Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Raising Cole

I finally finished reading Raising Cole by Marc Pittman. It was a nice book about a man who lost his son in a car accident. The family lives in the Shreveport, Louisiana region and the son was attending UT Austin.

Despite the book being pretty good, there were some parts of it that I had a hard time with. The father is an avid hunter. He and his friends get together and go hunting. While hunting, one of the men came up with "Dead Man's Talk". The premise is basically what's said here, stays here. In addition to that, the men aren't allowed to show emotion or comment on what's been said by the other men. That's fine with me. Well, the author decided to implement Dead Man's Talk with his two sons stating it would enrich their relationship by building an unbreakable trust between them.

I told them they could tell me anything. That could mean anything they were doing or thinking of doing, anything their friends were doing or thinking of doing. Whatever they told me would stay with me. No matter how much I might want to punish them for it, I couldn't. No matter how much I wanted to lecture them, I wouldn't.
This is where I disagree.

Yes, it is very important to build a strong relationship with your children. Yes, it is very important to build a trusting relationship with your children. However, it is also important to remain your children's PARENT. I mentioned this part of the book while at jaymen's mom's house this weekend. My brother-in-law agreed with me. He stated it perfectly when he said part of lecturing your kids when they have done something wrong is showing them you love them and want to keep them safe. Surprisingly, this bit of wisdom comes from a man who doesn't even have kids yet.

Another issue I take with the book is when Cole was being bullied at school. The author's solution to this problem was telling his incredibly impressionable son:

Son, you're going to have to let this kid know that you will fight," I said. "The next time this kid does anything to you, you hit him with all you've got. You hit him right on the end of the nose. You may get whipped, but people will find out you'll fight, that you'll defend yourself, and they'll leave you alone.
When that approach didn't work, he had another brilliant solution. He had Cole get into their vehicle and asked the younger son, "Son, would you like to see Cole whip this boy?" So the younger kid goes along with them. He coaches Cole on the way to the bully's house, "Get him down, don't let him up, and put him in the hospital."

They get to the kid's house and find out from his mother that he isn't there. The author proceeds to tell the mother, "Well, Cole is here, and he is fixing to put him in the hospital. He has picked on Cole, he has done this, he has done that, and it's disrupting Cole at school, and this needs to be addressed." The bully's father tells the author that when the son gets home they will bring him to his house. When they show up later and are sitting inside, the author tells the bully,
I have told Cole to put you in the hospital. I don't want him to stop until your eyes are blacked out, your nose is broke, and your teeth are gone. I want him to hurt you. You are going to have the same opportunity to hurt Cole, and we are not going to stop it.
The kids didn't fight, nor did the author say if this approach worked. Whether it did or not, I still disagree with the method.

The final point that annoyed me was at the end of the book. The father of Cole's fiance called the Pittman house and told the author that she was pregnant with Cole's baby. Everyone is pleased beyond belief even though they are concerned about the reputations of Cole and the fiance. I can understand both viewpoints. They don't want her reputation or Cole's memory tarnished, but they are happy that they will have another part of Cole still here on Earth. While finally breaking the news to their friends worrying what they will think and say, they find out all their friends had been praying for this to happen. Even their preacher tells them, "we have been praying for it diligently."

I'm not even going to comment on why that one annoyed me because now I am getting angry and The Amazing Race has already started.


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