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.
June 28, 2012 at 00:39
Welcome to the generation gap! Again the Baby Boomers leave us with a dilema…what do we do with a third generation of entitlement? I watched a program on BIO the other day (don’t ask…I was house sitting and can’t work out how to change the channels on the remote…) about how successful companies go broke. It’s most pertinent to your post today. The company is founded by a street smart savvy businessman who manages (through whatever means) to make their small company a thriving business…it goes from strength to strength and the second generation are initiated into the clan to ensure the companies continued success…the original founder of the company dies and the children (second succession) take over. Their children…the third generation have grown up in abject affluence and are for the want of a better word “spoiled”. When the company falls into their hands (which it inevitably does…) they tend to squander it away and the company goes broke. All you have to do is look at the Gucci company to see this in action. As soon as you get an overabundance of wealth and “security” you also see a rise in entitlement and disregard for those around you. The “ME” generation has been spawned from the Baby Boomers and the affluence of the Industrial revolution. We are at the end of that affluence and our 4th generation will raise themselves…will care for their parents in rehab as they spend their lives covered in tattoo’s, pierced to the max and with skateboards under their arms at 60 wondering where the font of “stuff” went. It’s nothing new… it’s a cycle and generation 4 are going to have to do it tough! It’s everywhere by the way… America isn’t the only place where shallow consumerism and a complete disregard for anyone other than “ME” is endemic. Hopefully you can gain a degree of solidarity for that bit of information 🙂
June 28, 2012 at 19:20
Yes, you are so correct, what a great (and sad) comment. I think that what will happen is that the bubble will continue to burst (we see it in the USA and in Europe and will go back to the poverty of the depression, etc. When that happens there will be a generation forced to work to barely get by and slowly the generations may work themselves up again from the bottom. I find it all so discouraging. It is true though, the greed and entitlement that continues through the generations is only hurting our society…. too bad we are not able to learn from the mistakes of others. My girls are not as bad as others, but I definitely see them as much more spoiled than I was at their age.
June 29, 2012 at 00:00
I have to say that having to think about your actions when you have less money available to be spent on “extra’s” is not always a bad thing…it certainly makes you feel extremely grateful whenever you do get something that you really want but don’t necessarily need. It will be a hard lesson for our children and their children (the poor 4th generation of entitlement that have to mop up the mess) but do you know I personally would rather be a problem solver and lateral thinker with less money than someone who holds their hand out vacantly waiting for a handout. My children are like yours (albeit a lot older). My 30 year old son worked his way through to being an accountant and is in the USA at the moment on holiday, my 2 daughters (22 and 24) live together and are furthering their education whilst lamenting “the state of youth today!”…its going to be a very VERY hard lesson for many of our spoiled children to learn but one that is inevitable as this is merely a cyclical event in the economic phase
June 29, 2012 at 21:57
Yes, I agree with you completely.
June 28, 2012 at 01:33
Oh my gosh …. AMEN!!!!!! Just talking about this today with my sister in law!!! Going to share on “Zoe Go” s Facebook page. (a place trying to share blogs).
June 28, 2012 at 19:24
Thank you so much and how very kind of you to share this on Zoe Go!
June 29, 2012 at 04:15
🙂 You’re welcome!
June 28, 2012 at 01:42
I hope…no, I pray that any parent who reads your words here adopts a similar attitude…and begins to raise their child/children with the values you’ve expressed. Excellent post, 400!
June 28, 2012 at 19:26
Thank you so much! The sad thing is… the parents who need to read this blog are probably not the ones who will.
June 28, 2012 at 01:44
Yes, there are people who are failing to uphold the Great Social Contract and they’ve unleashed dreadful children upon us – but it’s always been this way. Socrates wrote about dreadful children and not a lot has changed. In a way, that’s the good news, because my experience has been there are many more parents like you – trying to bring up healthy, productive, decent human beings – than there are of the other sort.
June 28, 2012 at 19:29
That is a very interesting point you bring up! Very good point.
June 28, 2012 at 01:51
As a middle school teacher, I see quite a bit of the behavior you describe. However, I also see students who rally around peers who are in crisis, provide unwavering support for students who would normally be targets of bullies, and go out of their way to express appreciation to the adults that help raise and teach them. I have found that much of the negative behavior comes from ignorance, and luckily that is something that we can correct.
June 28, 2012 at 19:30
Ah yes, we educators are really stuck with these issues – and particularly during the tumultuous time of adolescence! You are correct, not all students behavior horribly and there is a balance – there are wonderful children out there too. I also agree that a lot of ignorance does exist…. and on occasion, home modeling….
June 28, 2012 at 01:53
My son is 31, I am 52, you do the math. . . my grandson is around 19 months old. . . I’ve been a parent longer than any other identity. I did not marry or stay with his biological male parent. . .not that kind of thing. OK, that said. I have taught young people who came through school under what I call the “pedagogy of self-esteem”. Everyone gets a star. . . there is only achievement and no discipline of the mind. Then they have me for freshman Comp. . .and if I am lucky, they learn something about the outside world, to value others’ work through citations, and about themselves. The learn how to think for themselves and stand behind this thinking by making a true supported argument. I love it.
But I know this work goes against the parents and teachers who stand apart and give and give. Yes, they love their children but the don’t get dirty doing it. The freshman I meet who do come up in that kind of household doesn’t give me any trouble at all. They know what work is. The understand consequences for breaking rules or missing deadlines. They may not be the smartest student in the room but man, they are the ones who are unafraid. As I write this many of these students were Latino, first generation American.
I used to tell my son I’m his mother, not his friend. He will have many friends but only one mother and whether he liked me right now, that’s ok, we have time. I never lied to him. I never gave threats, I gave promises. I have an amazing relationship with him today, it’s full of mutual respect and love. It’s work. It’s the best hard work.
June 28, 2012 at 19:33
Wow, what great points you bring up! Yes, you did it right, and taught your son the correct values…. it is so sad when parents and teachers care more about being liked than doing their jobs… our jobs are to raise responsible children and help them to be responsible adults… our job is not to be liked…… sometimes I feel myself using the same mantra with my staff members.
June 28, 2012 at 02:03
Reblogged this on TreeHugginVamp and commented:
What are we doing to our kids?
June 28, 2012 at 03:55
I think you’ve hit on something painfully true here and we must all take responsibility (me being the first in line). I think part of the problem is that parents don’t have the compasses we used to have: mothers, grandmothers, aunts, neighbors. So we turn to popular media to define parenting. I think it will take a lot of courage and humility to stop and say, “what a minute, we’re following the wrong piper”. But this we must do. Getting back to God’s design for family is our only hope.
June 28, 2012 at 19:34
Yes, definitely…. I agree with you. I wonder how many will have the courage to stand up and go against popular culture.
June 28, 2012 at 04:30
The treatment of the bus monitor by middle-school kids is a perfect example of the need to try and mend our way and try to teach some respect and boundaries. These charming children are the future of my country. Any idea where we go from here?
June 28, 2012 at 19:35
Yes, you are right…… I wish I knew where to go from here – what is so hard is that so many parents are not willing to step up and set healthy boundaries and demand respect. The crazy thing is, by demanding respect you will actually get happier kids – they will trust parents more as they know they can rely on them.
June 28, 2012 at 05:32
Couldn’t agree more. I’ve seen it, too. When my daughter was being seriously bullied in all ways in middle school, the teachers and administrators were afraid of the bullies and provided no protection for victims. We had to put her in a private school for her safety. Sad, sad times.
June 28, 2012 at 19:37
You have got to be kidding me! That is horrible! That said, we have a Christian school up the road from our school – both private schools. Our school is secular. Ironically, we have had over 20 students transfer from the Christian school to our school because we have a no tolerance policy for bullying and better monitor our kids…… very sad. I take a firm stand against bullying and the kids know that if they cross the line they may not have the privilege of remaining in our school.
The Quiet Borderline (back in hospital)
June 28, 2012 at 12:59
It sounds like you are one of the fewest people talking the truth and that has common sense! I worry about bringing children in to this messed up world. But that’s probably a lot of my depression talking. I’m trying my best to find the good and positive things in life.
June 28, 2012 at 19:38
I wish more people understood. I agree with you, I also worried about bringing children into this world… and ended up adopting children that were already in this world and needed love and stability… hang in there.
June 28, 2012 at 15:55
I have been saying “that parents need to be parents; not friends” for years now! This post was like you were reading my mind!
June 28, 2012 at 19:38
Yes, now when will they learn??!!??
New Hampshire Gardener
June 28, 2012 at 17:09
When I was a boy I asked my father if I could have a bike. I was very happy when he said “Sure, you can have any bike you want.” I wasn’t as happy when he added “All you have to do is get a job and earn enough to buy it.” I walked many miles for over a year on a paper route until I had enough money for a bike, and I took care of it when I got it. While other kids left theirs in the rain mine was always under cover and it lstil looked as good as new when I outgrew it.
There isn’t anything wrong with kids these days that can’t be fixed by teaching them the same lesson my father taught me. My kids learned that lesson and they’re doing fine.
June 28, 2012 at 19:40
Yes, you are so right! We are trying to do that too – make our children work to earn things they want instead of just handing them to them. My oldest had to work for almost a year to buy a Kindle – she appreciates it more than some of the things that were handed to her.
June 28, 2012 at 18:27
Shared this one on my Facebook. You summarize what I’ve noticed very well. A most recent example is with the case of the bullying incident of children to a older woman bus monitor.
June 28, 2012 at 19:38
Yes, so very true (and so very sad, the incident)……. I hope things change.
June 28, 2012 at 21:56
I think the parents are too fare away from where their children are … and don’t know how to bring them closer, too much pressure from work and in the relationship – so the gap between the kids and the parents just grow by the day.
June 28, 2012 at 23:24
Yes, it does seem to be happening… I hope I am not too out of touch… I think our lives (work, etc.) often causes us to be too detached.
June 28, 2012 at 23:14
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again — whatever are you worrying about turning 40. You have got it all together.
June 28, 2012 at 23:22
Thank you so much for the compliment! 🙂
June 29, 2012 at 14:50
I think some of the laws that have been put in place to protect children have also made things worse. I know of children that threaten their parents with reporting them to authorities for abuse that has not occurred to keep the parents from disciplining them. It is really a messed up world…
June 29, 2012 at 22:05
I have seen and experienced this too and find it to be so very sad.
June 29, 2012 at 15:55
You’re right about not being ‘friend’ with your children…They have friends….they need and want direction and limitations. We determined with our children the ‘friendship aspect would have to wait until they were much older…Diane
June 29, 2012 at 22:05
Yes, that is exactly how I feel.
Faith Girls Unleashed with Trudy Metzger
June 30, 2012 at 22:16
Coming from a very impoverished and harsh background, one of the hardest things for me has been raising children in materialistic North America. (Canadian side) I went from frustration to reality discipline, when they lacked appreciation, and am teaching them that it’s good to find a job, even at a young age, to save up for yourself. It’s important to put money away for school, but especially important to make money for ‘wants’. What we work for, we appreciate more. It’s a challenge in our world, so we do the best we can and pray… I’d rather be effective with my kids than popular with them. Can’t always have both.
June 30, 2012 at 23:52
Yes, me too! I get so frustrated at times. Like you said, I would rather be effective than popular – sometimes I do a better job than others. One thing that really bothers me is that my girls do not care at all if they ruin their “things” and we have to buy them something new. Just recently my youngest destroyed her mattress with no guilt or remorse (we were furious). We told he she is no longer getting the new bike she was saving for because the money now is going towards a new mattress… even then she did not seem to get it….. there is really little understanding of the value of working for things, or the value of taking care of their property…. so sad and so frustrating.
Faith Girls Unleashed with Trudy Metzger
July 1, 2012 at 01:28
I’ll try not to jump into ‘coaching’ mode too much here…. But I have a few thoughts/questions. How old are you kids? (approximately, as in under 10, over 10) And is it an option to assign tasks to ‘earn’ the mattress back? I’ve done this type of thing and it pays off. They may not get it now (if they’re 10 and under) but they will with time. I am so proud of my 17 & 16 year olds. They are *very* good with money and when they were younger I thought they’d never get it. Hang in there, it pays of. (Now we still have 3 others between 10 and 14 that we’re working on.) 🙂
July 1, 2012 at 22:23
Yes, that is exactly what we do in our home! Sometimes it works better than others! 🙂 My girls are 8.5 and 10.5 🙂
Faith Girls Unleashed with Trudy Metzger
July 1, 2012 at 22:45
The full reward will come! Hard work now, great harvest later! Happy parenting! 🙂
July 1, 2012 at 07:42
That’s is why I still believe in spanking. Spanking that comes out of love, to teach and to correct them when they are wrong. I learn it however, that better take a deep breath and take a few minutes (or longer) to cool off before I get to my kids to correct them, lest I do that with anger rather than with love. I learn as well, through some wise people that say: you can be angry to your child (out of right reasons) and correct them, but LOVE them and express this love even more than how many times you’re angry. I’m not saying I’m the wisest mom, but I learn and I know, when I show them samples of ‘learning of expressing love’ they’ll cherish and inherit that, too. I totally agree with you; not only parents nowadays (not all but many) want to be ‘friends’ to their kids rather than be parents and there they don’t show love at all.
Poverty and shame come to him who refuses discipline, but he who heeds correction shall be honored (and this means deep).
Have a great day!
July 1, 2012 at 22:20
There are some kids that I wonder if they need spanking… though I personally do not spank my children… and sometimes I wonder if that is what I do need to do… in fact, I even ask my girls about it from time to time – asking them if they need a spanking to stop or if they can find another way to change their behavior…… always an interesting argument and debate.
John Paul McNeil
July 1, 2012 at 19:49
This post struck a strong chord in me, for I have seen the same in today’s teens. I watch it with a kind of sad and despondent awe. It is awe-ful. You presented some very valid reasons, and openings for solutions. I would add another factor to the list. Cell phones/texting. Touted as tra-la-la “It’s a Small World After All”, it actually teaches distancing in REAL communication. Perhaps if you had texted the offending (and offensive) girls, they might have “listened”. But it is not real “listening, is it. My point exactly. Thank you 400days for your always meaningful/poignant posts. BTW, long-term psych studies are now coming out, about how all this cell/texting is changing brain chemistry/mapping….and not optimally. Of course, who defines “optimal”. Well, we do. How are we doing? Text a teen, and ask. Tra-la-la.
July 1, 2012 at 22:16
Yes, I agree with you completely! In fact, we talke about that this year at the school I work at… all the kids now play on their Iphones and Ipads, etc. during breaks and they seem to have forgotten how to interact with each other.
July 2, 2012 at 00:04
Keep at it! We are raising 3 kids with firm but fair boundaries, and importantly a foundational belief that other people are precious, and our actions must reflect that. I’d have to keep you posted on how it turns out, they are still a work in progress, but with 2 of them now in their teens, they are a real blessing to us and others around them. The difference between my kids and many others around them brings me comments on an almost weekly basis. Keep going with teaching them. You WILL reap the rewards.
July 2, 2012 at 18:59
Thank you so much!
July 3, 2012 at 21:14
Take heart. I have the esteemed honor of knowing a group of families (50+ kids!) whose parents have made it their priority to make their kids unusual, i.e., polite and respectful and usually (if not always) attentive and not texting while you talk to them. The girls dress modestly, and the boys will open doors for you. A majority of these families homeschool, and I feel very strongly that education is tending more and more to go in this direction. I am so proud of them and their efforts to prepare their youth for a challenging, crazy world.
July 5, 2012 at 20:42
Wow, I wish more families were doing this!
July 19, 2012 at 21:19
I completely agree with you. I’m 19 and my mother raised me to respect all other people, and so when I see younger kids acting so disrespectful I always have to wonder where the hell their parents are, or what the hell they’ve been doing.
Because, while I have a lot of nice things, I have worked so hard to get so much of it, and to some degree deserve the rest.
I was taught to know better than to be some snot-nosed little twit that can’t respect the people around me. Which makes me, even today, feel that it is so important to always treat others well, even if they don’t do the same to you.
So good on you.
July 20, 2012 at 12:36
Thank you so much!!!! 🙂
October 26, 2012 at 05:58
What you write about is very true. It is you the parents who are screwing up big time. Indeed it seems parents today don’t know how and when to set rules and boundaries, and what’s worse they blame the school system, the teachers, because no one today parent or children alike want to take responsibility for their actions. The blame seems to shift from parents to children and vice versa, and from parents to educators with no vice versa in sight.
October 26, 2012 at 23:17
You are so right….. sad, but true with the blame shifting…. when will we all learn???