Friday, December 30, 2005

Raising Good Kids Aint Easy

"Raise up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it." ~ Proverbs 22:6

I like to think I am doing a pretty fair job raising my son, but I sometimes wonder how good a job I'm doing. Yesterday I read this story in AOL news:

Bank Robber Turned in by Sons Gets 40 Years
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - A family man once regarded as a pillar of the community was sentenced to 40 years in prison Thursday for a string of bank robberies after being turned in by his own sons, who recognized him in a surveillance photo.

The judge imposed the minimum sentence on 64-year-old William Alfred "Al" Ginglen. Ginglen, who pleaded guilty in July to pulling seven bank robberies in 2003 and 2004, was also ordered to pay $56,382 in restitution.

U.S. District Judge Jeanne Scott called Ginglen's sons "the greatest credit of your life."

"They acted in an exemplary fashion under circumstances that must have been incredibly difficult," she said. "Someone taught them right from wrong, even when you didn't. Their actions perhaps saved your life."

You can read the rest of the article by clicking on the link above.

That article makes me think. I wonder if my son would turn me in if I was robbing banks. And if so, is that because I taught him to do the right thing or because he doesn't appreciate my efforts?

<--My son, mugging for the camera a couple of years ago.

I have mentioned before that my son is difficult to read, because he doesn't show emotions outwardly. Yesterday, I learned from a pastor that my son is not only participating in Wednesday night prayer meetings at the church where he goes on Wednesdays to skateboard in the parking lot, but that he actually requested prayer for his older brother. I was astounded. He never mentions his brother to me. Ever.

Just in case you missed it, a few months ago, his brother, my stepson, was shot in the back during a drive by type shooting in Kansas City. Two young girls were killed and 9 people were wounded, including my stepson. I wrote about it here.

Another thing that has an impact on him, and because it affects him, it affects me. His mom, who up until this year, had made at least some attempts to stay involved in his life, has apparently chosen now to bow out of it, without letting us know. She used to receive money to buy him Christmas and Birthday gifts from her parents, and would in turn send the money to him. This year, no money or even any correspondence has been received from her. I tried to call her but her number has been disconnected. She has left no forwarding number or address. I know he is hurt by her abandonment of him.

That is something he has mentioned.

But in spite of all that, he is still a pretty good kid. We have our moments. Just tonight I had to reprimand him again for throwing ink pens. (He has developed a habit of throwing my pens around, I think, just because he knows it annoys me) But at least he isn't a criminal, and doesn't hang around with gang bangers like his brother does.

There is a group of young men in our little town, around 18-20 years of age, who have something of a reputation for being involved in crimes like B&E and drugs. They attempted to befriend my son, but he wants nothing to do with them. He says he doesn't like them because they are "potheads".

Did I mention that he is one of the most popular kids in town?

I am proud of him for being discerning about that. But I still wonder how much of that is because of my influence. I think it has more to do with what he has seen happen to his brother over and over.

I suppose I should be thankful for little blessings. Whatever the reasons.

Incidently, I asked my son if he would turn me in if he found out I was robbing banks. He said, "I would turn you in but keep the money and tell the police you spent it all."



Etchen said...

Well, at least he has a plan in case he needs to turn you in. ;-) Too funny. He sounds just wonderful and I hope you have told him how proud of him you really are. I have a brother like your oldest son, and I have to say that it is a combination of parenting and watching his incredible mistakes that kept me on the straight and narrow. I don't know you personally, but I would stake money on the fact that you are an excellent father. (Even if he would keep the money after turning you in!--hey, did you ask him what he would do with the money?)

Gayle said...

Yeah, Mark, ask him what he would do with the money!

It sounds to me like your son is very bright and has a dry sense of humor. Not a bad thing at all!

I know it happens all of the time, but I can't imagine a mother abandoning her child. After all, my granddaughter who I raised as our daughter (adopted her), was abandoned by her birth mother. (Her birth mother wasn't my daughter but my son's wife). It's extremely traumatic on any youngster and if your son is staying out of trouble you should count your blessings. Well... it sounds as though you already are.

I believe you've been a good parent when you have done the very best you know how... and it sounds as though you have. :)

Happy New Year!

Gayle said...

One more thing...

For some reason most kids don't feel comfortable expressing their internal feelings with their parents. The fact that he went to the church and asked the pastor to pray for his brother is a sign he is dealing with it in his own way.

When my daughter's best friend died of leukemia, and another best friend died in a car accident, she did not share her inner feelings with me until much later after the fact. It took an entire year for her to be able to talk about the girlfriend who died of leukemia. My daughter was 12 at the time. Now she is 18. The other friend who died in a car accident died when my daughter was 17. It took three months for her to be able to talk about it with me.

TECH said...

Your son's answer is priceless! :) Sounds like he has a good sense of humor.

Erudite Redneck said...

Sounds like you got a purdy good young'un started there, Mark. :-) Hold on, tho.

There has been a thawing of relations between my Bird and I, but she is my Baby Bird no more. She's fledged, fully.

I'm still struggling to find the right kind of relationship with this young woman who used to be our little girl.

Poison Pero said...

I know the question was about the kid and the bank robbery, but I can't get past the story inside the story.

Your family has suffered through much, Mark, and your ex-wife has fucked it up even more....Sorry for the language, but no other word fit.

I rip fathers who abandon their kids, but mothers who do so are equally horrible if not worse.

I've alluded to my childhood, and can feel for your son.....I was a complete basketcase from the time I was 8-17, and then joined the Air Force. I needed something to right my ship and I needed to be part of something special. This made me feel special.

That said, I'm still an nutcase when it comes to relationships.....The only people I trust are my kids, and I open up completely to NO ONE!!!!

18 years later and I still cry over certain songs, and admit to doing so reading your post.

LOVE YOUR BOY, MARK!!!! It's impossible to stress how much he needs you........And equally impossible to stress how much he needs his mother too.

I hate my father like no one else, haven't talked to him in years, yet still long for him......It is crazy, but it is something we all need. Your son will feel the same about his mother, even if he doesn't verbalize it.

I wish you the best of luck, my friend......I hope you are the man I think you are, because he's going to need everything you have to give.

Kyle Foley said...

i'm very sorry about your stepson. also i'm very happy for your son's faith. has he had a direct experience with God or he is praying because it's the right thing to do? if it's the former then his faith will probably last throughout his life, if it's the latter i fear that he might abandon the faith as so many do. i pray that he will seek to have a real experience with God if he has not yet.

Wigwam Jones said...

Just found your blog while searching for more information on Tokyo Rose. The collective subconscious strikes again, I guess. I just used the term myself last night - in regard to chatvertisers who are pulling a T.R. and acting all innocent. Anyway, sounds like you have a good son. Best of luck and Happy New Year!

Mark said...

Girls are different, ER. I have one daughter who tested her wings between her 15th and 20th years, in which she flirted with danger, and caused me major headaches. At one point she took 80 extra strength Tylenol and hovered on the brink of death for about a week. Somehow she survived and we have a pretty good, if long distance relationship now. She is 26 now, with a child of her own.

Kyle, That comment is welcome here. All you have to do is stay on topic and almost any comment will be allowed here, providing it doesn't personally insult one of my other commentators.

If you want to complain about the President or his administration's policies, all you have to do is wait. I post a comment on that subject at least once a week, generally.

Mark said...

Oh, and welcome, Wigwam. Come back soon and often.

FrenziedFeline said...

It's not such a little blessing that your son has learned from others' mistakes.

I like your son's sense of humor. Keep up the good work! :)

jgf said...

Love his sense of humor!

The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

I'd turn you in as well Mark! And collect the reward money!

It sounds like you have a great son. Keep doing what you've been doing.

Pamela Reece said...

Mark, as a Mother of 4 children I understand the difficulties of raising good kids. Some days, I think I'm a complete failure and it's all my fault, sometimes I blame society, sometimes I blame the lady down the street. Mostly, though, I try not to blame myself or anyone else for the difficulties my children experience. It's just part of our lives for reasons unknown yet.

I hope you recognize, Mark, that not only is your son growing and learning from these experiences, but so are you. Sometimes I think I learn more through my children than I ever have in my own life. They test me constantly on bravery, patience, stability, anger, sorrow, and faith.

You are doing a wonderful job with your son. If I got the reward money? Hmmm...give it away to a charity. Doing the right thing should be a personal reward, not monetary.