July 19, 2007

Mike Vick, Dog-Fighting, and Parenting

Finger of Blame

It is amazing to me to read the bulk of the writing and commentary that is coming about as a result of the whole legal issue of Mike Vick, his indictment for involvement in dog fighting, and the role of the law and the NFL in controlling his behavior. “Why is it amazing?” you ask. Well to me it is amazing simply because it seems to me that few seem to grasp the whole big picture. Everyone seems to be wanting to point a finger of blame at someone.

The Issue Is Parenting

To me this is really not about Mike Vick and dog fighting. To me this is an issue of great cultural significance because this seems to be evidence of a failure of our older generation in teaching the next generation the way that our democracy works in America.

The Issue Is Teaching Children to Respect Rules and Laws

We are a society of rules and laws! Freedom does not mean fewer laws. Freedom does not mean ignoring laws. Freedom does not mean living outside of the laws. Recently someone gave me a bumper sticker as a joke... but to me it was not a joke. It reads, "It's not guns, stupid; it is a lack of parenting!"

The problem in America is not one of more cops and stiffer penalties; it is clearly a problem of doing a better job of teaching our young people about our way of life. Democracy all starts with respect for the rules and laws we create. It simply does not work if we do not show respect for the rules and laws. Our children need to know that!

What freedom means is more laws! The more laws that you can live within the bounds of, the more freedom you have.

American Parents Have Shirked Their Duty

Our older generation (commonly called the “Baby Boomers”) taught the next generation, by their actions, that if there was something that we felt was wrong with our societies laws; all we had to do was to disobey the law! That is not how it works. That is not Democracy; that is Anarchy!

What a disservice we have done to our younger generation.

The problem with Mike Vick is a lack of parenting! Someone failed to teach him to live within the law. My issue is not specifically with Mike Vick's parents... it is with American parents in general. As a society, we Americans need to do a better job of teaching our children to obey rules and laws!

The Point of This Article

Now, like I said, the purpose of this article is not to point the finger of blame at Mike Vick’s parents. The point of this article is to say to every parent, "we need to pay attention to what we teach our younger generation!"

We Americans need to teach respect for rules and laws!

We need to teach respect for our process of making laws in our great nation. We need to teach our children to respect our way of government and to respect our leaders. We need to teach our young people that if we do not like our leaders and the way that they are leading our country, we need to vote them out of office and replace them with leaders who take us in a direction we want to go.

American Democracy Is Built To Allow Change

We need to teach the next generation of Americans that if there is something that they do not like about our structure of laws they must get involved on our system of representative government and work to change that part of the law that they disagree with.

Our forefathers set up a government with a built-in process for change and improvement. Few young Americans understand how that process even works.

Mike Vick, if he indeed was raising, training, and putting dogs in fights, needed some instruction about how our system works. If it is illegal to do something… don’t do it. If you feel that the law is wrong, work to change it but do not just ignore the law.

Missing the Point

It seems that most of the people writing about this unfortunate event seem to be saying that we need stiffer penalties for violators. They say that the problem is lax penalties and weak leaders in the NFL. They say that the problem is that athletes are paid too much. I say "NO!" to all of that… I say that what we need is better parental guidance.

In my book Parenting with Dignity and in our 9-week Parenting with Dignity course we teach parents how to teach their children respect for rules and laws. What America needs is more parents teaching their children respect for rules and laws! It is that simple.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Mr. Bledsoe, I am a long time subscriber to Parenting with Dignity and I agree wholeheartedly with your article. I would just like to add one comment which is that is a such a shame that an athlete like Michael Vick can get all this press and commentary while athletes like your son who play for 14 years giving the game and the nation the very best of himself in every way including making good decisions about his own behavior in the face of great disappointment and injustice, get no press time at all--a tiny paragraph in SI when he retires. Shame on the press.