I don't often feel the need to take on Facebook memes. Especially not ones posted by people I actually like. And whose bottom line I can agree with. But I read one yesterday that really got my blood up. It said:
"Back in the old days we came home from school & did our homework, no game playing. We took our school clothes off when we got home & did not go outside & play in them! We didn't sit & listen to grownups talk, we left the room until company left. We ate what was cooked or nothing @ all! When told to do something, we did it!!! We didn't say I will do it later. I am thankful for the old days because it made me the person I am today.... Re post if you agree back in the old days was something America should of stuck to for raising kids."
I'm still mad when I read this. Not because I don't agree that America has lost its way, and not because I don't fear how many kids are being raised today. And not even because the grammar in that meme makes me question that claim about always having done one's homework (should of--really? I wasn't aware that 'of' was a verb...).
But because if you were raised so well, what happened? Didn't you raise your kids the same way? Didn't they then raise their kids that way? And so on? If so, then why did things change?
Why? I'll tell you. Because it's not about the things parents don't teach their kids today, that you were taught. It's about the things parents still teach their kids, just like you were taught.
It's not that you were told, "Eat this or don't eat." It's that you were raised thinking, "I don't want potatoes again. When I grow up, I want more. I want choices." You told your kids, "You're so lucky--I only had one pair of good shoes. Look how many you have! Look how hard I worked to give you something better!" And your kids grew up thinking, "My parents wanted better--I want better too. I want more. I'm going to work hard and make even more money. So I can give my kids even more opportunities." And those kids now rush to ten different extra-curricular activities in their family with three cars, and pairs of shoes get lost and not noticed, and pantries are burgeoning with junk food.
And it's not because one day a generation stood up and decided, "You know what? My grandparents were fools, and I think now's a great time to destroy American society."
It changed because every generation that is given something wants more. It's because our constant quest to give our children better means they don't appreciate what they have. It's because it starts with a generation that's just trying to survive...and then to be comfortable...and then to have a little extra...and spirals out of control.
And too, it's because you're looking at the past through those proverbial rose-colored glasses. You say you always did what you were told. I say, "Tom Sawyer." He's even from generations before, and he made a career of goofing off and putting off chores. You really mean to tell me you never did? Are you aware that the word "hooky" dates from 1848? I call bullcrap. You were a kid. Kids are kids. Kids have always been kids. They ditch chores. They test limits. They forget about obligations in the face of the promise of fun. Maybe some learn that the consequences aren't worth it--but that rests on the parents. So what did you do with your kids?
This is not something new, this tendency. You can see it in literature hundreds of years old. Especially in literature dealing with the spoiled upper classes.
That's what America has become--spoiled. And it isn't the kids who are spoiling themselves--so who should we really blame? Why are you musing about when you were a kid...instead of when you were a parent with young kids?
A society doesn't rot in one generation. It takes, so history tells us, three. Three generations of shifting morals. That means it started with those who are posting these memes, or even with their parents. Please don't blame it all on my generation. We have plenty of faults, sure! And I certainly don't agree with the prevailing mindset of many of those my age. But we're not all like that. And do you know why?
It's because I didn't leave the room when the grownups were talking. I listened to them. And I learned. I learned how things change. I learned how they shouldn't. I learned what I needed to do to make sure my kids grow up knowing what is right and wrong--and what I need not to do.
I learned it's not just enough to say, "No. You can't have that. We can't afford it. When you grow up and get a job, you can buy that yourself." We have to instead say, "No. We don't need that. We can spend that money helping someone instead. When you grow up, you can do even more good."
It's not enough to say, "Back in my day, we didn't have this problem." Instead, we need to say, "When you grow up, you'll be facing a new set of problems like this. How do you think you should handle it?"
It's not enough to say, "We used to respect our elders." True respect isn't just given, it's earned. I respect my elders. But I'm also doing my best to make sure my kids respect me.
Don't whine about "kids these days." Don't say, "we used to do it this way." It's the way it was once done that led to the way it's being done now. We don't change it by following the pattern.
We change it by breaking it.