I recently asked a married couple who have three kids, none of whom are yet teens, “Who are the most important people in your family?”
Like all good moms and dads of this brave new millennium, they answered, “Our kids!”
“Why?” I then asked. “What is it about your kids that gives them that status?” And like all good moms and dads of this brave new millennium, they couldn’t answer the question other than to fumble with appeals to emotion.
John Rosemond | Syndicated columnist
So, I answered the question for them: “There is no reasonable thing that gives your children that status.”
I went on to point out that many if not most of the problems they’re having with their kids — typical stuff, these days — are the result of treating their children as if they, their marriage, and their family exist because of the kids when it is, in fact, the other way around. Their kids exist because of them and their marriage and thrive because they have created a stable family.
Furthermore, without them, their kids wouldn’t eat well, have the nice clothing they wear, live in the nice home in which they live, enjoy the great vacations they enjoy, and so on. Instead of lives that are relatively carefree (despite the drama to the contrary that they occasionally manufacture), their children would be living lives full of worry and want.
This issue is really the heart of the matter. People my age know it’s the heart of the matter because when we were kids it was clear to us that our parents were the most important people in our families. And that, right there, is why we respected our parents and that, right there, is why we looked up to adults in general. Yes, Virginia, once upon a time in the United States of America, children were second-class citizens, to their advantage.
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It was also clear to us — I speak, of course, in general terms, albeit accurate — that our parents’ marriages were more important to them than their relationships with us. Therefore, we did not sleep in their beds or interrupt their conversations. The family meal, at home, was regarded as more important than after-school activities. Mom and Dad talked more — a lot more — with one another than they talked with you. For lack of pedestals, we emancipated earlier and much more successfully than have children since.
The most important person in an army is the general. The most important person in a corporation is the CEO. The most important person in a classroom is the teacher. And the most important person in a family are the parents.
The most important thing about children is the need to prepare them properly for responsible citizenship. The primary objective should not be raising a straight-A student who excels at three sports, earns a spot on the Olympic swim team, goes to an A-list university and becomes a prominent brain surgeon. The primary objective is to raise a child such that community and culture are strengthened.
“Our child is the most important person in our family” is the first step toward raising a child who feels entitled.
You don’t want that. Unbeknownst to your child, he doesn’t need that. And neither does America.
Eugene "Mean Gene" Okerlund
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Peter Mayhew, the towering actor who donned a huge, furry costume to give life to the rugged-and-beloved character of Chewbacca in the original "Star Wars" trilogy and two other films, died Tuesday, April 30, 2019. He was 74.
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Tim Conway, the impish second banana to Carol Burnett who won four Emmy Awards on her TV variety show, starred aboard "McHale's Navy" and later voiced the role of Barnacle Boy for "Spongebob Squarepants," died Tuesday, May 14, 2019. He was 85.
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LaShawn Daniels, a Grammy Award-winning songwriter who penned songs for Beyoncé, Whitney Houston and Lady Gaga died in a car crash Tuesday, Sept. 3. He was 41.
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Eddie Money, who left behind a career as a New York police officer to become one of the top-selling rock stars of the 1970s and '80s, with hits like "Two Tickets to Paradise" and "Take Me Home Tonight," died Friday, Sept. 13. He was 70.
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Ric Ocasek, The Cars frontman whose deadpan vocal delivery and lanky, sunglassed look defined a rock era with chart-topping hits like "Just What I Needed," was discovered dead Sunday, Sept. 15, in his Manhattan apartment.
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Modified stock car great Michael Stefanik died Sunday, Sept. 15, in a single-engine plane crash. He was 61.
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Phyllis Newman, a Tony Award-winning Broadway veteran who became the first woman to host "The Tonight Show" before turning her attention to fight for women's health, died Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019. She was 86.
Cokie Roberts, the daughter of politicians and a pioneering journalist who chronicled Washington from Jimmy Carter to Donald Trump for NPR and ABC News, died Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2019, of complications from breast cancer. She was 75.
Suzanne Whang, whose smooth, calm voice provided the narration for HGTV's "House Hunters" for years, died Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2019. She was 57.
Sid Haig, the bearded character actor best known as Captain Spaulding in the “House of 1000 Corpses” trilogy, died Saturday, Sept. 21, 2019, after a recent fall in his home. He was 80.
Celebrity chef Carl Ruiz died Sunday, Sept. 22, 2019, according to an Instagram post by Ruiz's restaurant, La Cubana. He was 44.
Mexican crooner José José, the elegant dresser who moved audiences to tears with melancholic love ballads and was known as the "Prince of Song," died Saturday, Spet. 28. He was 71.
Jessye Norman, the renowned international opera star whose passionate soprano voice won her four Grammy Awards, the National Medal of Arts and the Kennedy Center Honor, died Monday, Sept. 30, according to family spokesperson Gwendolyn Quinn. She was 74.
Diahann Carroll, the Oscar-nominated actress and singer who won critical acclaim as the first black woman to star in a non-servant role in a TV series as "Julia," died Friday, Oct. 4. She was 84.
Family psychologist John Rosemond can be reached at