Pardon this detour into social commentary, but I had this discussion with a close friend over a glass of wine the other night… I’m not sure how it started, but we brainstormed for a generous amount of time and came up with “a lack of community” and “dissolving legal system” as our only answers.
Before I delve too deep, please recall your high school years… for those of us breaching our 30’s and above. Where you went to a party that was certainly NOT sanctioned by any school or organization. Someone showed up with a half consumed bottle of something never meant to be anything but a mixer but you drank from the bottle anyway (like sambuca), and another few friends with a half-tapped keg from their older sibling, or some cases of beer from their garage. When you were busted, either at the party or nursing the “sudden onset of the flu” the next day, your parents were not sympathetic to your case. No one sided with you, or your friend- whether you were sober or not. Parents joined forces to come up with a valid punishment: mowing the lawns of each house, painting the fence, washing the cars (all of them) every weekend for the summer. Punishments of physical labor, often expanding over several weekends. We didn’t get to wear t-shirts that embarrassed us in the halls of school, we worked (call it community service) to pay our debt back. Our lack of responsibility.
So what is going on these days?
I read THIS piece, and thought what an exploitation of your children. NOT by Brian Holloway, but by the parents. Using their children to make the almighty dollar. That’s what this is right? Kids should not be called out, embarrassed by their behavior (or their parents by it, either)- because that’s not fair. And, if this “happens” to your child, you can sue and make money off it. Right? Obviously that’s the lesson you want to teach your child…
Let me explain what “happens” to people. Life. When you act out against social mores and break the law (several, in fact), nothing happened to you except you. Surely if children repeatedly did wrong things as a toddler (ate the dog’s food, threw food, bit your arm), they would be reprimanded. There is precedence shown in legal briefs why action must be taken. As much as redirecting is all the rage now, does this inhibit a child’s development into a teenager and thus adult. Is there never a consequence for their action that teaches them to repay a debt, to feel sorry for what they did? While the idea of shaming teenagers doesn’t warm the cockles of my heart, the thought of kids coming in my house, tearing it apart, documenting it publicly and feeling little remorse triggers that all-t00-familiar epigram: that’s what’s wrong with society. There is no ONE thing wrong with our society, but if you can stop the downfall in some places, like raising people’s awareness regarding their actions, than we are making a difference. Raising the future to hold responsibility, upstanding morals and pride in who they are and their own upbringing.
Then there was an article in the Providence Journal. A teen wrote in regarding a party thrown without the parents home, and what to do about it. At the end of the response a short sentence about how the party could have taken everything away from them. I nodded in agreement. I was angry that a child did that to his parents, and at the same time, for the parents not explaining what a house party means anymore. It’s not a slap on the wrist or all the neighborhood parents banding together to get free landscaping and clean cars for a whole semester, it’s class action lawsuits that take all properties (homes, cars, boats) and accounts (college funds, savings accounts, liquid assets). It’s parents versus parents, in a battle of who can coddle the best. Community service for the child who misbehaved and threw a party lands on the whole family- siblings left with no school money, parents left unable to retire- you get it.
Money doesn’t come to you because you did something wrong, or even because someone else did something wrong. Money comes from working hard. Lawsuits are sacred and for things that need reconciliation beyond words and insurance. We abuse the system, the system abuses insurances, and thus we, the consumers, are punished. Why can’t we just be redirected? (HA!)
If this generation coming up is the Cupcake Generation, I would not want to be an actual cupcake by comparison. I don’t know if we can “save” the kids brought up like this already, but I know we parents can make a change now- raise children who are both loved and protected, while knowing the difference between right and wrong and a good consequence for the latter (no, I don’t mean a physical punishment).