Posted: Tuesday, May 19, 2009

In the next few weeks we will watch another batch of Kenai Peninsula seniors graduate, head out into the world and try to begin their lives in the cold cruel world. It is a world like none of us parents had to experience when we graduated from high school years ago. At the graduation many moms will cry as will a few macho dads as well and a few of our children.

We live in a very uncertain world today tarnished with high prices, high unemployment and wars being battled in several countries. Many of our most secure companies have gone bankrupt and took thousands of jobs off the market. Certainly not the real bright and rosy picture we had painted for our children after their birth. Perhaps now the reality of the situation that our children are facing really hits home as graduation time arrives.

Many questions will be asked by parents all across the country as they watch their children walk up and receive that handshake from school dignitaries and get their diploma. Most of the questions will be about our self-evaluation as a parent but also wondering just how our children will respond and handle the difficult times they will face in their lives. Unfortunately the answers to these questions won't be known for many years if at all.

How well have we prepared our children for life after school? Did we teach them good work ethics and the importance of working together? Did we instill in them family values and doing things together as a family? Did we take our children to church or was Sunday just another day off? In the event the depression gets really bad will our children be able to survive by raising or gathering their own food? Can they go out and fill the freezer with fish if they need to? Do they know how to hunt and then how to process whatever kind of game they shoot?

Raising children and teaching them how to survive in a world like we are facing right now is a difficult task. Perhaps the most important full time job you will ever take. I know firsthand a little about raising children as I have been in the child raising business for almost 29 years. I have tried to be there for my children in whatever situation that they have faced but I also know at times I have failed miserably in my handling of certain situations. Each child is different and therefore you must learn to use different methods in dealing with them.

I know that I could count on one hand and still have most of my fingers left the amount of times we have taken our children to the babysitter so we could go out some place in the evening. Generally if we go fishing, camping or hunting our children are with us and we play cards, dominoes or basketball in the evenings we are at home. Sometimes we even pull weeds from our family garden but that job I might add is not a favorite for my children.

My children started using a knife at the age of four right beside me so I could watch them and teach them how to use a knife safely. We have processed 70 road killed moose at our home here in Alaska as well as nearly 1000 chickens and turkeys. We have also processed several thousand fish as well as caribou, deer and bear. Our gardens have yielded hundreds of pounds of potatoes as well as a large assortment of other vegetables.

There are so many family outings that we can do here in Alaska that help put food on the table besides providing exercise. Take a day and go dig clams as a family as well as picking berries or making jelly or honey from what you gathered. For me there is nothing more relaxing as a day of fishing on a quiet lake some place. I feel confident that my children will know how to gather food and feed themselves if the need arises.

I graduated in 1973 and oh what a different world it was then. You could buy a box of Kellogg's Corn flakes for .25, a 15 ounce box of Oreo's for .49, a McDonald's burger for .30, a Hershey's candy bar for .10; and gasoline was as cheap as .19!!! We never heard of terrorist or had cell phones, computers, or IPods. There were no convenience stores; gas stations sold batteries and tires.

If one of your children is graduating this year pat yourself on the back mom or dad as that is a feat in its own in this world. Many children across the U.S. never graduate from high school and will have an even harder time surviving then those that did. Let's all of us parents do all we can to make sure they are properly prepared for life after school.

Make a special effort this summer to do more family outings with your children and teach them as you go. It doesn't hurt for all of the children to know how to clean a fish or how to make jelly. Make your outings fun besides being productive but a little humor can be mixed in too. If you're camping sneak back to the tent and hide their back pack while leaving some chewed up material lying around! Hide one camp slipper for a few minutes but only watch that person hop around on one foot for only a few minutes. Substitute a tube of something else in place of their tooth paste. Use your own imagination on this one though! I think you get the idea!

See you next week!

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