It is a sad day today, it is sad because I have to readily admit something so many of my colleagues already know. We adults are screwing up. We are making grave mistakes. We are personally corrupting and contaminating our youth. We are destroying the youth that we should be building up. We are failing to adequately prepare them to function in our world.
We are failing. I look at our youth today and I often find myself appalled – appalled by their attitudes, appalled by their sense of entitlement, appalled by their lack of empathy, appalled by their unwillingness to admit mistakes, take responsibility, or apologize, appalled at their lack of respect for themselves, those in authority, or society as a whole.
Yesterday we took our daughters to see Madagascar 3D….. The movie itself was okay – the theater experience was a complete nightmare. Seated in the row in front of us were 8 girls who appeared to be between the ages of 13 and 15. They came 15 minutes into the movie and argued for five minutes (literally) over which chair they would take – while standing up, in front of us blocking our view. When we asked them to sit down and be quiet they ignored us – blatantly ignored us. When we yelled at them that they were ruining our movie experience they laughed. My daughters know better than to behave that way – they know if they treated others that way they would be grounded for a week…. yet where were these girls’ parents? Who raised them to laugh at and ignore an adult who reprimands them for doing something wrong? Where are the caring apologies, the genuine remorse, the desire to make amends? What the heck is happening to this generation? Again, I would answer – it is us, we are killing this generation.
My daughters do not know the value of things… I remember I used to save up for weeks to purchase a new album and then play it over and over again until the needle had scratched the songs beyond recognition. My girls could not care less if something breaks – there is no connection to hard work, no understanding of the value of things and the need to conserve money, etc….. why aren’t they learning?
My first theory is that we give them too much – they get whatever they need when they need it and often also get whatever they want. As such, they are coming to expect that anything they want will be handed to them on a silver platter…. it is scary and all too common.
My second theory is that parents in today’s society fear their children – they are scared to discipline them, they are terrified to set boundaries. They have completely blurred the parent/ child line and have somehow abandoned their parental duties and obligations for the desire to be their childrens’ friend. We are NOT supposed to be our child’s best friend, we ARE supposed to be their parent. Children scream out for boundaries… yes, if they are not used to boundaries they may buck up against them in the beginning, but they are still ultimately screaming for them. Boundaries help children, they give them security and help them to understand that they can really trust their caretakers. I.E.: My mom sets boundaries for me – I know what is right or wrong and can relax knowing the expectations of me. Or: There are no rules, my father cannot control me – I really do not know where I end and my parents begin. The world is big and scary because my parents cannot even protect me from myself.
When I adopted my oldest from Ethiopia I had quite a few behavioral issues (she came home at @ 5.5 years old.) Many of the people who were in the same adoption network as I promoted the need for many choices and lots of flexibility – the more options I gave my daughter, the more she fell apart. After two weeks home I gave up and really tightened up the boundaries. I noticed an IMMEDIATE change in my daughter’s demeanor – as soon as I set limits she felt safer. Our kids need limits and boundaries, and some training in respect – for themselves and others.
Today, 238 days ’til 40, I strive to raise my girls with an appreciation for hard work and the understanding that they will one day have to also work hard in order to live their dreams.