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Monday, September 22, 2014

Why parents these days aren't teaching their kids responsibility

Surely you have seen this before.


A very intelligent (and childless) friend of mine posted it on Facebook the other day, with the comment: "The real problem is that nobody understands chronology. The child of the 60s raised the child of the 80s who grew to be the parents of today."

The truth of this hit me really hard because lately I've been consciously struggling with my parenting techniques, many of which, I've discovered, are still leftover pushbacks from when I was a child. You see, I remember being a kid, and while I never thought I had a bad childhood, there was one thing I never ever had (in my child-opinion). A voice. A right to bring my position to a conversation and have it be heard as if it had any merit at all. What my mother said is what happened, and we never fought that. She'd managed to magically rig the parenting life so that it was an expected and non-negotiable item.

I'd always hated that.

But until becoming a parent, I'd never known how much.

Let's take it back a second.

My mom grew up in a huge family in the 1960s in the inner city. She was the second oldest of twelve kids, and the oldest girl. As such, her mother had no time for that shit, and my mother had to take on the duties of mothering about six of the kids while my grandmother mothered the other six. The kids had very little supervision, because for serious, with twelve kids you do not have time. My mom was the supervisor, the protector, the doer of the things. Starting at, like, age 7.

Having gone through that, she had her own pushback when I was born, followed by my brother and sister. I was never asked to be their caretaker, she made extra sure I had free time and could be my own person, be a kid. We had lots of responsibilities still. Like all the chores and stuff you would expect a child of the 80s to be doing. But she was never like, "go take your brother and sister to the pool, be back by six, and don't get killed."

In fact, having had to do that herself at age 9, she was super-duper against it. She knew firsthand that the world was bullshit for little kids trying to get by without getting harassed, beaten up, or bothered. I was hardly allowed out at all unless there was ADULT ADULT supervision. She didn't want me to go through what she had had to go through. She didn't want me to have to have the responsibility of keeping little people safe when I was still little myself.

I just thought she was a mean old doodoo pants.

And my mother's style was that her word was final. The end. Done. No more. No arguing. And I just accepted that. But I hated it. So that, yes, if my grades were bad (which they never were, because my mom made it clear that was unacceptable), she would have come to me and we would have worked on the problem from that end. And as a kid, I would have felt bullied, pushed, as if it were unfair, because that would have been coupled with NO ONE LISTENING TO ME EVER, so that whatever explanation I had meant nothing.

Cue present day. I personally have six year olds, so we're not at the bad-grades-teacher-showdown part of life yet. But I can completely understand the parents who are, and I can see, now, why they are lashing out at the school system instead of working with their kids to improve work-ethic, understanding and responsibility.

Perhaps, like me, they felt AS A CHILD unfairly treated, not listened to, bossed around, and insignificant. They probably AS A CHILD thought they had a pretty good head on their shoulders, and really wished someone would just pay attention to them one time because they had some pretty good thoughts, feelings and explanations for the world.

So that when their own children come home bearing bad grades, perhaps, I mean, just maybe, there's an old memory that dislodges of a time when there was a legitimate reason for a bad grade on their part and no one gave two shits, and they were unfairly treated just because they were a child against the system. And maybe, without fully knowing it, the parents of today give the credibility they had as children to their children now, whether or not it's deserved. And maybe they don't ever want their kids to feel like they don't have anything worthwhile to contribute, that they can't fight an institutionalized system if its unfair, or that they have to take what is given and will always be at fault just because they're kids. (I mean, maybe, since no one ever thinks of these things, the parents haven't actually upgraded their thoughts about the matter, so maybe, just maybe, they're still coming at it from the point of view of an eighth grader and don't even realize it.)

So, in an over-compensation meant to avenge the child they once were, parents today lash out at the system they think treated them so unkindly, so unfairly. And the children of today don't understand the battle on which this system-attack is based. And therefore, the children of today simply feel entitled to good grades or whatever, just for existing...all due to overcompensation on our part, which stems from overcompensation on our parents' parts, which probably stems from overcompensation on their parents' parts.

And maybe we're all just trying to do the best we can.







2 comments:

  1. Yep. The happy medium is hard to find.

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