You read it right, friends. Believe it or not, it is the name of magazine: “Garden and Gun; Soul of the New South.” As I sat waiting at a friend’s house this week, I picked it up to read. Fascinating. I wasn’t born in the south, but I wish I was. I’ve been eating grits, rice and gravy, okra, catfish and ribs for as long as I can remember. Our family has gone through a gallon of sweet tea a day since Bill and I married back in the 70′s…. Am I telling my age? Oh well.
The article that tickled my fancy in this particular issue, was called “Fetch Daddy a Drink,” by P.J. O’Rourke (I find myself wondering whether that is a man’s real name — but whatever — this is the south)….. It was the sub-title that caught my attention — “How to apply gun-dog training methods to your children.” I was hooked. Was Mr. O’Rourke calling my children animals? (Not that I hadn’t thought it quietly to myself once or twice when they were smaller — but to put such a thing in print? Really now…)
In a nutshell, Mr. O’Rourke had taken the instructions of famous dog-trainer, Richard Wolters, in the book “Gun Dog” and translated them into parenting lingo. While the hilarious outcome of his discussion was entertaining, I found several things I agree with, that I can’t resist sharing with you; logging them away here in cyberspace.
Three Rules To Train A Good Dog
1. Start ‘em young — Don’t wait to train a pup until he is a year old. Begin early. Make solid imprintings that leave a legacy of behavior patterns. (I stopped to think; manners, habits, making the bed, even prayer….. okay.) O’Rourke says puppies who begin training at one year see a success rate of 20%, while puppies who begin such training at 5 weeks see a rate of 90%. (In people years, that would mean waiting until my child was 7 to expect him/her to make their bed….. and looking back… potty training definitely had to happen earlier than seven…. Continue O’Rourke… I’m listening.)
2. Repetition, repetition, repetition. Keep repeating the lesson until the pup learns it, Mr O’Rourke says. (My years as a children’s pastor tell me this is true as well — I always had to remember the One Minute Window Rule. That’s the rule that says I get one minute of undivided attention from a child for every year of their emotional development….. Hmm…. are we on to something?)
3. Keep things concise. ”Don’t clutter a pup’s brain with useless nonsense,” quotes the author. “Keep your commands short.” (I agreed with him up til now, so I read on…. ) The basic commands are SIT, STAY, COME, and WHOA. According to O’Rourke, his son will need to learn those rules if he wants to experience a happy marriage….
I put the magazine down. I found myself smiling — and at the same time wondering whether the author didn’t have a good point in the midst of his bizarre approach to child rearing.
In the 1920′s, algebra and geometry were college courses, as were foreign languages, and the lab sciences. Back then, long division was introduced in the freshman year of high school. Music, the arts, and hands-on classes were part of the learning experience; education utilized all of the learning styles. Now, in the twenty-first century, our schools are aimed for the 7% of the population who are visual learners. We are harried, hassled, and time compressed. And now? Five times the amount of information the children of the 20′s and 50′s were expected to absorb, is now on the plates of our children who attend school. We have become obsessed as a nation with seeking to make sure our children know more, do more, make more and become more than any generation before them…..
Additionally, our children’s health conditions show the results of that approach to preparing them for adult life. They struggle with ADHD, ADD, childhood depression, behavioral disorders, OCD, obesity, anxiety, sleep disorders, to name a few. Just last week, I read a news article about a middle schooler who had tried to end his life. Presently, in my own counseling practice, I regularly see at least five children under the age of 12, with big-people sized problems.
What’s gone wrong with our plan?
Which brings me back to Mr. O’Rourke. There are two major elements underlying the author’s entire “gun-dog” approach to parenting; elements we all really should adhere to if we desire success in raising our children — or our grandchildren — or our employees, even, for that matter. They are elements applying on any level of leading — whether coaching, counseling, mentoring, teaching or parenting.
That missing element is Relationship; personal contact and consistent communication. To put it in “gun-dog” lingo: When an owner trains a pup, he is personally involved, on every level, for each stage. He learns to anticipate what the pup will do. He spends time observing; learning how his dog thinks. It’s how obedience happens. It’s how loyalty is nurtured.
With personal time.
As parents, we teach our children not only by what we say, but by what they see us doing; day in and day out. Our actions and attitudes do more to teach than any lecture. Thank you Mr. O’Rourke for your insight, and your humor….
I know I needed your advice. And the laughs.
But I don’t think I will ever be able to look at one of my children with a palm raised like a stop sign and utter, “Sit and stay.” (I’d like to raise their personal value level a little higher than that, I think.)
(C)2010 DG– awakenedtogrow.com