 10:39am has it right. It's a coming certainty, and it's a dynamic our current pretender in chief is preparing to unleash and exploit in the coming year. Everybody needs to be clear on that, but too few are. It could get be brutal.

    As cynical as it may sound to some, the sooner such a societal show down and shifting comes, the better it is for everyone, in the sense that today we still have those living among us who can remember life before the so-called Great Society ushered in by the alleged war on poverty. Some folks know there was a 17% illegitimacy rate in the black population, and the overwhelming number of black families had fathers at home. Many were thriving small business owners, as well.

    Today's black youth are living in a socially engineered apparition of supposed victim-hood and oppression. They're a crop of rage ready for the harvest and eager to inflict harm, as witnessed by the previewing glimpses we seen in roving mobs and escalated violence targeting whites.

    It's a scourge generated and exploited by the left.

    It's such a blessing to live in the country.

    A. McSp

  6. I am new to this blog. With all due respect, some women are thrust into poverty because their husbands abandon them. Look around you, and you will see that there are many women who are displaced homemakers abandoned from their husbands. There are many people who fall ill with cancer and are unable to work. I am a hard core Republican but I am also a religious woman and Judeo-Christian faiths teach compassion and helping the poor and the needy. In today's horrible economy, many people lose jobs etc. You are lucky that economic dependency on your husband has thus far worked out for you, however, if you have been out of the workforce for a long time, you too could end up poor if God forbid your husband were to get ill, die a sudden death, or it divorce were to happen. Unfortunately there are many devoted homemakers who worked hard to make a good home and to be attentive wives and mothers only to be abandoned by their husbands at a later date. Instead of being prideful, perhaps you should be thankful that you are able to live the life you do and learn to be more compassionate towards the plight of poverty.