I watched a few minutes of the 'Town Hall about Nothing' and realized that any response to it would be full of sarcasm and name-calling. I'm going in a different direction today.
I have a friend that is also a co-worker and a guy I consider to be a really good parent. A few years ago he went through a divorce and has primary custody of his three kids but accommodates his schedule to a degree for the ex-wife to have access to the children. Most of the time this access is frustrated by the fact that she doesn't always want them and is flaky and unreliable about getting the kids where they belong if he's at work. This isn't about her though, it's about him.
His 12 year old son was beginning to show some unhealthy life-signs. His son would routinely show up to school but wouldn't get anything done. It wasn't long before the grade of F had found its way into every subject in his report card. No acting out, no trouble, and no other problems with him existed except that he didn't care. I think in this difficult time in his life he felt rather discouraged and relatively unwanted.
My friend really analyzed the situation and talked to his son and realized that putting more pressure on him produced more stress and even less involvement in school. He didn't want this to spread to other areas of his life so he did something I could never have predicted. He beat him senselessly.
I'm just kidding, he didn't do that at all. I just wanted to make sure you were still paying attention. My buddy spent some time in South Africa earlier in his life and has always wanted to return. He told his son that he wanted to return to South Africa this year and he was going to take him along. They were going to spend a couple of weeks there and spend some time in a reserve, essentially living in a safari. Suddenly his son became interested.
Interested in everything. This hail-Mary of an attempt to awaken his son's senses worked. Without much prodding his son began getting great grades in school and has become interested because of the massive investment made by his father to show that his son mattered. My friend ran this idea by a family counselor they knew and the counselor told my buddy to take his son even if the school complains, whether he's failing or not.
Since the initial decision to go my friend has decided to take each of his kids on one big trip that was designed just for them.
Now granted, if they get eaten by lions this story will take a sad turn but for now I just wanted to recognize what I consider to be a great story no matter how it ends. They leave in a couple of weeks.
Oh, and the debate last night was stupid.