Monday, November 28, 2005

Parents gone wild...

Interesting article in yesterday's NY Times - Kids Gone Wild. It is a glipse of the problem of bad behavior among today's kids. As a parent, I am obviously interested in this topic. I often stuggle with how to raise my son to be polite, quiet, well-behaved, and respectful - when those traits seem to have flown out the window for this generation.

I think that this article overall makes an excellent point:
But what seems to have changed recently, according to childrearing experts, is parental behavior - particularly among the most status-conscious and ambitious - along with the kinds of behavior parents expect from their kids. The pressure to do well is up. The demand to do good is down, way down, particularly if it's the kind of do-gooding that doesn't show up on a college application.

It's scary - from my perspective - but undoubtably true that much of the behavior problems of children these days stems from parental behavior. Although it's not as fun to have to blame yourself for a problem instead of blaming the kids.
Most parents ... would like their children to be polite, considerate and well behaved. But they're too tired, worn down by work and personally needy to take up the task of teaching them proper behavior at home.

I like the way that is phrased - "task of teaching." The fact of the matter is it's work to teach proper behavior to a two-year-old. And so often, I find myself after a long day of work, and then night classes not wanting to "work" anymore at home - so it's easier just to be permissive...but what is easy is not always (or even often) what is best.

The article concludes:

If stress and strain, self-centeredness and competition are the pathogens underlying the rash of rudeness perceived to be endemic among children in America today, then the cure, some experts said, has to be systemic and not topical. Stop blaming the children, they said. Stop focusing on the surface level of behavior and start curing instead the social, educational and parental ills that feed it.

This may mean less "quality" time with children and more time getting them to do things they don't want to do, like sitting for meals, making polite conversation and ... picking their clothes up off the floor.

I think this is true. In order to raise disciplined kids, you yourself have to have the discipline as a parent to accept the task - the work - and see it out. :Sigh: Nothing comes easy, does it?

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