An example can't run astray

STEVE SMITH

Not all parents understand that their lives have to change when they

have kids. It's not an option, folks; your life has to change. Some

of that is good, and some of that is bad.

One of the first things that changes is your privacy. When you

have kids, you can forget about privacy. In fact, here are your

options:

* Put locks on all the doors where you don't want kids walking in.

* Send them out to play when you want some privacy.

* Wait until they're asleep.

Option number three doesn't work as well as kids grow into

teenagers. Turns out that most teens need less sleep than their

parents, so they stay up later. By the way, as long as they're up, is

it too much to ask for them to do something constructive like paint

the house?

Other things that parents should change include entertainment

habits and speech patterns.

When you have kids, you have to do all this "walking the walk"

stuff which means that you can't do anything you don't want your kids

to do, otherwise your credibility is shot.

If you don't want your kids to swear, you have to stop saying,

"Those $%#@& Angels lost again!"

If you don't want your kids to watch trash on TV, you have to turn

off the reruns of "Lifestyles of the Unimportant."

That's the way it goes. Most parents don't blame anyone, because

they realize that this is the life they signed up for. Well, most of

them signed up for it. There are some local high-profile parents who

seem to believe that setting an example and setting boundaries is not

the best way to parent.

Instead, partly because they believe their money and power means

they can play by a separate set of rules and partly because they're

simply of poor character, they go about walking some other kind of

walk.

I don't care much that Kobe Bryant's accuser may call off the

criminal dogs out to get him -- that case was coming down to a "he

said, she said" with plenty of reasonable doubt. What I am upset

about is how his infidelity has received almost no attention at all.

Perhaps no one told him -- no one set an example for him -- that

marriage is a whole new game, and if you're not prepared to play by

its rules, don't play at all. So he walks around a hero still.

The U.S. government is starting to walk the family walk a little

more. Correction. Right now, it's talk; hopefully it will be talk in

a few months.

A couple of days ago, the Bush administration proposed a change in

federal law that would allow businesses the option of giving their

employees time off in lieu of time-and-a-half.

I like this idea, provided the employee has a choice and is not

forced to take one or the other. I like it because it answers a

demand I've seen in many reputable studies over the years -- that is,

given the choice, most people would opt for more time off instead of

more pay.

This option is a breath of fresh air from an administration that

has claimed the family-values high ground but has done little to

support the concept.

The Bush administration should not be singled out for this fault.

The family values mantra has been uttered for years by Democrats too.

Bill Clinton tried it and then cheated on his wife. So much for the

family values campaign in that era.

It is said that parents make sacrifices for their kids but that's

not true. Parents only make sacrifices for their kids when they

believe they've been cut out of something, usually the life they used

to have. Parenting is not a sacrifice; it's a new way of living.

Those who don't adjust to that notion become bitter and miserable,

longing for something that they made a conscious decision to change.

Most of us fare rather well. We love our kids and will do anything

to see them succeed.

But a little more privacy now and then would be nice.

* STEVE SMITH is a Costa Mesa resident and a freelance writer.

Readers may leave a message for him on the Daily Pilot hotline at

(949) 642-6086.

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