The opinions stated in this article are solely those of the author and not of The Davis Clipper.
My wife recalls a former Relief Society teacher answering a question about successfully raising a family. “As far as I’m concerned,” said the woman with a smile, “you have been a success if your children have reached adulthood and they haven’t spent a single day in prison!”
Parenting can be rewarding, but no one ever thought it was a proverbial day on the beach. Parents are not always in control. That said, however, parents who spend time with their children and explain their individual beliefs, expectations, and values generally find willing ears.
Too many members in the Utah Legislature don’t understand; they annually try to intrude into family decisions, believing that elected officials are more adept at parenting.
This year’s controversial “liquor bill” was a perfect case. Most Utahns, according to polls, acknowledge that the “Zion Curtain” in restaurants was silly. There was no body of science showing that letting children and teenagers seeing wine being poured and cocktails being mixed had any effect on their future drinking or sobriety.
This view makes sense. Just because an eight-year old saw a bartender putting a little umbrella in a rose-colored glass didn’t lead the kid to blurt, “Boy, when I grow up, I’m going to become a whiskey drinker!”
The obvious answer was to allow restaurant owners to tear down the “Zion Curtain” and post a sign that children are not allowed to sit at a restaurant bar counter.
Instead, the legislators constructed a bill forcing all restaurants with liquor licenses to either build their own “Zion Curtain,” create a buffer area within 10 feet of the bar, or mount a 42-inch-high railing/wall to keep children from seeing the bottles.
Some restaurants will have little trouble complying, but for most it will be costly, and in some cases due to the restaurant design, impossible. What’s next? Building a wall at the Maverick convenience stores and the Smith’s groceries so children won’t see the Budweiser displays and become budding alcoholics?
How about letting adults be responsible not only for their own drinking selections but also for raising their children? (“Listen, Johnny, some people choose to drink alcoholic beverages. That’s their choice, but in our family and our religion, we see it as a dangerous choice. We will give our neighbors free agency to choose, but we hope you follow our example and advice and follow the path we have chosen.”)
How hard is that? And how difficult is that for legislators to understand that increasing economic development might mean giving an inch to “outsiders” moving in or visiting our state.
In the past, potential restaurants located near churches could receive a variance if the church pastor claimed he wasn’t bothered by folks sipping wine within 600 feet of his pews. The new bill takes away the pastor’s rights too. Yes, the legislators know best.
James Morgese, general manager of KUED Television, recently wrote about the new PBS KIDS channel. He encouraged parents to watch some of the programs with their sons and daughters, extolling “parents talking to their children about what they’re watching…interacting with the media alongside their children.”
Parents being accountable…Boy, that’s a novel idea the legislature should consider.