Commonwealth Journal

October 21, 2011

Somerset, KY - Commonwealth Journal

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OPINION Commonwealth Journal A Community Newspaper Holdings Inc. Publication 110-112 East Mt. Vernon Street Somerset, Ky. 42502 606-678-8191 (phone ) 606-679-9225 (fax) Jack McNeely Publisher Shannon King Business Manager James Girdler Circulation Director Mike Hornback Advertising Director "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances." — The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution OTHER VIEWS Bringing troops home is overdue on whether to keep U.S. troops there past Dec. 31, sources say the decision has been made to stick with the withdrawal deadline that was set in 2008. We hope so. And we hope similar decisions are made W to speed the withdrawal of American forces from Afghanistan. Iraq was to be a simple affair when launched by President Bush: Speed in, overthrow a dictatorship and build a new democracy. But with 4,400 American military lives lost since 2003, there is less success to show in Iraq than most would have imagined. Today, the Iraqi government itself is divided on whether it, or its people, want any American troops to remain. And the Iraqi government has refused to provide immunity from prosecution for Americans, something U.S. military and diplomatic figures insist on. Bringing home the 45,000 American troops in Iraq — while leaving a few hundred to protect America's largest embassy in Baghdad — is overdue. The focus should turn to extracting American troops more quickly from Afghanistan. In a few months our war in Afghanistan will be longer than any in U.S. history; Vietnam lasted 10 years and eight months. Occupation of the rugged mountainous country has been mostly an effort in futility, despite the loss of 1,700 American lives. The Afghan people increasingly resent our presence, the government has shown no stomach for fighting terrorists, we're spending $113 billion a year there, and neighboring Pakistan could be ranked as one of the worst allies America has ever had, doing all it can to protect the Taliban and hinder U.S. efforts. A recent Pew study shows even the American troops who fought there see little success. One-third of veterans believe neither the Afghan nor Iraqi wars were worth the cost. Another one-third were unsure. Many believe Afghanistan will collapse into another civil war after U.S. troops leave. If so, staying another few years, or another decade, will only delay the inevitable. ••• The Free Press Mankato, Minn. hile Obama administration officials insist there are ongoing discussions with Iraqi leaders Ken Shmidheiser Managing Editor Jeff Neal News Editor Bill Mardis Editor Emeritus FRIDAY October 21, 2011 Page A4 AMY GESENHUES How to negotiate (with a second-grader) an agreement about her after-school snack. "Can I have chips?" she M asks. "No, your choices are yogurt, a cheese-stick or half of a peanut butter sandwich," I tell her. "What about a snack bag of fruit jellies," she tries again. The fruit jellies have as much fruit in them as the box they're packaged in. "No. Yogurt, cheese or peanut butter," I say again. "Can I have something from the candy box?" she pleads. Her voice has gone up a few octaves and with a whining lilt to it; it's the tone that kids perfect before they enter grade school. They use it to draw out the word "please" or add an extra syllable to the word "mom." Her perseverance will one day win her awards. Today, it only pushes my patience to the edge. "How about a raw turnip?" I say. We don't even have turnips in the house, but it's the first thing I can think of to raise the ante. If she doesn't take from her predefined choices, the selections only get worse. She has perseverance; but, I am an expert negotiator. For now, at least. I know one day soon I will have to raise the stakes. My parent-child negotiations will move from snacks and bedtime into the world of gadgets and curfews and events that don't include me hovering nearby. The one thing I've learned as a parent — arguably the only thing I've learned as a parent — is that as soon as I say, "I'll never let my kids [fill in the blank]," I break my own rule. It started before I thought I would have children. I was young and dumb and had all kinds of rules I would follow Amy Gesenhues CNHI News y daughter is unhappy with me. We cannot come to should I hand in my no-kids card. A close friend had already joined the parenthood club with two young daughters and a husband who worked nights. Many evenings, she would let her children crawl in bed with her. "I can't believe you let your kids sleep with you," I said during a conversation that I've wished a million times over I could redo. Just the thought of my crass judgment makes me cringe. She shrugged it off and never mentioned her bedtime rituals to me again. Six years later, my first child came along and was sleeping in my bed within hours of being home from the hospital. There's no better way to make sure something happens than saying you'll never do it. That was my first lesson in parenting. So now, while my daughter is still young enough to believe I know more than she does, I have to walk the line of what's next very carefully. I know one day, my daughter will have to defy me to define herself. There are so many tangible items between a mother and daughter that get poured into the mix. Cell phones, Facebook accounts, allowances, clothes. All these things will be available for her to project her own identity. My hope is that I get my message across before all the other messages — messages from the media, her peers, the mistakes I make and our culture — start to blur the picture. My message for my children is simple. I want my daughter and son to know their self-worth and embrace the whole of who they are. I want them to be strong- willed and mindful and kind. I want them to make decisions based on love and passion and not out of fear or a need to please someone else. I want them to brush their teeth daily and be healthy. I want them to put happiness before the urge to always be right. Most of all, I want them to know and feel real love and the power it has to heal and move you forward. Being a parent is nothing like I thought it was going to be before I was one. I grew up in a home where I was the oldest of four children; all my siblings were much younger than me. At one moment in time, my mom had a 16 year-old, 7- year old, 2-year-old and 9- month old. Our house was mostly in chaos, with an endless stream of laundry and sinks full of dirty dishes. As a teenager, I saw firsthand what came with having a home full of kids. I loved my siblings through and through; but, the last thing I thought I would ever do as an adult was have children. Then I did; and, immediately understood the ways in which having children impact your life. My children gave me everything I want them to have — mindfulness, health and happiness. And so, to make sure I return these gifts, I must stay on message like Coca- Cola on its patent red color. I'll have to work on my negotiation skills as well; I have a feeling my daughter is going to want a cell phone a lot more than any sugar- filled after-school snack. Amy Gesenhues is a columnist for the News and Tribune in New Albany, Ind. www. Contact her at

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