I'm not sure if i look at things differently because I've never raised my own kids. I've spent a lot of time raising other peoples kids. I signed off on my son when he was three years old. With all that considered, I don't think i count as anything close to a parenting expert. However I can't help but wonder what has happened to parenting these days. I've seen quite a few atrocities and sat there and wondered how a parent could get to that level. Let me give you a few examples of what I've seen just in the last week, and then I'll break down what I think the cause is and what I think could be done to help shape a better generation.
I was grocery shopping in wal-mart a few days ago. With all the directions and arrows to try and control the flow of people to account for social distancing it was an interesting experience. Mostly because for some reason most americans think the arrows on the floor and the vertical signs at the end of each isle doesn't apply to them. At any rate, I got stuck walking the rows of food behind a woman with an excitable toddler that was constantly trying to grab and look at everything. You would think someone with a toddler like that would try to keep the cart in the middle of the isle and all the food towards the front of the cart. Sadly this woman wasn't that intelligent. The child kept grabbing things off the shelf and throwing them in the cart and giggling like it was a game. The poor woman was getting so frustrated. I decided to open my mouth and suggest she keep her cart in the middle of the isle, it would save her some headaches and probably help calm the toddler down. Of course she didn't want to hear it and promptly told me off. Thank the gods I work in customer service so my feelings don't get bothered any. When we finally got to where there was room I went around her and kept going. I passed her again later on, and she was screaming at her kid and throwing things in the kids face. She then pulled the kid out of the cart and started wacking his behind and screaming loud enough for the whole store to hear. At least the manager and staff were a quick response. I got the gossip when I got to work as a sandwich artist the next day. The woman never got her groceries and had to deal with the police and social services.
A girl I work with recently had her kids taken away for negligence. She is court ordered to pay child support to her parents that have custody, and she gets visitation once a week for six hours. She decided to complain at work that her boyfriend was a total asshole. She was thinking of breaking up with him because he refused to leave work to give her a ride to visitation. She was so pissed that she missed visitation again this week (I think the last time she made visitation was about three months ago). Just to show a point of reference, her parents know she doesn't have a car. They arrange visitation to start at a park that is only a block and a half from her house. Part of the visitation is that the parents take everyone out for supper, and plan on giving their daughter a ride home after. Seriously, all you have to do is walk 500 feet to visit your child. How the hell is that too much work for a parent to endure?
The last thing i always see way to many times to count on a weekly bases, toddlers with smart phones and tablets. Every where I go, whether it's a friends or relatives house, the babies and toddlers all have technology in their faces. The kids have these devices, and the parents are engrossed in the tv, personal phone, computer, or video games. How can a person ignore their child like that?
Sadly i must say, I feel this problem started with my generation. A lot of people raised in the late 70's and early 80's seemed to miss a lot in the moderation and proper parenting education. A lot of us were raised to be rebels and activists. I can't deny that when I became a teenage goth with a megaphone and crying out for gay rights in wisconsin that it was a blast. Sadly most of the people I grew up with were raised the same way, but they didn't have a cause to fight for. As americans at this point we pretty much had everything. Now about this time, america had these lovely tv shows that were educational for grade school and younger. When my generation started having kids we were encouraged to engulf our children in them by pediatricians and the media. So why not trust these people and stick the kids in front of the tv for hours a day. We can't take them outside to play because they still have to watch sesemi street and telitubbies yet. We started failing the next generation right there.
So now we have hit the point were our kids have been having kids, and for some of us our grandkids are in their late teens. The big difference now, is that tv no longer exists. it's all youtube, podcast, streamers and the like. Not to mention all the "educational" games that can be downloaded to phones and tablets. We have taught our kids that this is the proper way to raise a kid. We have taught them that a parent is not responsible for their child. We have taught them that it is media and the school system that are supposed to do everything. All they know how to do is pop out a kid and hand it over to the system. Now don't get me wrong, i know there is a lot of good parents out there yet. But they are getting fewer and fewer. It just scares me to see that my niece at 6 years old has her own facebook, snapchat, instagram, and twitter. And now she is begging for her own phone so she can talk to her classmates since she can't see them in school anymore. Does anyone else see the problem with this, when we have raised our own kids to give their kids devices and walk away?
I know there are more problems then just technology, but with the younger crowd getting more and more disconnected these days it's scary. I have a coworker that is a 19 year old snowflake. you even mention the word diversity, or different then what he understand and he has to leave work because of panic attacks. Heaven forbid what happens when he has to deal with an aggressive customer. Two weeks ago he disappeared and I couldn't find him. Come to find out he hid in the freezer in a panic attack and he cried enough to actually freeze his pants to the floor. The kid couldn't figure out how to get out, so he decided to just sit there for over an hour playing candy crush. How the hell have we managed to fail the younger generations so bad. As parents all we had to do was make the choices to teach our children to be better adults then we are.
Sadly there is no easy fix for this. I really do believe the most effective would be for us older folks to just get out there and teach our kids, friends, and families how to interact with others and their own children. Show them how to take kids on a play date and how to experience things outside. My favorite is dragging my siblings and their kids up into the waterfalls and mountains in northern Michigan. only an hour drive and once you get up there cell phones and other technology don't work. It forces you to sing with the kids if you want music. If you want to watch a sitcom you are stuck watching squirrels, or watching trout fight the rapids. And the beautiful hikes, such great exercise. Just make sure they forget their cameras so that they have a reason to come back.
We have two generations that need our help to learn how to survive in this world. All they really need is the gift of our time. Lets give it to them and fix society.
and don't forget, Wednesday is readers choice for a blog topic. Let me know what you want to hear me babble off about.