How to Raise an American

At age six, when a rock is thrown through the neighbor's window for "I-don't-know" reason, introduce pain as a basis for reality. Punish the child to learn responsibility for action. I don't mean take away TV "privileges" or a pussy "timeout" in the corner—put your hand on the offender's butt. 

At age 12, get the child a paper route. It will teach him that others depend on him. The papers will inevitably be late on occasion, reinforcing the fact that others depend on timely delivery, which was promised on taking the job. At age 15, buy him an old car that needs to be rebuilt. A 1940 Ford Coupe de Luxe is good for this. A child can learn a lot from a '40 Ford. It will teach appreciation for that and those that have gone before. It will teach respect. 

Encourage the child's friends to come help. It will keep them off the streets and give them a goal that is attainable. It will cause friendships that will last a lifetime. It will reinforce the reality that pain is the result of irresponsible action: knuckle busting. 

It will teach preparation: "Damn! The thermostat is leaking, we're over- heating, I should've scraped the old gasket out instead of hurrying." 

It will reinforce the reality of preparation and dedication: "I did it wrong. I have to fix it." 

Knuckle busting will reinforce the reality that actions have consequence:
"I made that brake line. It was bad—I could have crashed. Next time I will do it right."

It will reinforce the reality that doing it right the first time is easier than not listening. It will reinforce the reality of pain for taking the wrong tool to do the job. And it will last for two months—giving time to reflect on the bad choice of tools. 

It will reinforce the reality that you get what you earn. If it runs good, you will be dependable. Others do depend on you. 

It will reinforce the reality of attention to detail: "Hey, I wired this car. I pulled the switch and the lights came on. I did that." It will reinforce the reality that if caught speeding there are responsibilities to meet. 

Take two-and-a-half years to teach all needed to build so that when the child reaches 18 the car can be driven. Teach the child—while not driving until 18 years old—to learn from the mistakes in judgment of his peers that have DUIs and speeding tickets. It will teach thinking about the long run. It will reinforce the reality that bragging ain't cool. 

Teach a kid to build a hot rod.
There is nothing bad about it
It's a good way to raise an American. 

Yep, my '40 Ford is a role model.

Semper Fly, Cal. 
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The author:
Cal Tobin, Jr.
SSgt.  USMC
1972–1992

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