With the American way of life visibly crumbling, I get a lot of people asking me some form of the question, “But what can I do to save America?”
I’ve given various answers to those who ask this, but a new pat answer popped into my mind the other day: Be like Amber de la Motte.
If you just gave me a perplexed stare and uttered, “Who?” don’t worry. I only came across Amber de la Motte a few weeks ago myself. She and her husband and their 10 kids living in New York City are a fun follow on Instagram.
Yes, you read that right. Ten kids. Living in NYC. Playing classical music and attending the famed Juilliard School of music.
If you think this sounds crazy, then welcome to the club of commenters on a recent New York Magazine article featuring the family. The derogatory attitude was thick with comments regarding overpopulation, bad parenting, and the family’s conservative Christian ideology.
Despite the undertone of disbelief that seems to run through it, the article itself is a little more kind. It notes the good behavior of the children, comparing the quietness of the clan during the interview to the author’s own noisy brood. It shares the family’s struggle to find a place where all 10 children and their musical instruments are accepted, even noting their efforts to practice in a parking garage when they lived back in San Francisco so as not to annoy neighbors.
The article even praises the family for their academic brilliance, noting that “the kids are undoubtedly gifted and very bright,” a family of readers “and obvious critical thinkers, despite what some might uncharitably assume about homeschooling families affiliated with fundamentalist churches.”
Watching this family receive such flack (and perhaps even feeling like joining in on the criticisms yourself) you may be wondering why I suggest following in Amber de la Motte’s footsteps in order to save America. I’m not necessarily suggesting you give birth to or adopt 10 kids (although that would be perfectly acceptable!). What I’m suggesting is that you join her in embracing one of the few hopes we have left for the future: children.
While that likely sounds cliché, it’s a truth I’m growing more convinced of every day. You see, our culture gives lip service to children—in fact, we do everything “for the children”—but when it comes down to it, society’s attitude toward children is really to sideline them as the number one nuisance in life.
“Children are SO expensive,” we whine, blaming them as a roadblock to our materialistic dreams.
“I love children,” another may say, “but I need to get my Master’s degree and then get established in a good job before I have kids. Do you know what kids do to your career?!”
And then there are those who don’t have children at all, but do their best to make their disgust for the children of others apparent, growling at them in the grocery store, complaining about their noise, and moaning about the carbon gases the panting of playing children is emitting into the atmosphere.
In viewing children as such a nuisance, however, many of us miss out on learning the very traits we need in order to turn America around. These are traits the de la Mottes are learning firsthand, judging from the hints dropped in the New York Magazine article.
For starters, those who embrace children learn to appreciate family. As the most basic building block of society, family teaches us to get along with others, showing love to the unlovely and sacrificing so that others can succeed. Those who embrace children and family have an automatic leg up in interpersonal skills and conflict management, traits which should go a long way at diffusing the angry and easily offended citizenry in today’s society.
Because children are expensive, those who embrace them are prone to also learning frugality. Out of necessity those in a big family learn to pinch pennies, make the budget stretch, and value even small pleasures. If more individuals in our debt-laden, materialistic-obsessed society would learn to value money, spending and saving carefully, those attitudes might have a trickle-down effect on our bloated government.
Hard work goes hand in hand with frugality, a fact the de la Motte kids understand well. To some it may seem like cruel parenting to have children work for their musical instruments and lessons by busking (playing music in the park or on the street corner), but you can bet those kids won’t be afraid to get their hands dirty working or be creative to make a living! If more of our population had such a strong work ethic, it seems unlikely that we’d be facing labor shortages or a workforce that seems to believe they are entitled to higher pay and bigger benefits.
Finally, the de la Mottes seem to have a great ability to see the funny side of life, even in the remembrance of difficult circumstances. Such humor enables individuals not only to survive the sometimes-annoying nature of childish antics, but also enables people to take themselves less seriously, brush off offenses, and find encouragement and happiness to press on in hard times. Given the difficult times America seems to have ahead, those with a sense of humor seem most likely to survive, bringing joy and hope to both themselves and others in the midst of darkness.
So if you want to save America, embrace children, not only in your own family, but also those around you in other families. Doing so has a way of not only teaching us humor, hard work, frugality, and relational skills, but it also promises to change our mindsets, instilling in us a desire to make the future bright, if only for the love of those little ones who currently brighten our lives.
Image credit: Pexels-Jordan Bergendahl