Spare the rod?

Let me start by saying, I am in no way endorsing abuse, nor “beating”.  I am also not getting biblical, the title is simply a turn of phrase.

No, what is on my mind today is the state of “our” children.

I myself don’t really have much interaction with yoofs nowadays, as my own child is an adult now. And I work with senior citizens, so my personal impression is based on what I see in public and read in the news.  However, both the Mrs.  and our daughter are (private) school teachers, so I get a LOT of second-hand information from them as well.

And from my perspective, things are not looking good.  Aside from the crazy stuff making national headlines – 14 year-olds car jacking, high school house parties turning into shooting galleries and all sorts of tragic and sordid stuff – it appears that the majority of “regular” kids are turning into disrespectful, surly a**holes.

Tell ’em George!

From what my “sources” tell me, the Covid lockdown BS put the social development of the younger kids behind by (at least) two years.  In other words, kids starting kindergarten this year had the development level of a 3 year-old.  Fifth grade kids act like 3rd graders, etc. 

Clearly, whether you agree with what happened vis-a-vis lockdowns during those years or not, it had a substantial impact on the little varmints.

But I don’t think that’s the cause of the current state of affairs with the kids.  I lay the blame SQUARELY on the shoulders of the parents.

Yep, seen it with my own eyes…

I recognize that parenting has changed a lot over the last several decades, and in some ways it has changed for the better.  But in MOST ways, it’s not better, it is far worse.

When I was growing up, everybody knew somebody that had a “cool” mom and/or dad.  The parents that let all the neighborhood kids hang out, maybe they would tell an off-color joke every now and again or maybe they liked the same or similar music… whatever.  There are variations on the theme.  BUT, no matter how “cool” these parents were, they were still -first and foremost- PARENTS.

“Cool Parents” circa 1975

But somewhere along the line – I’m guessing late 80’s/early 90’s – most parents decided it was a better method to be “friends” with their children instead of parents.

Don’t get me wrong, I certainly have a friendly relationship with my daughter and I love her dearly,  but there were absolutely “because I’m the parent,  that’s why!” moments during her childhood. Her mother, the Mrs., has an even closer, friendlier relationship with our daughter and she had to step up and “put her foot down” even more than I.

And the results of all that “harsh” parenting we did?  Well, our kid has never been arrested, never got knocked up, graduated high school and college, has no tattoos or weird piercings, has been steadily employed since high school graduation, has excellent references, a good reputation amongst her colleagues, a solid, long-term relationship, savings in the bank and a high credit score.  Above all, she’s a nice, caring person. And she still comes by twice a week to have dinner with us!

I’m not saying this to brag.  Frankly, I’m astonished that she turned out so well.  My wife and I both struck out on our own early in life, both of us living on our own by the age of 19.  Neither of us finished college.  Neither of us had strong role models in regards to parenting.   To be fair, I had some, but not a lot of parental inspiration.  The Mrs. was not so fortunate.  She was lucky to make it out of her childhood alive.  So when it came to parenting (at the ripe old age of 23), we “didn’t know shit from Shine-ola” as the saying goes.

But we COMMITTED to being good parents.  We watched, we learned, we got involved.  We read to our child.  We limited (severely!) her TV intake.  When she got older and computers were becoming “a thing” in everyone’s home, her time on them was limited and we were very strict on what games she could play.  My wife and I were both active in our kid’s school, we coached soccer, went on field trips.  I never missed a single piano recital.  (I did miss one soccer game, over about 12 seasons of the game, but I was also at every practice for YEARS.)  When she needed something, we’d do without to make it happen if we had to.

Were we perfect? Not even close.  Not by a long shot.  But we cared and we tried.  Really, really tried.   And it paid off.

The parents of young children I see out and about these days may be well-intentioned, but they are doing a disservice by being overly permissive. 

When I see a little kid being pushed around a grocery store in a cart, and they’ve got their face in an iPhone, it makes me cringe.  And it makes me sad, honestly. I used to have all kinds of conversations with our daughter while trucking through the grocery store and I look back on those days fondly. Whether it was how food grows, to where meat comes from, to economics, or the difference between a refrigerator and a freezer… whatever was on her mind at the time, those grocery shopping days were valued “one on one” time with the kid.

When I see a kid out of control in a public space, and the parent is trying to “negotiate” with the kid to get them to act civilized, I want to kick that parent in the pants. Everyone knows you don’t negotiate with a terrorist.

The self absorption and narcissism of kids these days is abhorrent, but who can blame them when they’ve had no direction or authority in their young lives?

Contrary to popular opinion, children not only need, but actually desire authority and structure. The less they have of it, the more they lash out.

Yes, by all means, use this time to take a pic and post a meme, rather than disciplining the kid…

Kids can find friends anywhere, but they only get one set of parents (generally speaking), so as the parent you need to embrace that role. It isn’t easy, and yes it may cause some disturbances especially early on, but if you think a six year old can get out of control, just wait til they’re sixteen if left unchecked!

But if you teach them when they’re young, you’ll have that opportunity to be “friends” when they’ve matured and know how to be a decent human.

And as I mentioned, this is not advocating violence or abuse. You can be authoritive without being violent or abusive, you just need to be firm in your stance, be direct and above all, be honest with them. It ain’t rocket science, but it’s much more important !

Anyhow, that just my 2 cents on the subject…

Thanks for reading!

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