As a mother of two teenaged children, it kills me to read or hear about the horrific crimes being committed by young kids, and also the lack of parenting these days. Parents no longer take responsibility for their children's actions.
Case in point: Two kids, 12 and 14 years old, were arrested and charged in the death of another 14-year-old girl. The girl was taunted, teased and aggressively bullied online for over a year by these two virtual assailants and 13 of their friends. She committed suicide, and the parents of the female assailant had one main statement: "That's a lie; my daughter is a good kid!"
What else is happening in our world? A teenager, unbeknownst to her parents, became pregnant, gave birth in secret, and then killed her baby so she wouldn't get in trouble. She carried the dead baby around in her backpack for several days. On a different end of the spectrum, a father of a high school football player filed bullying charges against another football team. The reason? Because the opposing team defeated his son's team by too many points.
A fast glance at the news, and you'll see that the list goes on and on. It sickens me. As a parenting expert, I'm often tapped to offer my thoughts on these issues, offering solutions on how parents can change how they relate to their kids and stop this madness. Let's be clear: this madness stems from the parents. Adults are in charge, and kids are kids.
"Let's just spank our kids!" If you've been following my writing, you know that I am not shy when combating the craziness of some parenting techniques. I make my opinions well-known on the effectiveness of corporal punishment, the so-called dangers of technology, and the ridiculous assertion that kids' behavior is the reason for all the problems in the world. In many of these discussions and interactions, I read or hear comments like: "These problems with kids today would stop if we could still beat their butts!" or, "Everyone got spanked when we were kids, and we didn't have these issues!" or my personal favorite, "Crime, childhood ADD and kids bullying each other got worse when they took away our right to whoop our kid's behinds when they needed it!"
There's a fundamental flaw in these statements, which goes beyond their obvious ridiculousness. The simple fact is, not every one us was spanked as a child. My father never hit me, and I respect him immensely. I also believe that his parents didn't hit him (or at least they never talked about it), and my father's family is filled with great people. So what gives? Are today's youths truly just uncontrollable demon spawn that could only be stopped by parents wielding the forbidden ancient switch of obedience?
When I was a teen helping to raise my siblings, and as a young new mother, I had many conversations about parenting, child-rearing and discipline with my grandmother and great-grandmother. I followed up with them recently and asked them about some of the issues parents are dealing with today, and what I learned was brilliant. I must share some of their thoughts:
"Yes! Of course we were allowed to spank our children, but my dear, so are you and all of your parent friends. Some of the problems I see are that young parents spank too quickly and too harshly. They do it for silly reasons and they do it so they can brag about it. It seems like it's more a method to control their children instead of teach them something. It makes me so sad to see that young parents believe that the only reason our generation had respectful children is because we paddled or spanked them. They seem to forget that there were hundreds of little things that our families did that had far more to with our children's good behavior than making them pick a switch, which we honestly, rarely had to do."
"What we did do and without thinking about it, were the simple things. We worked hard; everyone did. Whether at our paying job or around our home. We took pride in our work and we gave thanks for everything we had. We didn't pay our children to do housework, we gave them responsibilities from the time they were small. We showed them what doing hard work would provide them — a home, food, clothing, toys and fun things too, but as a reward for doing their part, not a payment for services rendered; and they always seemed very proud of themselves when they did work on their own. Then, when they were old enough (around 14 or 15) we took them out and found them a paying job of their own. When children are working, they don't have time to get into trouble. Children didn't cry about being bored, because there was always something to do." Keep Reading...
More parenting advice from YourTango: