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SAMUEL PROCTOR ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM at
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C: Hi. First, I would like to introduce our panelists. Most of these people
are familiar to you, if you have been at any of these sessions or have
been a long time resident of the area. First, Cleather Hathcock, Jack
Bryan, Joyce Horsley, Altamese Walker, Dr. Liz Parker, and Bill Watson. I
just want to emphasize a couple of important issues. Like Dr. Burns said,
this forum is particularly of value to us all because we have often heard,
the last twenty or thirty years, that the family unit has been eroded. We
have seen a real breakdown in communication between parent and child, and
child and parent. I think we want to address some of those issues tonight
and find out, first of all, whether that kind of statement is really true,
and if it is true what kind of suggestions do we have to bring that back
into perspective, or back to the way it should be. So, what we are going
to try and do is have each one of these panelists, who are specialists in
their own areas, talk about their areas of interest and hopefully
stimulate some dialogue between the audience and them.
Also, I have got one unpaid political announcement here. Parenting is
very appropriate to this particular topic. Please pick up one of these
flyers here. There are an awful lot of children, young adults, in Alachua
County that need help and guidance. If their own parents are unable to do
the job, if you want to volunteer your time and energy, it would be
appreciated by those individual children.
H: I want to talk about recreation and the family. I believe research will
bear me out when it says in the years to come we are going to be working
fewer hours, and we are going to have more time for leisure. If that is
true, then we are going to have to first go to the-school and think about
more things the school can do to teach us how to relax and enjoy our extra
free time. For a long time now we have been teaching various kinds of
activities in the school, recreational activities. We do a lot, as you
know: football, basketball, these kinds of things, but many of those
things are not the kinds of things that are going to carry over after we
I think then it is going to become a greater responsibility on our schools
to do more for us in terms of teaching kinds of recreational activities
that we can take home with us and we can use with the family. I think we
should first think of that in terms of what we can do outside of the home.
One of the things that has happened to us in the recent years is the
development of the various computer games that everyone is wild about now.
We can play many of these games in the home. We all have television now.
The family can do them together. That is one way of keeping the family
home, and everybody has to relax and enjoy something. Other than those,
there are various kinds of card games that can be bought, or bingo, or
some of the children play "old maid" and things of this sort. There are
various kinds of games now that we can get out of stores that we can do
together that do not cost a lot of money. Then we are going to have to do
these things that will cost a little money but at the same time are things
that we can all enjoy. I believe more and more as we pay taxes we
are going to have to involve some of the money in some of the things for
recreation. I am not saying that our city is not doing some things today,
but I think as we look into the future, we are going to have to do many
more. I think we are going to need a full-time recreational staff so that
they can plan things that the family can do. If we have a lot of people
working a few hours and doing nothing, it is going to behoove not only the
schools, but out city, our churches and everything else, to plan
activities for our young people. We should build things like a swimming
pool. We know that costs money, but swimming is something that we could
teach children to do, that adults can do, and everybody could use it. We
could see about opening up the schools more with some supervised
activities so that we could play games within the schools, in our gyms
especially, or play ping pong or various table games that we could do in
the gym in the afternoons when they are supervised. And I think we are
working closely with our schools to get them open so that the families
can come out and they can get involved in these kinds of things. We have
even set up our gyms and we have played volleyball. There are tons of
games that we can play in our gym that can keep our families together, but
I think it is going to be a duty of our city in years to come to get
involved in a staff that can plan activities so that everybody can enjoy
them, not just the young people but the old as well.
C: I was privileged to serve on the recreation board when I first moved to
Alachua two years ago, and thanks in no small part to the work of Mayor-
Commissioner Holland, we now have in the city a full-time recreation
director who has done an outstanding job. With the support of the city
commission, the mayor, and a vast number of volunteers, they put together
a basketball program, a football program, somewhat of a baseball program
interfaced with the Santa Fe Little League, and some basic gymnastics
Like we were talking about among the panel at dinner this evening, there
is a lot more that still can be done and has to be done if we are going to
have a truly effective, wide-ranging recreation program. Two years ago I
did a study when I was working for the Alachua County Schools. We did a
needs assessment which impacted on recreation, leisure activities and a
wide range of things, even touching on the library in the city. When we
did the survey we contacted as many people as we possibly could. I think
we came up with thirty families we surveyed. Like Mr. Hathcock said, it
is very important that we involve all segments of the community. That
means the children from as young an age as six or eight months in a water
baby swim program at one of the local swimming pools, up through and
including senior citizen activities. I do not mean senior citizen
activities where we just sit around and talk and play cards, but where we
get physical and do some programming in the areas of middle-aged people
like myself who are beyond competing with the twenty and thirty-year-olds,
but are still interested in trying to keep some semblance of physical
We also need to get involved in family living activities such as cultural
activities, arts and crafts types of things, music, community players, and
drama. All that kind of stuff is really important, and as we move down
toward the twenty-first century, we will be really close to seeing that
in actuality. I think we here in the city can, at least for the past two
years, thank the present city administration and mayor-commissioner for
supporting us in that effort. However, what we really need more than
anything else is to hear what you in the community need and what kinds of
activities you would like to see, if you have some interests in
recreation, or maybe a better word is "leisure time activities." We
really need to look at that concept, because it is very important for our
physical health as well as our mental health.
AB: Let us invite somebody from the audience to comment on that.
AM: Is there any way you could tap other resources? The university theatrical
department must have some people who would want to work on something, like
a little theater perhaps.
AB: There is a group of people interested in forming a little theater group,
and in other towns I have been in, that is always a very vibrant part of
the community, and it gives people a chance to express themselves. It
would be a good source of entertainment for all.
TC: It surely would.
AB: I think it is a great idea.
TC: It would be a good way to get people participating, too.
W: I was thinking of a civic center where people could put on plays like you
are talking about. Most of the plays I have been in have been performed
without a stage. I think that the city really needs a cultural center.
We are really thirsty for that type of thing.
TC: Definitely. As an interim thing, of course, the schools are a possibility
as a site and some of the local churches. But long range, down the road,
we will have to have a community center of some type. If I hear the
dialogue coming out of all these forums, there really is a definite need
for some type of a civic center.
EH: I really was not listening, but Ms. Cauthen clued me that you were talking
about the purchase of Rolling Green. There are some of us on the
commission who are extremely interested in purchasing Rolling Green for
the City of Alachua, either for that or for our library. Tallahassee has
unlimited sources of funding for various things, one of them being a
library if we had matching funds, so it was my hope that we would buy
Rolling Green for the library and then let them just lease out all the
other areas that residents could use. You know, it is quite a distance
from here to Gainesville for those of us that like to roller skate. If we
had a public place to skate, it would be easier for us to get around. We
would love to have a place right here at home.
AB: Now we do realize one of the issues, in terms of family recreation, as Mr.
Hathcock said, is that we can sit around and play video games together.
At least the family is all there, and you know where the kids are. But in
these other activities, there seems a real need to have some sort of day
care facility, some place where the children could be under control, and
the adults could do some of their things of interest as well.
S: One of the things that we had talked to people around town about is that
too often recreation has been thought of only in relation to sports.
Sports are an important part of recreation, of course, but there are lots
of other ways to recreate. Another important thing to realize is that we
traditionally thought of recreation as it relates to young people and to
their families. The fact is, as a culture we will be much older, and we
are going to continue to get much older and retire much younger. So the
bulk of our recreational time is going to be at a time after work when
perhaps some of the things we think of as sporting events are not as
accessible to us.
I think it is really important that the community, and really families in
this county, too, do not confuse the function of recreation solely with
the function of sporting events, or if you will, play. Play is an
important part. There are lots of different ways to play, in groups,
collectively, or individually. By the way, this is a plug. If you are
interested in the theater group, we are seriously wanting to put together
a little theater group here in town. I have been told by some people who
have been in this community a long, long time that years and years ago,
schools in the community and some traveling players, etc., used to get
together and put on productions, and they were very successful. A lot of
people whose names I heard had hidden talents that they used to reveal
once a year or so. We are really interested if people want to get a hold
AB: Is there anyone in the audience who recalls those days when there were
theater productions put on who could enlighten us?
S: Schools used to do them, and they would combine people from the outside
and people from the inside, and even some people from out of town would
get together, and they would put on plays. The last play, and this is
just a little trivia, apparently was, "Our Hearts Were Young and Gay," for
those of you who are interested.
F: I do not recall the community, as such, putting on any activities. But I
do recall, when I was a student at old ACT, there were plays put on for
children. It started around in April, and there would be plays put on
from April up until the time school closed in June. Those were activities
among the children, which I thought was very good. I would like to say
this: I am quite enthused over the fact that you are talking about
recreation for Alachua. This is one of the things I think is most needed
here. We now have a recreational director, and we have organized
baseball, football, softball and this type of thing. I do go along
with the fact that you have something for the older people, but again, I
do not know of any activity that was carried out back during the days when
I was at ACT. It has been some time, but I think it is very important to
have activities for this community so that all ages can participate.
C: Here is one thing I would like all of you to do. We want to move on to
our next panelist, but we do have a very active City of Alachua Recreation
Board, and if you want to pursue this line of discussion or ask questions,
or even participate with the board, please get a hold of one of the board
members and attend some of their meetings. If you come to them with
programming needs, especially leisure programming needs other than just
the strictly physical recreation things, I know they will listen.
B: What about handicapped programs?
C: Again, all facets of leisure time activities, mentally and physically
handicapped programming can take place. As I say, we are really kind of
pinched for time, but I used to be the Community Education Director of
Michigan for about eight years, and we ran a Special Olympics program
year-round, which included mentally and physically handicapped kids and
adults. There is no reason why you cannot have something like that as a
part of our overall leisure activities program.
B: I would like to speak on the question of why the Alachua community is a
good place to raise a family. For one thing, I think it is and has been
for years, a family-oriented community. We can look back in our community
and see families that have raised their children here, and I think there
is strength in this, in the fact that these families have stayed in one
place. Maybe their business has been passed down from generation to
generation. Many large farms in this area have been divided among family
members, and you have some of those same family members still farming and
carrying on a profitable business in this area. I think there is strength
and stability in that many family members. I think they know all along
what they are going to do.
Young people, as they grow up in a family sometimes, we hope, are guided
by their family into making decisions about their professions or about
their future life. And they have many times been influenced by the fact
that they have been trained in a particular field, either in farming or in
some type of business, by their family, put into a hardware store or
followed their father-in-law or somebody in a meat market. We have seen
that it has been going on for years and years in this community. I think
that the family life in this community had been very supportive of its
young people. I think back to the time of World War II, when so many of
the young men were called to service, and you could look around this town,
and there was hardly a family here that did not have a daughter or a
daughter-in-law living at home because her husband was in the service.
The family took their daughter or daughter-in-law in, took care of her and
her children and looked after them and their needs while the men were in
the service. This town was full of young women who were not out, because
maybe they did not have the opportunity to get out and make a living. Many
of the young women did work in defense work, but other than Camp Blanding,
there was not that much around here for them to participate in. The
families took care of those people, and I think this has been a typical
thing that Alachua has done.
They have always looked after their family members, and I think this goes
back to the strength of family relationships that we have here. They look
after their own, in that when the older members of a family were left,
maybe one grandparent was left, those older people usually were taken care
of. They were taken into the home of one of their daughters or sons, and
they lived in that home. It was a family unit. The grandchildren got to
know those grandparents. They had the experience of listening to and
learning the history of the community and the close relationship of their
family. They got to know the family members, because they had the family
visiting in that home to see those older people. There were just many
ways that the family unit stayed together, and we find strength in
families, as well as direction and stability.
Mc: Do you find that the extended family system is still working now in
B: To some extent and in some areas, but I do not think it is as much as it
did in the past.
Mc: Do you find that there are a lot more single parent families and fathers
not living at home?
B: Yes, I think so. For one thing, so many more women are working today.
Back then, the women were home to take care of the children. They were
home to take care of the grandparents, but today so many of the mothers,
the women of the household, are employed themselves. They are not there.
AB: If the grandparents were there, the mother could go out and work or do
things, and the children would still be watched over. I think that has
made a difference. Could you please comment, Ms. Bryan, about some of the
things that families did together? One thing I have always been
interested in is family reunions. Maybe you could describe a perfect
famliy reunion that you had in your family, where it was held, who came
and how it was planned.
B: Well, we have been looking forward to attending a famliy reunion. It is
an out-of-state family reunion in the near future. And even though there
are not many of the older members of this family left, their children and
grandchildren still enjoy getting together, and many times this is the
only time you can get together. Many families in this area use some of
the buildings in this community. There have been many held down at the
Lions Club, using that building and the park there. We used to have a
family reunion there once a year. Some of the families still do. They
just rent that and use the facilities there and get all the family members
to come in, bringing a covered dish dinner, and have a day together.
AB: Now, who would organize something like that?
B: Well, usually some member of the family that is interested, and you
usually just set a date, and a family usually says: Well, my family
reunion is on the first Sunday in October, or it is the third Sunday in
October, or it is the first Sunday in September. They just usually set a
date. Of course, since people have gotten into genealogies so much now,
we see notices quite often in the papers saying: Anyone that belongs to
the Jones family, the Jones Reunion will be held at Manatee Springs, or
someplace where there are places of recreation like springs or lakes.
Kingsley Lake is the big place. Goldhead State Park has been a big area
for family reunions.
AB: Where is Kingsley Lake?
JB: It is out from Starke.
AB: How about somebody in the audience? Are there any unique family reunions,
maybe some that have special food? Does anybody roast a whole suckling
pig or anything at their family reunions who would like to comment on
AM: I go to family reunions in Tennessee, and we went to Chatanooga, and we
stayed in a Moose Lodge. We had more fun. It was filled up this year
though, and we could not go to it, so we put in our reservation for next
JB: I do know of one other family that was in this area at one time. There
were twelve children, and even though the mother and father are dead,
those twelve children and their children try to get together. And they
make it a whole weekend, they rent some lodge or some facility somewhere
in an area. They are scattered from Texas to Washington, DC, so they pick
out one location each year. They go to a different area, and those people
spend all weekend, three days, having a family reunion. That family at
one time lived here.
F: In the last three or four years, I do know that there has been any number
of families who have had family reunions here in Alachua and were able to
draw relatives from as far away as California and New York and places of
that sort. So I think the family reunion has caused a lot of relatives to
come together who had not been together in some years. This is something
that is happening in Alachua, and I think that is really something.
AB: Do you think family reunions are going down? Are people no longer going
F: I think they are going up.
JB: They are going up.
MS: I just wanted to say that speaking of family reunions, I had one just
recently and all of my sisters and brothers were at this gathering at the
church from Colorado, Tallahassee, and Vero Beach. In fact, all of us
were here, and it is not anything that we have not done. We have always
gotten together. Of course, we did not have a chance to meet at the club
house, but we met at home. When my parents were living we always met on
Mother's Day, Father's Day, Easter, Christmas and Thanksgiving. Of
course, now that we are far away, we have these big family reunions, and I
am speaking of our immediate family. The year before last, we went to
South Carolina, and they are meeting all over the states. But I do not
attend all of them, just around half of them. I think that happened to a
lot of people here in Alachua. I just want to let you know that even
though we probably did not have a special place to meet, we did have
family reunions. We still have family reunions in Alachua.
DW: I believe the family reunions in some areas are stronger than others. I
know I have pastored churches in South Carolina for a while, and up there
all you had to say was, "Re-."
AB: I think at our first forum several people did mention that South Carolina
was an area where a lot of people came from that ended up in Alachua here.
And perhaps some of that strength has carried over. At family reunions I
hear all the crazy things about my relatives that I never knew when I was
a child. Would anybody like to recount one of those stories?
C: I know being from Wisconsin and being the only family unit down here in
Florida, it is amazing how many people will call you family in the middle
of winter, in February when they come. It is a family reunion for two
months straight every weekend, people we have not seen in fifteen years.
JH: In October it will be one year since my husband, my son and I moved to
Alachua, although I am not new to Florida. I was born in Clearwater,
Florida, and left there when I was ten years old and lived most of my life
in Pennsylvania. Then we moved to Ft. Lauderdale and stayed there one
year, and then to Alachua. I wanted to tell you what I think of Alachua.
Well, I love Alachua! I really do! Like Loretta Lynn says, "When you're
looking at me, you're looking at country." Alachuans are beautiful,
friendly people. When I lived in Ft. Lauderdale, we lived there one year,
and one of the reasons we left is because I was very unhappy there.
Nobody knew anybody. You went into a store and they did not care who you
were or if you ever came back again, and I was not used to that.
I lived most of my life in small towns, and I am on a walking program. I
walk the streets of Alachua every morning, and I am out from 7:15 until
8:15. I walk an hour, and up to four miles now, and the people in
this town really care about me and my walking. They will say "hi," and
the teenagers say, "Way to go, Mom!" They are out there cheering me. A
man stopped me the other day and he said, "May I ask you a question?" I
said, "Sure," and he said, "I see you every morning, and I say to myself,
'If you are walking to work, honey, you are going the long, long way
around."' He said, "Then I say to myself, 'Are you walking for your
health?"' and I said, "Yes, I am." He said, "Good for you!" People look
at me and they smile, and they encourage me on. Well, believe me, in Ft.
Lauderdale I would not budge past my neighborhood. I would be afraid.
The only thing I am afraid of in your town when I walk is your dogs. I
counted twelve today. I surely wish that you would enforce your leash
law. My husband said I look like somebody prepared for the war. I have
my radio here on my belt. I have my suit, and over here I have got my
"Halt" for the dog. I do not know if I would ever be brave enough to push
the trigger, but I have got it there. But anyway, it is really nice to
walk in a store and have people really care about you and know you. That
is such a good feeling to know that we are friendly like that. That if I
would not exist anymore people would say, "Hey, where is that lady that
walks around?" It is nice, and in a city you do not have that.
Another thing I would like to talk about is child abuse. Yes, it is
really close to my heart, because I have just finished my twenty hours of
training in child abuse prevention. The reason I want to talk about it
is that those people that are child abusers are not people that we need to
be afraid of and say, "I do not want any part of them, because they beat
their kids." Well, do you know what? They are people just like you and
me. You see, they are child abusers because they were beaten as children.
That is the role they have seen, and so they behave in that manner. They
need somebody else to be a role model for them, and that was why it
touched my heart, because I want to help those people.
When they come to the Parent Aide program, they ask for help. It is not
because they were picked, and they were going to be thrown in jail unless
they were in this program or their kids would be taken away. These people
know that they are that way, and they are saying to you, "Help me. Help
me, because I do not want to be like this." The way Parent Aide works is,
I am their friend. That is all I have to be is their friend. These
people do not even have a friend. They have never had friends. They do
not like themselves. They do not like what they are, they do not like who
they are, and the only thing that they have ever had in their lives is
that child. They sincerely love those kids.
You say to yourself, how can they beat those kids and hurt them? By the
way, the murdering is a very, very small portion of child abuse. Those
are the only things that hit the headlines because that is news. But that
is not it. They get overzealous. You see, they want that child to be
perfect. Do you know why they want that child to be perfect? Because
they are not, and they want that child to be better than they are. So you
go in and you are their friend, for one year. You are there when they
need you, and you listen to them, and you let them know that you love
them. You see, they do not know what it is like to be loved because most
of them are beaten by their husbands. They do not know any other life.
But when they realize that you love them, even though they are bad
sometimes and they do things that they do not like, do you know what
starts happening? They start changing. They find out that when somebody
loves them, and somebody cares about them, less and less will they beat
their children, and they become a productive person to Alachua.
There are women out there that are on a list that have asked for help from
this town of Alachua and there are not any volunteers. I was the only one
this time that came from the town of Alachua to help these people. They
really and sincerely want to change, and they need your help. When a
child is beaten by his mother, our first reaction is to say, "Poor little
child. Is it not a shame that child is beaten and bruised?" But remember
this, when that child gets older, he becomes a juvenile delinquent. You
do not feel sorry for him then, because he is different then. So we are
going to have to start right now to help these kids. You can help, and it
does not take much of your time. All you have to be is a friend, and you
are not getting with somebody who is going to beat you around. These
people are asking for help. I just wanted to put that in. I do have some
Also, for some of you parents who find out, "Boy it is hard to be a
parent," they are starting a new group right here in Alachua. All they
have to do now is find a place to meet. It is called Parent-to-Parent.
It says that many people find the role of parent more and more difficult
as stressful conditions within the family increase: illness, babies, and
in-laws. Parent-to-parent is where a group of people get together that
are parents, and you sit and talk with a counselor. So it is something
new that is going to be coming to Alachua, and I have some brochures on
that. I also have a list of different resources, so if you have any
family problems, alcohol or whatever, I have got a list of all the
different places that are available in Alachua County.
G: I am so glad to know you are here. This is the third year I have been in
Alachua with the nursing school. Right now we have five potential child
abusers, some who have court-appointed guardians, and we really had no one
on a volunteer basis to turn to. Child and parent aides have been
appointed by the court through HRS in Gainesville. I think just having
somebody who is from this community will help. Most of our families do
not like volunteers that are assigned to the child abuse cases. We have
only one white family really, but we have many families from both races who
could use the kind of help that you are talking about. I would really
like to see some volunteers like you in the black community.
JH: I want to tell you, sometimes you think, "Gee there are not very many."
Well, I want to tell you that last year there were 1,500 reported child
abuse cases in Alachua County; 86,000 in the state of Florida; 6,000 of
those were two-year-olds. And there are men, men can work in the program,
too. They really need your help. It is good work. It will make you feel
good that you are a part of it.
AB: There are changes in families. Maybe in the old days there was enough of
an extended family that people could go to aunts and uncles for help.
Nowadays, that is often not the case. I think, as Ms. Horsley said, a lot
of these people are very isolated and do not have friends. They do not
have people to turn to. As the grandparents, aunts, and uncles are
farther away from the children, it becomes harder for parents who are
having trouble to turn to other people.
EH: The city of Alachua has offered social services such as Parent Aide, and
the use of city hall for meetings. Hopefully, we will have our own
community building in the near future. The Community Relations Board of
Alachua at the present time is looking at sites, and they will need a lot
of help to push this through the commission. Parent Aide is one of the
primary movers in this project.
AB: Does anyone else have a comment? Who would like to speak today?
JB: I am Julie Burns, and I am the Alachua County coordinator for the Child
Abuse Prevention Project. One of the things we are going to be doing is
working with loan agencies in Alachua County is to provide materials that
you could use at schools or church programs. They have a lot of films and
a lot of literature available, so if anyone would like more information
about child abuse, or programs to use with children, we have a lot of
available information, and we would be happy to help you.
C: I think it might be worthwhile for you to make a contact through all the
churches and explain the availability of the programming activity.
Because, quite frankly, I have found that the churches are the best
vehicle for communications in this town because of the large number of
churches and the almost total participation in one church or another.
JH: In order to keep Alachua beautiful always, I thought about this poem that
my daughter wrote when she was a teenager, and I hope you will really
listen to the words so that you will want to be a part of always keeping
Listen to all the people say,
this world gets worse with every day.
Young people popping pills for game.
A game which really has no aim.
A game that gets them off the ground,
and makes their head go spinning round.
And what about when others take,
What others struggle hard to make?
They will gun you up against the wall
and take your belongings one and all.
And what about the loss of life?
A life that was taken because of strife.
People kill because of hate,
A friend, a lover, or even their mate.
I shall go through every day
And show the wrong how to obey.
I'll be a bright and shining light
A guide to show the way that's right.
You asked me why? Well, I believe
A better world begins with me.
It begins with you too. Thank you.
AW: I want to discuss family life and the single parent with you. That is not
on the agenda, but that is what I can talk about most. Because I am a
single parent. Not in the sense that I was never married, but I became a
widow at a very early age. I was left with six children to raise by
myself. I grew up here and went to the public schools here in Alachua.
Most often, the family unit at that time consisted of two parents because
divorce was something that just did not happen that often in those days.
If a parent was single it was usually because of death.
But I visited many homes in Alachua County, friends of mine, and most
often the mother and the father were there. In those days, parents looked
out for other children. If children came into the home to visit, the
parents assumed responsibility for the child while the child was there.
If the child misbehaved, the family chastised that child, and the family
would tell the parent of that child. And the child would be chastized
again once he returned home. I have raised my children here in Alachua
County in the rural area called Monteocha. I have received the same kind
of treatment because I had to go to work, and the community helped me to
raise my children. I feel that I had an advantage over some single
parents who probably lived in the city of New York or even the City of
Because in our area, there was just not that much trouble to get into. If
the children even tried to stray or get into trouble, there was always
somebody over there to let you know what was happening with your child
while you were at work. Many times I have had people call me on my job at
the university to tell me, "I see Steven riding on the bicycle on the road
and I know you do not allow that." I really appreciate that. Now what I
am saying is that it is not easy to raise children alone, but if you are
in a community such as this, and such as the community where I live, it
makes it much easier. Everybody helps you whenever you need it, in
whatever way they can. I am thankful about that.
C: What kind of advice would you give to a single parent thrust into the same
situation that you were thrust into?
AW: I can only tell you some of the things that I did. My children and I have
a very good relationship. But one thing I have always told them is that I
will not tolerate lying or dishonesty. I am just not going to put up with
that. You must always remember these are your sisters and your brothers,
no matter what. We are a family. If you get in trouble, I do not
approve, but I love you right on. I am not going to kill you. I might
not uphold you in it, but no matter what you do, I want you always to be
able to come and talk to me about it.
C: Were there any special people in your life that you found gave
extraordinary help, and support to you?
AW: Yes. Among them are Mrs. Ruth Strawder and her husband who live in my
community. Because when my husband died, I had a very young baby, and she
took very good care of my children. I just could not have asked for
anybody who could have done any better.
They had two wardrobes. In the wintertime I would take their clothes
there, and she would just wash them and she would take care of them. When
I came to pick them up, they were always changed, clean, and fed. The
only thing I would take to her house the next morning were the clothes
they had on and their food. When the season changed, I picked up the
winter things and I took the summer clothes. She was very good. She and
my in-laws were the most help. They were very good.
C: Any comments?
S: One of the interesting points she brought up was the idea that it used to
be if you got in trouble at school, you got in trouble when you got home.
In a smaller town, word usually beat you home. It is interesting, I can
remember this kid I knew that lived in my house who would get in trouble
at church. It was just a given thing. If your father was a deacon or in
the choir or whatever, the most available person would take you out. It
is interesting how that has changed.
As a lawyer, I can tell you that I have had numerous cases where people
have called up to sue or to see if they can sue over a kid being reported
by some other parent and from parents who want to know what they can do
about a teacher who has maligned their child at school.
AB: You are talking about here in Alachua?
S: Yes. Well, I will say Alachua County. My practice is both in Gainesville
and here. It is very interesting that a concept of a community control of
children has eroded so significantly from what it once was. It was a
really important way to take care of kids. I can remember my parents
grabbing other kids, the same as with me. That is really gone just the
opposite way now, and that is a significant change.
AW: It is very unfortunate.
AB: Now has it really gone the opposite way? Can we hear first from some
people with children? Do you see this as a problem? Does anybody want to
admit to having young children?
W: Ms. Walker is a very unique person in a very unique situation. You just
do not discipline children like that now if you are not their parent.
Sometimes if you discipline them, the parents will get on you. Now just
yesterday on the road in front of my house there were a couple of kids
fighting. I went out to them and I said, "Why don't you just stop this
and go on home to your parents?" The girl turned around and told me, "I
am not going to do anything. My parents are at the office, and there is
no way I am going to get it." I just turned around and went back in the
house, because I did not know what those kids would do, talking like that.
What I am saying is that you cannot discipline kids now like you used to.
When I was going to school, my mother told me that if I was bad the
teacher would whip me, and when I got home my mother would put me in worse
pain. So I did not dream of being bad when I was a kid. You do not have
that today, and I am kind of afraid of what is going to happen with kids
today. Because, for example, those kids I saw just keep right on fighting.
SS: What Ms. Walker is saying I have found to be true from my own experience.
And I wonder for most of us if it is our lack of community and our
communicaiton between families that has caused experiences that we had in
our family where my son did various little antics that we wanted to solve.
I called the parents of the other children who were involved, and
suggested that we get together with the kids and talk about it, and nobody
ever wanted to get together and talk about it. They resolved it at their
house and we resolved it at ours. I felt that a fuller understanding of
the situation would come about if we talked about it together. But that
AB: Mr. Watson, you wanted to address something.
BW: I can only agree with what Ms. Welch said. It is very difficult now to
discipline someone else's child, not so much for fear of what the child
might do, but for fear of what the parent might do. You have heard in
many cases parents saying, "This is my child and no one tells this child
what to do but me." Yet still, when you are working in Gainesville or
another area of the community, the community takes responsibility to keep
your child alive while you are away. When you report some mischievous
activity, the parents normally would not accept it. So I feel that most
people would not accept the responsibility of disciplining another child
unless it was a relative's child. In some cases, you have to be
particular even then.
AM: I would like to commend the woman who said that she wanted to make her
kids feel like they always would have someone to talk to. I think that is
really where it starts. If you do not have that open, communicative
relationship with your parents, it is going to be very hard to work with
other families, as far as getting together like you people have been
saying. But if family members communicate and solve their problems, if
the families can work it out first, then maybe it is up to the parents to
deal with each other, to try and communicate how they came up with their
decisions separately, and then maybe work on that relationship together.
C: Let's lead into Dr. Parker's phase of the program because she will address
some of these very issues we are talking about. Dr. Parker.
P: That is right. Just what you are saying is what I had planned tonight for
my topic. So I was really listening in reference to how the family has
changed, what things you see that are different, yesterday versus today.
And also, the kinds of things you value as a family and how you influence
your children. So what you are saying is just what I had planned to lead
into and this is good. I think about my own childhood and one thing my
father taught me is that I must always tell the truth. One thing my
grandmother taught me is that you always respect and obey older people, do
as they said. I honor, respect, stand back, let you in first, and never
question if you are older. When you think about growing up, there are
just so many things. I often hear people say that, "I just would be a
teenager again for anything." I have said it myself, because I am not
sure. I am just not sure of what the children are going through today. I
was listening to Joyce talk about child abuse and neglect. We have that
at school too. We are expected to be responsible to report any case of
child abuse here in the school system, to the point that counselors have
been trained to work with teachers to let them know what kinds of signs to
look for. I can say, in ninety percent of the cases that I have had as
child abuse and reporting it, that child would never go against his mother
or father. They never will go against the parent in your eyesight. That
is very interesting for children. I want to ask you, what are some things
you value? What are your values to your children or our parents' values
to you? What are some of the things that stand out immediately in your
mind when you think of your family? Whether it is past or present. What
is it that you are trying to get over to your children or what go over to
you from your parents? One word can describe something. Anybody?
P: Respect for each other.
JH: My parents always made me feel special. I always tried to make my
children feel that they were special and that when they did a bad thing,
it was the bad thing that I disliked, but I always loved them. They were
always special to me.
P: When you say responsibility, I listen very closely, because here at
school, oftentimes we find it to be a problem with children being
responsible for the simplest things: getting your books, completing your
homework. But I feel that responsibility begins at home, and I think it
takes all those years from the time you have had that child with you until
they get to us. It should be that way. You start creating it. I just do
not think responsibility starts later on in life. I think you are setting
yourself up for whatever you plan to get back.
You have many adults who still sort of feed on their parents and are
really gaining from them, just waiting. That is not quite fair, but what
are we doing during the times they are so little and so tender to create a
sense of responsibility in them? Responsibility hurts no one. I have some
parents say that they do not want their kids to do the dishes because they
had to wash dishes every day themselves. They do not not want their kids
to do this because they had to do it. Therefore, the child does nothing,
and oftentimes in school, the child does nothing. So here at school, when
we run into situations like this, there is a place the children can go for
help. Oftentimes, teachers hold conferences with their children. I saw
one of the questions on the sheet here was "What can people do when they
are in trouble?" Here in Alachua County there are places we can go.
There are mental health centers set up for families, marriages, counselors
in the schools. You have shelters for battered and abused wives. I do
not know about if they have any for husbands yet, but let's turn this
thing around just a little bit.
You know, we talk about parents abusing children. There are some children
who are very abusive toward their parents, both verbally and physically.
The thing that bothers me is, what has happened to a parent who feels he
or she has no control over his home life? They have stepped back and let
it take over. What happens to people like our grandparents? Why do we
feel so inadequate and inferior to our own children? We have parents in
education programs. And these programs list four main goals of children'
One thing we do not get into with children is the struggle for power. Do
not even allow yourself to start fussing with a child. You have put
yourself on a different level right there. You should state what it is,
be quick about it, and that is it. Now, if the child wants to discuss it,
that is fine, but not as a means to break you down and make you weak. I
feel like this: once you have made a decision, be consistent and stick by
it, even if you are wrong. Oftentimes, I will say something and I will
think, "Gollee, how could I do that?" But I will still stick by it, and I
can go to my son and say, I was a little tough last week, punishing you
that way by letting you stay in your room those extra days, but do not
push me to the point where I have to behave like that. There is nothing
wrong with communicating.
A poll was taken with teenagers and they equated limitations with love.
They felt when parents let them do anything that they wanted, to drive the
car as fast as you want, after all, they are paying for the gas, why not
drive it all out? What would happen if you turned it around and the child
pays for his own gas and comes home a certain time? They felt that
parents who did not limit them in any kind of way really did not love
them. It was almost like a payoff. "Just get out of my way. Go, stay,
whatever." And oftentimes, parents equated a lot of material things with
love for that child. You find people who are extremely poor who have a
lot of love in their home because that is about all some of them have got.
Therefore, they focus on that kind of thing. Yes, sir?
DW: I think the supportive parents are the ones who find time in their
relationship to sit down with their kids. There are so many parents who
do not sit down. The children do not know what their mistakes are, and it
gets to the point where they can go and do anything, and the parent does
not stop them. But if a parent sits them down and sticks to it, then that
P: I feel that is what love is about. You have your limitations with your
children. You have to have them. We then, as adults, remain consistent.
Whatever you say, whatever you set up. If it is going to be 9:00, you
mean 9:00, not 9:15. Because when it is 9:15, something has happened to
you. I will worry about you. You have to do it this way. You have to be
involved with your children. You want your children to come to you to
talk about the good, bad, and ugly. I feel that is where my success is
with my boys especially. I feel that they can come to me and tell me the
good, the bad, and the ugly. I do not get any more excited about one
versus the other, therefore, I feel that I have a pretty honest set of
boys. Because I am not going to overreact because they made a "C" instead
of an "A". That is their responsibility if they want to make an "A". I
am not going to stay up all night long, letting them make an "A" for me
to feel good. So I am saying, oftentimes as parents, we put a lot of
responsibilities on ourselves that we should not have.
Finally, you want to teach your child in the way he should go. Don't you
want your children to be able to take care of themselves when they grow
up? We do not want to take care of them until they are thirty, forty, or
fifty years old. Let them take care of themselves, and basically, people
want to be independent and to grow up. I used to work in Hillsborough
County ,believe it or not. One of my students graduated from the
University of Florida here, and she said to me, "You remember when I was
in ninth grade you said "you are now becoming what you are going to be."
She said, "I am about there."
You just cannot do things suddenly in life. You have to start at the
beginning. We had a speaker last night, and he put it in very clear
terms. To get your child where you want him to be in June, you have got
to start in September. Do not come running up here in June asking what
you can do at this time. It is just like a marriage. A lot of people
plan for children now, instead of just doing something, and then wonder
how they are going to do it. I believe in making children a part of your
decision-making at home. There is nothing wrong with saying, "This is
what we bring in roughly a month. To pay the house note is this much.
Therefore, we have this much to spend between the family." Get children
involved financially, then they would understand that when they want a
certain thing, they might have to pay for it monthly. I believe also in
planning your little vacations or whatever you plan to do. Do you want to
go off this summer, or shall we stay home, or shall we add a room, or
whatever. Getting children involved helps them later on with their own
families, to keep them involved.
I felt tonight, coming in the door when you had your meal here, that it
was like a little family meeting. Family meetings do not cost anything at
home. Once a week we get together and just talk about things. The
children will get used to it, they will look forward to it, and you will
find out what you need to know about them. But they are not asked, they
are talked to.
AM: You are talking about family involvement, and I want to a make a comment
about what I have observed over the last four weeks or so, coming to the
meetings. I have learned that the majority of the people that come here
are parents, and I do not see very many children here to give their
comments on the accusations, the disappointments, the problems that have
been discussed that center around their disobedience, racial problems, the
educational system, the families, the churches, not having the children
disciplined enough. Is this meeting closed to children?
P: I am not aware of that.
AB: Ms. Cauthen?
SC: This is a concern for the people who organized this project. As a matter
of fact, I have called a guidance counsellor at the high school Monday,
Tuesday, and Wednesday of this week to say that unless you get some young
people interested in this project, and we have children who come to just
about every church in the town every week. I do think we would be well
off to have a nursery so that parents of small children could get here.
That is something that I would really like. But I really do not
understand why we do not have more young people coming. Last week we had
three, who were quite fascinated with what went on, but that has been the
exception. Nobody is trying to keep them away.
AB: I should say that when we planned this series of forums, we had a panopoly
of topics and issues, and one that was especially important that we put
in, I think a week from next Thursday, is "Between the Generations." What
we are going to try to do is to have a panel of young people and old
people. There are going to be young people both who get along with their
grandparents and who do not, so we can address some of those issues.
SC: As far as teenagers go, I think part of what we are seeing is that, like
last week, I think the ones who were here were really surprised to find
themselves enjoying themselves with a group of old folks. Also, the
principals of all the schools announce every one of these things every
week for us. I guess I am defending myself. I have made great efforts
and I do not understand why more of them do not come.
C: One question I would like to ask Dr. Parker is, what kind of things are we
doing here in the city of Alachua or the Alachua area, that are impacting
positively on your position within the schools, and are making your job
easier or less difficult? Also, what things can we as parents in this
community do to assist you in your role as the guidance director in this
school building here?
P: As parents, oftentimes you are aware of situations that your child might
be confronting. You might be aware that there is going to be a move, a
divorce, a death in the family, a new baby in the family, and your child
starts showing symptoms, or he may not. Just make children aware if there
is about to be a major change in the family. Because children oftentimes
are not sophisticated enough to come and say, "Look! I have something
worrying me." Not at this stage. They just do not do that. They more or
less would act out the kind of behavior that is in here. So, sometimes a
parent, with a simple phone call or writing a little note can help a lot.
Finally, accept your child as your child. He does not have to be like
somebody else. You should not put a strain on children to be anyone other
than themselves. Also, remember that you have created this child as he or
she is. If you need help yourself, go ahead and get help. Here at the
school level, I mentioned the educational classes that we have. We have
so many going on now, I do not teach that much, but I do at least once a
year. This is when parents get together in groups.
We use something called the STEP Program, and it is very good, but it is
very direct. It is teaching you as parents how to be assertive with your
children, and again, to be consistent, to learn how to set limitations.
It is obvious that the family is in trouble in this day and time. All
kinds of groups are being set up to save the family. I think the family
is going to survive but it is really being shattered by so many things
that are going on in society.
I think an indication of this is when a parent can no longer control his
or her own child. There are just so many things that I could say that I
will not take the time here, but working with 600 children, you see all
kinds of behavior. The child who will not let you touch him, never had
his mother's touch. I have a child I have been working with for two
years, and the rejection, the maternal deprivation is so deep. He accepts
no one's love, because he was abandoned, his mother walked out on him.
He knows that, and it was during the first five years. So here we are
trying to make some love for him, to help him come back around this way,
and it is very difficult. He does not believe that we could really love
him. After all, she did not. She left him. Where was she? Those are
the kind of things we get into, heartbreaking things, and you have to very
strong to survive it because you run into all kinds of situations. Of
course, we have ideal situations, too, whatever that means, but I do not
think any family is free of conflict. No husband and wife are free of
conflict. If you know each other and love each other, you are bound to
disagree from time to time. I pity the person who holds so much in and
know that they do not agree with this but they agree anyway to save peace.
Eventually, that person will just burst open, and fly away or run away or
crash windows, whatever. Some people have been taught that you just stay
humble and you say "yes," even when you mean "no." I believe in saying
"no" when you mean "no" and you can also say why you feel that way.
There is so much to that thing called "family," a whole lot to it, and all
of you in here represent families tonight. But you know sometimes it does
get a little painful, and it is not an easy job, and it is something that
we have to work on, and no family holds up by itself. No husband and wife
relationship holds up alone. You have got to polish it, shine it, keep it
going, and take a real interest in it. Well, the same thing has to be for
your children, whether you planned them or whether they just were blessed
to you. You have got to do something about it, let the child into the
home and feel secure within the home. Children are very perceptive. They
AB: Reverend Sherouse.
NS: I wanted to make or draw a parallel from having lived in another culture
for a period of time. The tradition in Japanese families is that
essentially children are not disciplined until they enter the educational
system. I have seen eighty-year-old grandmothers standing on trains to
allow their four or five-year-old grandchild to have a seat. Children are
doted over and they are not disciplined. The role of discipline is left
entirely to the educational system. But if you look at the figures, you
will discover that the Japanese have the highest figures internationally
for child and adolescent suicides. These peaked in the mid 1970s and the
Japanese became so alarmed that they decided maybe we ought to find out
what the problem is here. And in interviewing adolescents and older
children who seemed to have suicidal tendencies, they discovered over and
over again these young people saying that there is no forgiveness in the
educational system. If we fail, there is no grace. If they failed or
received a bad grade, there is no way to eradicate that block.
Now our system of discipline, a few years ago at least, was based on
discipline administered first of all in the home by the parent, or by
other parenting adults, but it is always a discipline with love, a
discipline with grace, where there is an opportunity to redeem oneself. It
appears to me that more and more parents are abdicating this opportunity
to teach children discipline and responsibility with love and grace. And
if we continue to abdicate that responsibility or if we expect the
educational system to assume that responsibility, I believe we are going
to find, more and more, our children and our adolescents feeling failure
with no possible way to redeem themselves. I think that one of the most
important things that we must do as parents and parenting adults is to
accept that responsibility as ours and give discipline with love, and with
affirmation, and with opportunity for redemption or I think we are going
to pay the price for that.
P: And when we discipline with love, are not we identifying the thing that we
are concerned with? They know the consequences, and we are disciplining
what was done rather than the doer. You see, those things are very
important. You are not attacking him and saying that he is just no good,
but saying you so not like what he did. That is very important, and as
you say, suicide among teenagers, college students, is a real problem. A
lot of college students are just ending it all. They write it up as
something else, but some people just cannot, I did not want to say "hang
with it." But, stay there, whatever you want to call it.
I had a person teaching next to me in Hillsborough County, whose mother
felt that he had to be a doctor, a medical doctor, a dentist, because you
know, everybody was. This guy went all the way through college, medical
school, did all these things, worked one year as a dentist. He taught
science next door to me and he did it all, because he wanted his mother to
know, "Finally, I do what I want to, so I do the things that you did not
like at all," like teaching was down to her, so he did it. This was a way
of communicating to her, "Now you cannot control me any longer, Mama, this
is it." I often think about him becuase that was rebellious. He was
AB: I think an important point here, though, as Dr. Parker said, family
meetings are important. Individual families have to take responsibility
for discipline, for raising children. If you are having a little trouble,
"Well, should I really discipline this child for this "C" or what?" It is
nice to be able to turn to somebody else in the community and talk about a
similar problem. What I am hearing a little bit tonight is that people
are a little unsure about how to discipline children because they do not
have support from their friends and neighbors and so forth in the
BW: We will be talking a great deal on the subject of family life, and we will
just touch on divorce. That is part of family life. Of course, if it
comes our way, at some time or another, we stand in line to accept it or
pass it up. I was down at the library, seeking some information about
family life, and the library was closed, so I had to come back and find
somebody that could talk to me about how life used to be, how families
used to function. I got together with a relative of mine, my favorite
aunt, and she is eighty-three years young so she knows a lot about what a
family is all about, with fourteen children.
We started about 1920, and we found that many families, and we are talking
about parents, had to separate on occasion for survival. It would be the
father perhaps going down south so to speak, or maybe the father in the
service. Like we have heard on occasions here tonight, family and
friends played an important role in the rearing and caring of the family.
Daddy was not there. There was Mrs. Jones up the road, down the street.
In a rural setting, we are back in the twenties now, not too many people
paid rent. You got the house you stayed in for the services that you
performed for the owner. It might have been a sharecropper. Anyway, you
had a house to stay in. But you did not sharecrop all the year because
the crops came in season like they do now.
One other note that came to mind, and it is a reality, that many white
families looked after many black families during those times. We come to
one important aspect of family life, and that is the common bond, what
holds the family together. Number one, care and concern of the family,
and I might also mention that we did not have so much crime back in the
1920s and 1930s, not petty crimes. There were criminals, but they were
really hard core people. You could almost discipline a child, I am told,
by instilling in that child's mind about crime and its consequences. That
was almost enough to just keep them in line.
Something else that we enjoy in a common bond: The youth were compelled
to attend church; whether you wanted to go or not, you had to go. I
remember as children, we used to have Sunday School at 10:00 in the
morning, morning worship about 11:30, a 3:00 service, BYPU-Baptist
Training Union at 6:00, and back there again at 8:00 at night. So we
were churching all day long.
Also, if your economic situation warranted it, or if you could leave the
family without creating a hardship, you went to school. You just did not
get up in the morning and miss the bus, or just decide that you wanted to
quit. If you were eligible to go, you went. The parents realized and
instilled in their children, that education was a way out and that it
meant the possibility for better living and for intellectual advancement.
The next thing we find in a common bond, I am really hyped up on, and that
is respect. I love respect. Parents of the past instilled in their
children respect for others, respect for other peoples' property, and
respect for other peoples' feelings. Like Dr. Parker mentioned, all this
began at home. You do not go to school and learn all this. You know it
when you get there.
So we have proceeded up to World War II. Life started changing a little
after World War II. That was a war that the blacks and whites fought in
an integrated setting. They lived together, ate together, and died
together for the cause of freedom, and to insure a better life for
everybody back here at home. Of course, when everybody got back, they
were looking for a little better life. In every case, in every city, it
was not there when they returned. In fact, I was told that there was very
little noticeable change.
During the mid-fifties, the shackles of segregation were challenged.
Through the grace of God many hearts and consciences were touched, and
people started thinking a little bit differently than they had in years
back. They realized that a man should be judged by the contents of his
character, and not by what he looked like, what color his skin was. If
his character warranted being judged in a certain way, well, so be it.
Then we came upon the mid-1960s. My parents, like other parents, black
and white, started talking about integration. We worked this thing out on
both sides. We wanted to see what benefits we were going to have. "We
are doing all right like we are now," some said. "We will do better if we
take up this part." The parents soon realized that the immediate benefits
of integration would not be readily available to them, but to their
offspring, since our parents were already appropriately seasoned into the
mechanism of segregation. Now they have gotten used to it. That was the
only thing they knew. When you only know one way, that is the only way.
So, many families were somewhat reluctant to this change.
As I mentioned, it could only benefit the offspring. We see this today.
Our offspring are enjoying things that we never thought would be
possible. Things that we used to worry and wonder about, people enjoy
today without taking a second thought. As it relates to the black family,
segregation was an accepted norm. That was the only way we knew. We
worked in our place, we worshipped in our place, and we stayed in our
Family life in the black family has changed as more opportunities for
advancement have become available. Now we have come a long way in family
life. We are approaching the 1980s. Family life has changed dramatically
in the last fifty years. Things that people used to do they do not do
anymore. And we have discussed some of that tonight, as far as reaching
out and helping, and caring, and being concerned for one another.
Family, as I see it, is not as close as in past years, because people have
excelled intellectually, academically, spiritually, or whatever. There is
an old saying that sometimes we tend to forget the bridge that brought us
across, and there is a class distinction sometimes within one family. For
example, Uncle Ned is a professor, but his sister is still a domestic
person. So Uncle Ned's kids do not associate with his sister's kids,
because they think they are better than they are. That pulls the family
apart. The family has truly lost some of its respect for the family
Many of the people who instilled the pride and values that we have are
long gone. The old ladies and old men that knew right from wrong, and
would chastize you and put you on the right path and would keep you there,
are long gone. And the people that were rebelling against this discipline
then, are the people that are in charge now. Naturally, their offspring
are the ones that we are having the problem with, because the older people
that cared have gone on.
Also, we find today that in families there is a lack of respect. Many
times people will accumulate and accomplish, and sometimes that might
change their attitudes a little bit, and they do not feel as close. If
you have, it's to attract someone. But if you do not have, it is not so
easy to attract someone. Everyone loves the winner. And when you lose,
you lose by yourself. But that is not the way it should be. Because when
we consider our family, all of us came out of the same old nest,
regardless of what direction we took our first flights, we all came out of
the same nest.
And another thing we want to speak about in terms of family life is
freedom, and oh how we love freedom! We find that many of our young
people can define freedom more readily than I can. I find that freedom
sometimes is used in the wrong capacity. I think freedom sometimes is
abused. It is a thing that men have sat up countless nights and
negotiated for, walked countless miles for, or perhaps given their life
for, but it is just a common phenomenon now. Freedom is just something
that we get when we put our Tillie card in the bank. It is just that
simple. We do not think freedom has much value to it. We are born with
freedom. Daddy did not have it, Mama did not have it, but I have got it.
We have to learn to pride ourselves in our freedom. That goes for
everybody, because you might not be enslaved in one capacity of life, but
you might be in another. So freedom is very important.
We are moving on to parents of today in family life. It is kind of hard
to go behind Dr. Parker. Number one, many of us as parents set bad
examples for our children. We sit up and do a lot of things, and when the
children do them, we want to call the law. But children learn by what
they see us do.
Number two, we like to also acknowledge that many parents are well-meaning
people, but then they rely on others for the guidance of their children.
They have to work. They take the baby to the babysitter. They take the
baby to the day care center. They send the child to school. So, they do
not have time to teach the child all the things of life. "You go on out
there, they will teach you. And when you get back home from school, the
people in the street will teach you the rest!" It is very important that
we spend time with our children, set a good example for our children, and
above all, love them and let them know we love them. I love the truth
with anybody. I do not want my children to grow up thinking that I am a
partner in Hunter Marine when I am not. If I have, I tell them I have.
If I do not have, I tell them I do not have. If a child basically knows
your socioeconomic situation, he knows what to expect of you. If he asks
you, "Daddy, we were down at Hitchcock's. He has got those big trucks,"
tell him, "Well, Daddy does not have any money. When Daddy gets money,
Daddy will get you that big truck. Until then, we are going to leave it
hanging down there."
We are going to move on to another topic, and that topic is divorce. This
is just another segment of family life. Just like death, living,
sickness, whatever, divorce is a possibility. Statistics tell us that if
you go out and marry somebody tomorrow, whether you are in love or
whatever, there is a fifty-fifty chance that you are not going to make it.
You are going to have to put something in it out of the ordinary to make
it go. Personally, I have been married twice, and divorced one and a
half times. I am in the process of divorce. That is where the other half
is. These are my observations and opinions only. I am not a counsellor.
I am not qualified to counsel anybody about divorce, but I think I could
write a little tiny book about it.
Now, here are some of the causes I think that you might find people
blaming divorce on, in no particular order. Number one, lack of
communication. When there is a lack of communication, you definitely have
a problem. When you can communicate, you can solve just about anything
that comes up. If you have only two people involved, you can solve just
about anything that comes up pointing toward a divorce.
Number two, the lack of courtesy and respectability. Now, when you lost
that, it is kind of hard to go back and pick it up, especially the
respectability part. Another cause that might send one for an attorney is
outside influence. A lof of people on the outside can tell you how to get
to heaven. Well, like Charlie Rich once said, "No one knows what goes on
behind closed doors," so it is best, if you have a problem, to keep it in
the house and try to work it out among yourselves.
Another thing that can cause problems toward divorce is one's failing to
live within the means of the family. It took grandmother and grandpapa
and mama and daddy forty years to get a color TV, and you just got married
last week and you want a color TV. It took them forty years to get a
microwave oven. But you want all those things that they got in fifty
years in two weeks. When Mr. Cox starts knocking and Mr. Badcock, and
there is no money, well, you have got a problem. When money leaves the
house, sometimes you have to be in pretty good love to stay there.
There was a record out once the name of which was fifty-fifty. I think
Brother Teddy Pendergrass wrote that record. He said, "I want a fifty-
fifty love." If you have a fifty-fifty love, you have got a fifty-fifty
chance. I did not write it down a fifty-fifty, I wrote it down a sixty-
forty. Now, a sixty-forty marriage does not work because somebody is
pulling sixty percent and somebody is pulling forty percent. So you are
losing a little ground somewhere. Both partners are not headed in the
same direction, but that is very important. You have to try to stay on
the same plane. I used to hear people say, "The grass always looks
greener on the other side of the fence." I have even observed, going from
here to Gainesville, a beautiful horse in the pasture, and he would be
standing on the grass and reaching over the fence, about to break his
neck, to get grass that is just the same as the stuff he is standing on.
It always appears that what is away from us is better than what we have.
The best way to find out is to get out there and experience it. And if
you get your neck stuck in the fence, pray to God that you can get it back
out without hurting yourself.
Everybody who is married, at some time or another took some kind of vows,
by a justice of the peace, or one of these little trailer house preachers,
or somebody. Maybe the vows were said out of the ritual that you were
going through, they did not mean that much. But if you very seriously take
to heart what you are doing and just listen to the vows, they say a lot,
and they commit a lot, for better or worse. Oh, it is so easy to say "I
do," and "I will," but like I mentioned before, when it is better
everybody keeps running. But when it is worse, everybody wants to go the
other way. I feel, in family life, that is the time you need to have a
direct communication with the Lord, when it starts acting like that. But
in a better sense, I would advise anybody, if you are thinking about
getting married, or if you are married and it does not look like it is
going to work out, if you are still living there, there is a chance you
can save it if you put God first in your life.
One of the biggest things that caused my problems that I share both
physically and mentally, is the fact that I did not obey the First
Commandment. You know, the Bible says that, "Thou shalt have no other
gods before me." And I did. I unconsciously put my wife above Jesus
Christ, and that will not work. It will not work.
Fidelity is very important. If you are going to be somebody's husband,
somebody's wife, be loyal. When you get ready to go, there is a time you
can speak. You do not have to run out behind the oak tree and tie a
yellow ribbon around it and so forth. Just to say what you have got to
say and mean what you say, and if it is time for you to go, God bless you.
Okay. In order to insure a happy marriage, one must first believe in the
institution of marriage. A lot of people are married, but they do not
believe in marriage. A lot of people are married and are trying to be
single. Trying to live a single life just will not work. You are going
to either be married and be married, or you are going to be married and
eventually be single.
In closing, remember to take your vows very seriously. Constantly renew
the things and thoughts that brought you to the alter. Now for every one
of us that is married, there was some magic that brought us there, whether
it was a First National Bank passbook, that slick Cadillac, or your good
looks. There was something that enticed you to commit yourself to that
person. But nothing is definite, eternity and everything changes. So
when these things do change, that is where "for better or worse," comes
in. The new limousine that you rode away from the church in in 1983,
well, in 1986 that car is three years old. Nothing remains the same. The
only advice that I can give to you in this situation or in any other
segment of family life, is to put God first in your life. Put Him first
in your living and first in your giving. Thank you very much.
AB: I would like to point out a few things that I heard. One, that if we talk
about family life in Alachua, we are not always talking about the perfect
family. There is family life when people are not married, that are just
living by themselves single. That is family life because they are part of
the town. There is family life with single parents, when the spouse has
left for one reason or another. That is still family life and it is an
important part of family life. It is one, I think, we all need to think
about. We cannot all have this mythical, perfect family with 2.3 children
and grandparents there and everything else.
So when we think about family life in Alachua, we have to think about
those other kinds of families and those other alternatives that people
have. When we think about family life here, I think as Mrs. Bryan said,
there is a strength to living in Alachua. There are some excellent role
models. Ms. McFadden and her sister have lived here a long time and we
could turn to her for some wisdom in living a family life here, not
necessarily with the perfect family again, but there just the same.
There are other families we could look to in Alachua who have given a
certain joy to living in the family. Mrs. Horsley, I think, expressed
something I have noticed in other towns I have lived in and done research
in. In a lot of small towns there is a certain joy of living and a joy of
just partaking in the community as a family member. I am reminded of my
wife's mother who goes out walking with eight or ten women around their
small town in Iowa. They march around town together in the morning, and
it is the same thing. Everybody sees them and they recognize them and
that is part of the special thing of a small town.
We think about the importance of family activities here. Part of them are
as simple as getting together and walking around town a little bit. If
there is something that came up tonight that might be useful, it is that
more people can do that. It is a simple kind of recreation. Walking is an
enjoyable time. You can talk to each other. You can squirt dogs with
Gard. You can do all kinds of things while you are out walking and it is
good for your health as well and you get to see those other people. You
get to hear about what those other kids are doing and maybe get to help
them out as well. But when I think about what we are doing in this forum,
one question I have is, what does the future hold? What can make family
life here better? What do we see in the future for Alachua? What sort of
family activities, recreational activities, church activities, what sorts
of things will continue into the future that we have here? And I would
like to ask you out there, if you had to plan the ideal Alachua, for the
future in terms of our family activities, what would we wish to see here?
M: I would like to respond to that question. The future, of course, depends
upon our sense of values in terms of what we actually consider valuable,
what we actually designed, or actually want to work hard enough to
achieve. If we want to have a perfect family, a family that will actually
function normally and happily and involve a sense of love, then it takes a
great amount of work. It is not something that can be done very cheaply
or very easily. And today everything is that way.
The fashion of American society today is everything, very cheap, very
easy, you charge it. But you cannot take human values, you cannot take
the family and simply make it a cheap thing. It has to be worked on. I
mean, if you want to make a very nice preparation, a very nice cake, you
have to work on it very hard, and put a lot of energy into it. Anything
of quality takes time.
I also want to take this opportunity to express some of the sentiments of
the devotees of the Hare Krishna Farm to everyone here. Your response [to
them] was an extremely warm reception received two nights ago at the other
forum. We see that everyone's actually very warm and wonderful. One more
quick point, perhaps to outline very quickly the values of the Krishna
First of all, there is absolutely no divorce, because the center of a
Krishna Conscious person's life is Krishna, or God, and service to
Krishna, service to God, is in the center of that relationship. The wife
simply assists the husband in that service, it is her role. As far as
production of progeny goes, as far as sex life in Krishna Consciousness,
the principle there is to have a sex life only for the production of
children. This is the actual purpose of that act. If we examine, not
just for that act, but the child is very much planned. It is actually
purely for medical process that one moves through to produce this child.
They say in the Bhagavad Gita that if you want to produce a child, that in
the type of consciousness that you are in at the time of conception, you
attract a soul to that womb. So you can find in many places like, in
larger cities especially, that where the sexual activity is very
promiscuous, children are produced without any care at all. Actually in
this country we find, with so many abortions, that actually there are many
unwanted children. When the child is somehow produced and he is allowed
to live, he grows up and becomes a juvenile delinquent. So we want to
stress the importance of having God, we say Krishna, you say God, in the
center of one's life in all activities, be it marriage, be it whatever.
I have some suggestions for recreational activities. You could take ox
cart rides, or if you really want some strenuous recreation come out to
the farm. We will give you a couple of acres to plow.
Mc: I would like to say that I have lived in many families, as a teacher. And
those who had a church to go to, it did not matter what church, but some
church that believes in the Lord Jesus Christ and that he died for us, to
save us from our sins. I believe that twenty-third Psalm I memorized when
I was about twelve years old, going to a Presbyterian preacher's daughter
who was teaching in our school at the time. If you really believe the
twenty-third Psalm, you have nothing to fear. I know that the Lord has
taken care of me because I did believe in His word and in the twenty-third
AB: Thank you Ms. McFadden.
F: I would like to touch on two things that I have heard, I am indeed
fortunate to have two grandchildren and after hearing a lot tonight, I
learned very much. First of all, when the children were born, their
parents were graduates from college, so they did it differently than the
average person. We took into consideration education, love,
responsibility, and good health, those four things. So when they first
learned how to say words, we started spending money for Child-craft Books,
teaching the identification of objects, poetry, and there are other
chapters. Later on, from Sesame Street, they learned to spell words. I
taught them speedreading, because that way they hear the sound of a word,
and from that they move into the upper stages. Then I got the shock of my
life year before last. My daughter lived in Atlanta. I had a chance when
I was up there at school to go, they finally got a home, and my grandson
said, "Granddaddy, I want to show you my room." I said, "Okay," and I got
the shock of my life. We are talking about responsibility and how much it
pays. Every shoe was in line, every shirt. Now he is just a boy and that
room was neat. Not only that, training and good health was another thing
they taught in responsibility. Right now we give them one long distance
call a week, but if something happened to them at school, they know how to
call us in Florida direct. He also knows his parents' responsibilities.
Also, education costs money, but you have got to start in those early
stages where you have got to learn to draw, to do all those kinds of
developments. Now last year when he went to school for the first time,
they had to move him in advanced education three times, because before he
ever went to school he was drawing rectangles and triangles there at the
house. We did not wait for the teachers, we did it there at the house.
Last, but not least, divorce. It is sad, and yet it is true, that we are
caught up in an age were people have lost all respect for marriage.
"Shacking up" has become popular, rather than decency. And we as members
of society have tolerated this. That is why they are going to have a
problem in the church now. One of the men went off and got married
without any counseling. I believe before any marriage, you should go to a
minister and let him counsel you and lay out before you the exact
responsibilities of life, what is expected of you, not just this thing of
running up to Georgia because you can get a license quick. All of these
things hurt young people, who do not want responsibility, and marriage
will not work without responsibility. The town needs to stay out of a lot
T: One last announcement. Next week we have another program. We have had
good participation all along, but please bring a friend.
G: One of the groups that we really did not get tonight, and perhaps we can
talk about them at the forum on "Health and Welfare," is the unmarried
teenage mothers. Half our caseload is situations like that. There are
really very few resources for them. One of the lacks is prenatal care and
prenatal education for them. I think the church currently helps to meet
that need and we would really be happy to provide some of that for them.
Some of the lacks that we have seen in the past, you have mentioned
tonight, like medical needs, and Parent Aide. We are so happy to see
programs like that to help these young women.
P: I believe the future lies in education. Education of people and the needs
of people in society, that is the only way to start, whether it is unwed
pregnancy or whatever. It lies in education.
AB: I want to thank you all. Remember, next week, we will be at City Hall
with "Health and Welfare," and we should be a very good panel. Again,
bring a friend.