Braselton News

May 21, 2008


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Column
By Kerri Testement

The tough part of parenthood
I finally caught myself saying something that I thought I wouldn’t say: “Don’t stick your finger in the cat’s butt.”
Yep, you know your child is reaching that wonderful time as a toddler when you start telling your kid where NOT to stick her finger.
My daughter, Katie, is now 19 months old — and she is realizing how far she can push our buttons.
Sometimes it’s cute. At the first hint that a “no” may be coming out of my mouth, she pouts her lip and buries her head under any object she can find.
Sometimes it’s not so cute — like when she tries playing with a messy diaper. She knows not to touch it, but she tries to make things worse.
She knows that if she makes a fake gagging noise, that an adult will come running to her side. She knows that if she turns off the TV that someone will turn it back on.
How do I know she is understanding what is “right” and what is “wrong” at such a young age? She gets THAT look on her face. That look you catch her throwing at you just before she does something bad. Every parent knows what that look is on their child’s face.
Katie is entering a new phase of childhood — the time when she is just starting to understand how her actions have consequences.
We’ve done a lot for her in the past year and a half — changed countless diapers, cleaned plenty of messy clothes, read lots of books to her, and even handed her over to surgeons for two heart surgeries and a stomach surgery.
And now comes the even harder part: Raising a good kid.
No parent says they plan to raise a bad kid. We don’t say we want to raise the biggest brat on the block. We don’t say we want our child to be the most inconsiderate kid in a classroom. We don’t say we want our child to have the worst manners possible. And we certainly don’t want them to become criminals.
That’s the tricky part of parenthood — doing what’s best for your child now, while still making them a better person for adulthood.
There are plenty of books, websites and television shows giving parents advice on raising good kids. But, doesn’t it seem like many of us are missing the mark?
Just visit a youth sporting event and it’s not too difficult to spot the kid whose parent lacks parenting skills.
No one is the perfect parent. We all make mistakes. And when we realize those mistakes, it makes it even more difficult to endure since it involves your child.
But, it’s our responsibility to not just provide food, shelter, clothing and medical care for our children, but to also make them better adults than ourselves. And that not only takes discipline, but love, too.
Kerri Testement is the news editor for The Braselton News. Her e-mail address is kerri@mainstreetnews.com.

Are governments too ‘professional?’
There’s a growing suspicion by many observers that we’ve over-professionalized local governments. For decades, citizens bucked against elected officials, especially those who were perceived to be incompetent. Citizens clamored for a more professional approach to government.
So we hired city managers, county managers and other professional people who specialize in pulling the levers of government bureaucracy.
That wasn’t all bad. Some of the demands on government today require highly specialized training to fathom. And nobody is against good quality management.
But the downside of this movement has been to have the tail wag the dog. These appointed professionals often control the flow of information to their governing bodies and jealously guard that data. Professional managers realize that knowledge is power and power gives them the ability to better manipulate their elected overseers.
One of the ways they do that is through what has become an abuse of “retreat” meetings. Local governments leave town to spend two or three days conducting the public’s business out of the prying eyes of local citizens. This began as an occasional event to do “long-term” planning, but has now become ingrained in most governments’ annual agenda.
Professional bureaucrats love these meetings. It’s easier to manipulate the bosses when you do it away from a room full of citizens watching your every move.
Another “professional” impulse has been for governments to attempt to limit public comment at their meetings. School systems are the worst abusers of this. They carefully control their agenda and often discourage parents from speaking out at school board meetings.
But other governments are guilty as well. Professional managers hate unscripted comments at a meeting. They can’t control the agenda with pesky citizens speaking out.
The main concern of many professional managers is to make sure their own elected officials exist in a state of harmony. As “professionals,” they detest conflict, especially conflict between their bosses that happens in the public eye. So they guide elected officials into keeping dissension behind closed doors, out of the public view. They promote retreats as a way for officials to “know each other better” to build a bulwark against internal disputes. And they seek to keep the public at arm’s length by managing the “public comment period” at meetings.
This controlled atmosphere is a clever way professional managers can massage that message, build alliances, stroke egos and keep the public horde away. That serves to increase the job security of the “professional” in charge. Whether or not it promotes the public’s interest is a secondary consideration.
To an extent, we’ve gotten what we asked for in “professional” governments. We do have clever people who know how to get things done.
The problem is, these “professionals” hate to do their jobs out in the open where we can watch them.



 

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