What is it with kids today? They have no respect for adults. They wear their hair too long. All they want to do is hang out with their friends and chat on the computer. They wear weird clothes and have no drive or direction in life. This is certainly on a lot of parents lips, or Facebook pages, these days. It was also on most of our parents lips when we were kids (jeez am I glad my mom didn't have Facebook back then). OK, except for the computer thing, then it was talking on the phone for hours at a time. C'mon, you can't tell me you don't remember your parents saying exactly the same things to you, about you, about your friends and on and on.
So, are kids really more disrespectful today? Living in Sweden now, there is a difference with how the younger generation views their elders. Sweden seems a lot more laid back in terms of generational deference than what I remember growing up. Though I have to say, some of it is troubling, it is also a very different world today than when I was growing up. Times change, the world is a scarier place for our little ones. Also, aren't we the ones who teach our kids about respect? When did discipline become a bad word? When did setting boundaries become something others need to do for their kids, but we don't ever say no to our own? I'm not talking about spanking, or other forms of corporal punishment. In Sweden it is actually against the law for parents to hit their children. I'm talking about teaching our kids right from wrong, and teaching them respect for others.
Now, I get frustrated too when I see 'other peoples kids' misbehaving and not giving a damn, but I can't let that change the way I want to raise my own. I want my kids to be productive little humans when they get older, and I feel like this is the best path to achieve that. Most importantly however, I want them to be kind, caring individuals. My oldest has a problem with sitting still. To many parents he seems like the ultimate spoiled brat who is never told no. But a closer look shows a boy with a heart of gold. He doesn't pick on other children, he plays and shares with others, he is kind to those who are smaller, and for the most part is very respectful to grownups.
I always vowed when I was not a kid anymore, but before I had kids of my own, to not forget what it was like to be a kid. One of my friends mothers told her, when she was 16, you don't have any problems, you don't know what problems are. I promised myself that day to never say that to my children. The reasons things our kids are dealing with seem trivial to us is because we have grown and matured, hopefully. We have learned to handle the things that to a 16 year old seem like the most important things in the world. 16 year old's lives revolve around being liked, accepted, having boy or girlfriends, hanging out, socializing. And when this world is off kilter, it IS a big deal. Now if you are a parent struggling to pay your mortgage, they may seem trivial, but the 16 year old only can feel what they know. I think it is the same for kids of all ages. My four year old's most pressing issue is playing nicely with others at school. When this doesn't happen, it IS the end of the world, to her. When my 7 year old tells me he is having a tough time with a bully at school, I need to treat this with the same regard as when I feel low because I can't find a job, because to him, it is the same thing. When my oldest has a tough time with his teacher in school, I need to discuss it with him, and not just write it off as a 9 year old thing. He is 9, so that is his life.
Kids aren't perfect. Yes we would like them to be. Yes we want them to listen and obey at the first mention of our commands, but that isn't the way their little brains are wired. Now I am not trying to preach. I lose my temper and raise my voice more often than I would like, but I also apologize and try to explain to them that parents are human and we make mistakes. I treat the with respect. Believe it or not, even their child wired brains understand this, and are happy to see us admit to our frailties.
I have a motto when it comes to my child raising. 'Being a parent is the easiest job in the world. Being a good one is the toughest.' It simply means that we can let TV and others raise our kids. We can blame society for allowing our children to run wild. That's easy. If we let them watch programs on TV that show disrespect, if we disrespect others, whether they are close to us, or not, then what will they learn? If we take time to be with them. Take an interest in what they watch on TV because HELL yes, we all need breaks from the responsibility, but not at the cost of letting strangers on the tube detract from what we are trying to do. That is hard, but it is also necessary to help guide our little ones in the direction of respect.
There is a scene in the movie Parenthood where Steve Martins character is at a school play when his youngest goes on to the stage to 'protect' his sister. He ends up ruining the entire set and while some people are laughing, some are screaming at him and his wife, he feels like he is on a roller coaster, which at first he doesn't like. Then he sees his wife laughing when suddenly he realizes roller coasters are fun! He starts laughing too and the scene ends. Yes, raising kids is hard. Yes, we will get annoyed at the disrespect we view from kids, but life is not meant to be ridden like a merry go round on the stationary horse, the roller coaster, for all of it ups and downs, is much more fun. As for the other kids, there isn't much we can do, but for our, the buck stops here. We are the ones who need to make sure our kids don't act that way. Now if every parent did this, well then I guess I wouldn't have had a blog topic today.
So stop worrying about the kids clothes. Don't stress if your kid want's to wear their hair long. You want them to be respectful? Show them that love and respect go hand in hand. After all, our parents said the same things about us, and from what I see, we turned out all right. So, to paraphrase Roger, Pete, John and Keith 'The kids are all right...the kids are all right...'