Preparing for the storm

November 24, 2017 |

Happy Black Friday, America! Although Black Friday is no longer stirring as much controversy as it did when it first started encroaching on Thursday night and pulling people away from their family Thanksgiving celebrations. Merchants have now pushed it so far forward that in some cases, it’s crept past Thanksgiving and started so early that their Black Friday sales are over by the previous Tuesday or Wednesday. Well, at least it’s no longer interfering so much with Thanksgiving, although at this rate, it might soon be competing with Halloween.

Like many Americans, I’m making sure I enjoy this holiday with my family and friends by not talking about politics. Instead, I'd like to talk about something that doesn't change with the passing headlines. It's the greatest gift that a parent can give to a child: the gift of character. This is the time of year when people go out shopping for holiday bargains, and it’s easy to let the thrill of the hunt and the lure of saving a few dollars override our good manners and consideration for others. But if you have character, that’s not a problem.


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Where does character come from? It’s rooted in parents teaching their kids integrity and respect for others. And it may not be politically correct to say so, but kids need to be disciplined according to traditional, agreed-upon standards.

A few years ago, a Black Friday crowd in New York became so crazed to get at bargains that they trampled a Walmart worker to death, and trampled other workers who tried to help him. When told the store was being closed because of the death, they shouted curses and just kept shopping. If you could turn back the clock a decade or two, I'll bet you would see most of those shoppers as kids, running wild, bullying other kids, sassing their elders...in other words, having no boundaries and being taught no consideration for others. If you'd said anything to their parents then, they might've replied, "We don't want to stifle their creativity." Or "We don't want to impose our standards on our kids. Let them figure out for themselves what feels right to them." Instead of admitting that their behavior was objectively wrong, they might've tried to rationalize it as a disease or a disorder or as being “free-spirited.” Or maybe they would've just cursed and punched you for daring to question their parenting.


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Children may act as if they resent discipline, but they not only need it, they secretly crave it. They need parents to instill the Golden Rule, and to teach them that there are certain lines we all must stay within, or else society falls apart. There are thousands of strips of concrete in every city. Imagine what would happen if every airline pilot made a personal, creative decision about which patch of concrete it would “feel good” to land on.

We live in a time when mass media and social media cause shifts in standards for language or behavior to take the nation by storm, and suddenly, both living and historic figures are being condemned for not measuring up to standards that didn’t even exist before last Tuesday (are you old enough to remember ‘way back to when it wasn’t considered hateful, bigoted, intolerant transphobia to object to a middle-aged man walking into the ladies’ room when your 14-year-old daughter was in there?)


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But we can’t be constantly judging the past by ever-shifting standards of the moment. As British author L.P. Hartley said, “The past is a foreign country. They do things differently there.” The only fair way to judge anyone, past or present, is by an immovable moral standard that’s not subject to the whims of changing fads and opinions. And to do that, children have to be taught such standards. Standards such as “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Take responsibility for your own actions. And try to keep your head even when everyone around you is losing theirs.

In 1997, Arkansas was struck by a devastating tornado. As Governor, I was visiting one of the worst-hit towns when State Rep. Martha Shoffner said she had to show me something. She took me to a courthouse that had lost its roof. Inside was a museum in which everything had been blown away or destroyed, except for one thing. Still hanging on the wall was my official Governor's photo. It hadn’t broken or fallen off. It wasn't even tilted. I took it as a sobering reminder that no matter what disaster might befall our state, it was the Governor’s responsibility to remain steady and see everyone through.

The thought occurred to me then that we can't keep storms out of our kids' lives, and we can't teach them to hide from storms. All we can do is give them a strong enough foundation so that when life’s storms inevitably come, they'll be prepared to ride them out with a level head and a steady hand, and not go off the wall.

Here’s wishing you a safe and courteous shopping day and a happy Thanksgiving weekend!

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Comments 1-14 of 14

  • Clara Herrin

    12/16/2017 01:26 PM

    I know this comment is a little after the fact, but I just have to agree with you 100%. When raising my children I told them over and over that their freedom ended where someone else's freedom began. That you were not allowed to take a shortcut to the school bus through someone else's yard; or take something out of their yard just because you liked it. It worked. Now they teach their children those same precepts. Thank God!!!! It has made their lives so much happier.

  • Gretchen Grant

    11/28/2017 08:55 AM

    Unfortunately I see a lack of discipline in my own grandchildren. Their father certainly was not raised the way these two boys are being raised, but to keep the peace he goes along with his wife. There is a marked difference when they are alone with us. We do set boundaries, we do expect to be listened to when speaking to the boys and we do expect them to be respectful. They are good boys, but when children know that whining will get them their way.....well, I can only pray they will come out the other side better than they are being taught.

  • Larry Couch

    11/27/2017 10:35 PM

    You did a great job in raising your daughter, she is doing an AWESOME job

  • Linda Lee

    11/27/2017 03:22 PM

    I appreciate your article. I am seeing first hand what happens when a mom forsakes her Believing husband, morality
    -including the teachings of Christ and leaves without notice, taking their 9 children for four months. Dad had no idea where his family was or how to teach them except by texting. The children were told they were on a vacation and Dad didn't want to go with them. All lies. Since then Dad filed for custody for his children. During the last month of hiding the children, their Mom and her lover all lived with the lover in a 2-bedroom apartment. The children ranged in age from 18 months to 18 years. The seventeen yr old has Autism. The 11 yr old struggles with learning difficulties.
    All missed their dad and felt abandoned.
    Meanwhile Dad paid all bills, maintained the small farm and animals and enjoyed the 60% custody the court gave to him. However, Mom's justification to the kids for choosing a lover and divorcing the spouse of 24 years, is poisoning the children with lies of abuse and undermining the character and value of the Dad in an attempt make him appear as a bumbling fool. Mom says he will not keep with the spiritual growth changes made over the past two years while in Christiancounseling and mentoring. The courts ordered that both parents refrain from involving the children in details of their adult issues. Dad follows this and Mom does the oposite. We came to support Dad and the children. We drive nearly 3,000 miles to help with the children. What we find is heartbreaking and appalling.
    The courts just today reduced Mom's time with the children to one night per week and every other weekend. That is 80/40%. That will only begin when Mom. secures approved housing within the children's school district. That will take some time, but is in the works. For six months Dad has had to leave the family home during Mom's weekends and during school hours every day. Mom had been home schooling, so that was the reason for weekday hours at the home. The court wanted the children tested. The tests the school district performed showed such terribly low results that the school reported them to Children's Services. Dad and the children and their guardian met with them. The fact that Mom wanted total control of the home school, refusing Dad's help, took the spotlight off of Dad.
    I'm not under court order, so I've been telling the older children some truth to counteract Mom's lies about Dad. The children act as if Mom is in control of the home whether she is here or not. They get upset and sound frightened if we challenge Mom' rules. Even the sell by date on milk is controlled by Mom. She told the children to check all dates and if milk appears out dated to dump it. That explains why so much food is missing from freezers and the refrigerators. Mom dumped things, even frozen leftovers or the "wrong" kind of Yogurt!
    It is a huge thing for a mom to loose custody of her children. If Mom refuses to make changes she may loose all custody. For nearly two years her priorities have been her singing and her boyfriend. Dad watched and managed the children and home for a year before Mom left. She was gone much of the time, often meeting her lover. She even brought the baby and two other daughters to an out of town motel. When Baby needed her the older daughter couldn't locate Mom. She called Dad, who didn't know. However he determined th lover was a current guest. Mom later said she'd been in the bar. It was closed at 2am. She was in her lover's motel room. Dad's suspicions were confirmed. He confronted Mom. Mom repentedand asked for forgiveness, which was granted. That lasted less than 6 hours. Mom's heart hardened again and has yet to relent.
    This family was known in their rural community and in churches and Christians for many years. It is so sad that their witness has been attacked so visibly! We believe in redemption our prayer immediately is for Mom to stop wounding the children with lies. Long-term we pray for her repentance and restoration to our Lord and to her husband.
    Dad did not counter sue Mom's divorce. To protect the children he filed for legal separation. That protects Mom from giving up her case and having the custody agreements stop. By having a legal separation it leaves the custody agreement in place. That way if she absconds with the children again she would be subject to arrest.
    We appreciate prayers for this, our family in pain. That includes Dad, Mom, the children, and relatives who love them on both sides. There is discussion on psychological testing. It costs tens of thousands. We believe Mom's troubles stem from depression. Before the 2 yr old's birth Mom suffered two bad miscarriages. The last one required an ambulance and hospitalization. Then her last birth was very difficult. She's been subject to postpartum depression before. Once leading to bizarre behavior and an internet affair. She doesn't believe in psychiatric treatment or meds.
    Thanks for reading and praying.

  • Brigitte Howells

    11/27/2017 02:08 PM

    I love Kipling's "IF":If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you and make allowance for their doubting too." This line is for Donald Trump to keep his head above water.
    Thank you, Governor, for your daily reminder that not the whole of USA has become like CA.

  • Janet Burton

    11/26/2017 12:16 PM

    I can't say thank you enough. I only wish more people would listen to what you say. It really is sad that everything has to be "politically correct", instead of what and really how things should be. People are no longer responsible for their own actions, or words, and that is really very sad. I know, I keep saying, what is wrong with people? I simply cannot comprehend why parents have not taught their children, do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Bless you and your family.

  • LORI ANN REGO

    11/26/2017 08:52 AM

    GOV. THAT WAS A BEAUTIFUL STORY YOU SHARED ABOUT THE TORNADO IN ARKANAS.

  • Ronald Banert

    11/25/2017 07:22 PM

    Thank you Mike. Thanksgiving has been for my wife and I, my bride for 39 years December 16th, a time for remembering God Mercies and Grace, all he has done and been to us personally. We never have been swept up into the secular marketing of Christmas and subsequently usually shop the week before, sales or no sales. We love to save a buck, when we can, but Christmas is a celebration of Jesus, God's gift to mankind. And we will continue to make Him our celebration and our families the objects of our tender affections these holiday seasons.

  • Sarah Menne

    11/25/2017 07:03 PM

    My parents separated when I was 16. My Mom took my took two younger brothers and my 18 year old brother and I were "assigned" to Dad. He worked out-of-town and my brother had an active college life. I was just beginning to date and was pretty lonely. A neighbor "tattled" to my Dad that I was coming in at 2 AM in the mornings. Dad took me aside when he came back for the weekend and informed me that if I didn't start coming home at a reasonable hour, I'd be given a curfew for the first time in my life. I distinctly remember proudly telling my boyfriend that I now had to come home earlier. I was truly relieved (and proud) for the discipline; and for the knowledge that my dad (and my neighbor) cared about my well-being. Kids definitely need and feel safer when there is discipline. Also - I long for the day when NO stores open on Thanksgiving so that all my grown kids and grandchildren hang around the fire pit sharing stories and roasting marsh mellows instead of being herded home so Mom can shop 'til she drops!!

  • Mike Smith

    11/25/2017 06:51 PM

    From other articles, it sounds like you had a wonderful Thanksgiving! Governor, I hope you realize that you're one of the much nicer influences that a LOT of us are very thankful for.

  • Don Hansen

    11/25/2017 05:09 PM

    Twenty years ago, in Nashville, Tennessee, during the first week of January, 1996, more than 4,000 baseball coaches descended upon the Opryland Hotel for the 52nd annual ABCA's convention.

    While I waited in line to register with the hotel staff, I heard other more veteran coaches rumbling about the line-up of speakers scheduled to present during the weekend. One name, in particular, kept resurfacing, always with the same sentiment — “John Scolinos is here? Oh, man, worth every penny of my airfare.”

    Who is John Scolinos, I wondered. No matter; I was just happy to be there.

    In 1996, Coach Scolinos was 78 years old and five years retired from a college coaching career that began in 1948. He shuffled to the stage to an impressive standing ovation, wearing dark polyester pants, a light blue shirt, and a string around his neck from which home plate hung — a full-sized, stark-white home plate.

    Seriously, I wondered, who is this guy?

    After speaking for twenty-five minutes, not once mentioning the prop hanging around his neck, Coach Scolinos appeared to notice the snickering among some of the coaches. Even those who knew Coach Scolinos had to wonder exactly where he was going with this, or if he had simply forgotten about home plate since he’d gotten on stage.

    Then, finally ...“You’re probably all wondering why I’m wearing home plate around my neck,” he said, his voice growing irascible.

    I laughed along with the others, acknowledging the possibility.

    “I may be old, but I’m not crazy. The reason I stand before you today is to share with you baseball people what I’ve learned in my life, what I’ve learned about home plate in my 78 years.”

    Several hands went up when Scolinos asked how many Little League coaches were in the room.

    “Do you know how wide home plate is in Little League?”

    After a pause, someone offered, “Seventeen inches?”, more of a question than answer.

    “That’s right,” he said “How about in Babe Ruth’s day? Any Babe Ruth coaches in the house?” Another long pause.

    “Seventeen inches?” a guess from another reluctant coach.

    “That’s right,” said Scolinos. “Now, how many high school coaches do we have in the room?”

    Hundreds of hands shot up, as the pattern began to appear. “How wide is home plate in high school baseball?”

    “Seventeen inches,” they said, sounding more confident.

    “You’re right!” Scolinos barked. “And you college coaches, how wide is home plate in college?”

    “Seventeen inches!” we said, in unison.

    “Any Minor League coaches here? How wide is home plate in pro ball?”............“Seventeen inches!”

    “RIGHT! And in the Major Leagues, how wide home plate is in the Major Leagues?

    “Seventeen inches!”

    “SEV-EN-TEEN INCHES!” he confirmed, his voice bellowing off the walls. “And what do they do with a Big League pitcher who can’t throw the ball over seventeen inches?” Pause. “They send him to Pocatello !” he hollered, drawing raucous laughter. “What they don’t do is this: they don’t say, ‘Ah, that’s okay, Jimmy. If you can’t hit a seventeen-inch target? We’ll make it eighteen inches or nineteen inches. We’ll make it twenty inches so you have a better chance of hitting it. If you can’t hit that, let us know so we can make it wider still, say twenty-five inches.'”

    Pause. “Coaches... What do we do when your best player shows up late to practice? Or when our team rules forbid facial hair and a guy shows up unshaven? What if he gets caught drinking? Do we hold him accountable? Or do we change the rules to fit him? Do we widen home plate?"

    The chuckles gradually faded as four thousand coaches grew quiet, the fog lifting as the old coach’s message began to unfold.

    He turned the plate toward himself and, using a Sharpie, began to draw something.

    When he turned it toward the crowd, point up, a house was revealed, complete with a freshly drawn door and two windows.

    “This is the problem in our homes today. With our marriages, with the way we parent our kids. With our discipline.

    We don’t teach accountability to our kids, and there is no consequence for failing to meet standards. We just widen the plate!”

    Pause.

    Then, to the point at the top of the house he added a small American flag.

    “This is the problem in our schools today. The quality of our education is going downhill fast and teachers have been stripped of the tools they need to be successful, and to educate and discipline our young people. We are allowing others to widen home plate! Where is that getting us?”

    Silence.

    He replaced the flag with a Cross. “And this is the problem in the Church, where powerful people in positions of authority have taken advantage of young children, only to have such an atrocity swept under the rug for years. Our church leaders are widening home plate for themselves! And we allow it.”

    “And the same is true with our government. Our so called representatives make rules for us that don’t apply to themselves. They take bribes from lobbyists and foreign countries. They no longer serve us. And we allow them to widen home plate! We see our country falling into a dark abyss while we just watch.”

    I was amazed. At a baseball convention where I expected to learn something about curve balls and bunting and how to run better practices, I had learned something far more valuable.

    From an old man with home plate strung around his neck, I had learned something about life, about myself, about my own weaknesses and about my responsibilities as a leader. I had to hold myself and others accountable to that which I knew to be right, lest our families, our faith, and our society continue down an undesirable path.

    “If I am lucky,” Coach Scolinos concluded, “you will remember one thing from this old coach today. It is this: "If we fail to hold ourselves to a higher standard, a standard of what we know to be right; if we fail to hold our spouses and our children to the same standards, if we are unwilling or unable to provide a consequence when they do not meet the standard; and if our schools & churches & our government fail to hold themselves accountable to those they serve, there is but one thing to look forward to ...”

    With that, he held home plate in front of his chest, turned it around, and revealed its dark black backside, “...We have dark days ahead!..”

    Note: Coach Scolinos died in 2009 at the age of 91, but not before touching the lives of hundreds of players and coaches,including mine.

    Meeting him at my first ABCA convention kept me returning year after year, looking for similar wisdom and inspiration from other coaches.

    He is the best clinic speaker the ABCA has ever known because he was so much more than a baseball coach.

    His message was clear: “Coaches, keep your players—no matter how good they are—your own children, your churches, your government, and most of all, keep yourself at seventeen inches."

    And this my friends is what our country has become and what is wrong with it today, and now go out there and fix it!

  • Kim Yellow Horse

    11/24/2017 11:26 AM

    Beautiful. God bless you and your family Governor Huckabee. I wish there were more like you sir. And not just in politics or on tv, but in everyday life. What a legacy you are building! And we very much enjoy listening to your daughter as well. Thanks for facing the public wrath to bring us a rational voice of truth, for your political incorrectness, and most of all for fighting the good fight of faith. We appreciate you!

  • Joyce Tennant

    11/24/2017 11:11 AM

    It's 7:45 on Black Friday morning. From my 3rd floor apt. I can see a BIG line waiting at my neighborhood pot shop. But a Seattle TV station did a survey and 92% of people said they would not shop on Black Friday. Joyce

  • Ronald L Collins

    11/24/2017 10:34 AM

    We know God instituted the Home, and people our age many of us knew what a solid home and upbringing and going to church and Sunday school on Sunday morning meant. But starting in the late 60s until this day the home has got weaker and weaker and we see the disastrous results across this nation. My mother always had the right channel on when Billy Graham had a national crusade as far back as I can remember in the early 1950s. My mothers godly testimony and faithfulness to the Lord making sure we were ready to go to Sunday school and church on Sunday morning before my dad became a Christian along with Billy Graham's sermons my dad, Took us to church and Sunday school one morning in that morning he stayed instead of going home and picking us up later a few weeks later he walked forward in our Baptist Church, doing the hymn of decision for Christ, The pastor lead my dad to the Lord. Solid homes are getting hard to find in this day and time, Strahle homes mean strong charges and strong nations, and as I said before we can all see the disastrous results, And we can all see what secularism has done to this nation. Thankfully God intervened November 8, 2016 !