Kids These Days

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I read an article on MSNBC about children called, Today’s tykes: Secure kids or rudest in history? a very interesting read.

The article discusses Generation X (those born between 1965 and 1977) and Generation Y (those born between 1980 and 1996) and how our lifestyles, parenting styles and children themselves have changed over time.

I know as a parent it’s hard to decide which ideology to subscribe to, whether to spank or to put your child in time out, whether to have your kids calendar filled with activities or let them play outside with neighborhood kids, to allow them to have a cell phone or not to, it’s inevitable that there’s gonna be a misstep or two.

This article takes a closer look, a psychological one to try to explain what’s set this change in motion:

“Many researchers consider members of Generation X to have been among the least nurtured children in American history with half coming from split families, 40 percent raised as latchkey kids — literally, home alone.

‘They are trying to heal the wounds from their own childhoods through their children,’ says Dr. Michael Brody, a child psychiatrist and chair of the Television and Media Committee of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

In indulging their children’s moods, Brody argues, some parents may be trying to protect their children from experiencing the kind of anxiety and neglect that they themselves suffered as youngsters.”

They’re talking about the shift in discipline, the fact that children are often not held accountable for their behavior, regardless of how appalling.

As I grew up and as an adult now, I’ve seen this gradual change, of course there’s the usual scapegoats, video games and television, but I’ll tell you something. Your children should know the difference between television and real life.

Our children are seeing things in their childhood that we never saw in ours, the news showers us with bad news and horrific tales of crime constantly, this is all true. But it is our job as parents not to let television and popular culture teach our children about the world and how to behave in it, it’s our job. OURS.

Your children need more education than they get at school, they get educated intellectually there, but it’s your job as a parent to teach them about the real world and how they’re expected to behave in it, you know “street smarts”. Or have we forgotten that term?

If you don’t teach them and you fail to bring the real world to their doorstep, it is you that will pay the price. When your child can’t keep a job, won’t keep a job or worse, has no intention of ever working because he has parents that pay his way – you will understand far too late the consequences of not providing them with consequences for bad behavior.

The article goes on to describe the future..

What does this mean for their future as adults? We may be starting to see some of the effects in Generation Y, those born between 1980 and 1996, whose self-centered — if not downright arrogant — workplace behavior has been well-documented in the popular press since the mid-2000s.

“They’ve grown up questioning their parents, and now they’re questioning their employers. They don’t know how to shut up, which is great, but that’s aggravating to the 50-year-old manager who says, ‘Do it and do it now,’ ” says Jordan Kaplan, an associate managerial science professor at Long Island University-Brooklyn in New York, in a USA Today article.

As for today’s little kids? “No one will want to hire them,” says Brody. That’s not an encouraging thought, especially in these economic times.

Generation Y has already been in the workforce for 10+ years, while I have seen the bad attitudes and refusal to accept work life for what it is, necessary and not fun. To those parents still struggling with what to do, I recommend “The New Dare to Discipline”. I read the original Dare to Discipline in paperback when my son was about 4 or 5, and another book, “The New Strong-Willed Child“, I read “Parenting the Strong Willed Child” at the same time I read “Dare to Discipline” and it gave me new tools to use, which I desperately needed. At the time I was a single mom, overcompensating for what I felt I lacked with my son, which was leading me straight down the path to having a child that had absolutely no respect for himself or anyone else and I had to do something.

These books were in perfect time for me, I felt they both gave reasonable tools for discipline, made a lot of good common sense, and worked in practice with my son very well. At 11, he’s a good kid and aside from little things here and there that truly can be attributed to boys being boys (window broken and occasional bad grades) all his friends’ parents like him. For my son, the rules are simple and few, but they must be followed.

No rules is a bad thing, too many rules is a bad thing, but rules that make sense for your child and lead them down the path to productive adulthood are necessary. Kids need consistency and accountability, it’s what shapes their drive and self discipline later in life. It is your job to turn your child into a productive citizen of the world.

There is a little hope though…

Economic climate does seem to have an effect on manners. Indeed, some experts believe that trend of rudeness among kids first emerged with the rise of Wall Street and its culture of entitlement in the mid-1980s, which is when Generation X began having children. It has been building since then, they say. But today’s downturn may inspire renewed prudence.

“I think that people who lose their wealth, their jobs, and other emblems of success that gave them a mindless assurance about their social status — plus with the new standards in the White House — may examine their values more seriously,” predicts pediatrician Gordon. “It will be less easy to fob off your inner questions by purchasing an expensive education, summer camp or horseback riding classes.”

It may also be easier if Gen X parents start implementing the popular campaign that they grew up with themselves: “Just say ‘No.’ ”

What do you think?


2 thoughts on “Kids These Days

  1. This was a very thoughtful post. I think that the main problems are lack of accountability mixed with the false notion of entitlement. In the current economic crisis, people are getting a wake-up call. A slap in the face, if you will to reality.

  2. I wholeheartedly agree, and will take it one step further. It really does “take a village” to raise a child these days. You have to know that your kids are surrounded with people who love them and care about how they grow up. I am so lucky to have both sets of grandparents living close by so my kids can have this village. You have to instill discipline in a child, respect, pride (but not a huge ego), honor and decency. Today’s media simply doesn’t help with that. I remember cartoons (He-Man, She-Ra) that taught these values…but they don’t have anything like that today. It truly is left up to that child’s parents to teach these things. And rightly so. Your parents are the most influential people in your life, good or bad. Also, the Dare to Discipline and Strong-Willed Child books are awesome! They so helped me through Nate’s toddler-hood and now are helping me through his childhood. Go James Dobson!

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