Thursday, August 20, 2015

Thoughtful About . . . Kids These Days


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.

5 comments:

  1. Amen. And I falter as much as (if not more than) the average. Needed this. THANK you.

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    1. Quite welcome. =) I need to work more on the money/want/need thing myself...

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  2. An excellent post. I have lived long enough to see at least five generations: my grandparents who were born in the late 1890s to 1900, my parents born around the 1920s, my generation born in the late 40s, my children from the late 60s and early 70s, and my grandkids born in the 2000s. I have seen many changes in my time and I have seen good and bad in every generation. I don't want to go back to the 50s when I was growing up but I can see plenty that needs to improve in these present days. Frankly, I watch my son and his wife raising their boys and wonder how that got so good at this thing of child-rearing. They aren't perfect but I see them handling things better than my forebears and better than my wife and I handled them. Then I see what's happening in the world around us and only hope and pray that my grandsons will have a world left where they can raise their children in a free country when they grow up and get married. The times will keep changing and not likely for the better.

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  3. Great blog - I love your passion! Let me start off by saying I love your writing. Your books are intelligent,thought provoking and inspiring. A Soft breathe of Wind being one of my favorite books - great characters, great story and I love Zipporah's spiritual gift. Keep writing, never stop, your books make a positive difference in a sometimes rather confused world. I think the reason this particular blog post resonates with me is simply because I've had the privilege of spending the past twenty plus years working with children, and I feel very blessed to have learned a lot during that time. I think you're very insightful to realize that as parents we do want to give our children more. We want to give them more choices and more opportunities, but where should we draw the line? Definitely somewhere short of watching our child sit sobbing in a room filled with toys they have barely played with because they just found out through Facetime or imessage their friend just got back from the mall with the latest and greatest advancement in toy technology. Puzzling, but I've seen this firsthand - it happens more often than you think, and to parents with the best of intentions. Your Tom Sawyer reference is great too, and I agree wholeheartedly that "a society doesn't rot in one generation", but I'd like to add one more thing if I may. In the past twenty years I've seen a definite shift in how parents perceive their roles in their children's lives. I've been led to believe that as parents the Lord has placed us in a position where we are to guide our children in the direction they should go through providing a good example in the way we live and treat others, which gives them stability and teaches them how to have healthy, trusting relationships with others. What I'm finding is that many people have decided to leave the Lord out of the child raising equation and when we leave the greatest Father of all out of the equation, and things just don't add up properly. Quite often the same parents that want to forget about God when it comes to raising their children want to forget that their children are children and treat them as if they are small adults with the maturity to make complicated decisions. This just isn't the case. Children look to the adults they trust to provide guidance and when those adults fail them they feel confused and disoriented. I'm all for letting children make choices, that's how they learn, but when those choices involve treating another person with disrespect because they just don't feel like being nice and they aren't held accountable that's not okay. Accountability is something our culture is sorely lacking lately and we just have to look as far as the Ashley Madison website fiasco to see where I'm going with this. Being kind and accountable for how we treat others, realizing when we cyber bully someone else even if we are not discovered we're accountable to God, and our behavior matters. I guess what I'm saying is simply this: when we want to have things add up the right way when it comes to our kids and the future of our society we can't leave the best part out of the equation. The Lord created us, let's look to Him for the guidance and example on how to raise our children into the best possible adults, but that's just another opinion thrown into the great debate. Much love in Christ, Barb :)

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    1. Absolutely right, Barb!!! And I can't agree more that it's downright scary where parenting has gone for so many. I raise my kids with those good old-fashioned values, without question. And it's because my mom raised me that way, as hers did her. Certainly in matters of morals--it's just a matter of drawing the line, as you point out, between "more"=opportunity and faith and "more" just equalizing THINGS. We are such a culture of THINGS...and it leads us to treat people like things too.

      Thanks so much for commenting!

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