"(My husband) sat me down and told me I was going to create a monster if I continued to act as though 'no' and 'I don't love you' were synonymous." -- Anna Quindlen, from Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake.
I read a study in a professional journal a few weeks ago that had followed a generation of kids from birth to age 25. These were kids from what the authors called the "tethered generation," those kids whose parents had total contact with them 24/7 from birth on. They were also the kids, the study said, that were the most indulged in the history of this country. The results? Not good. The study found that these now "adults" were unmotivated, spoiled, unwilling to follow rules, and had a higher percentage of rap sheets (some, granted, were petty crimes) than any other generation before.
This study showed that these kids were going into the work place unwilling to do what was required of them. They wanted to go to work at 10 and leave at 4. They told their prospective employers what they would and would not do, as well as expecting outrageous salaries in the starting gate. They showed up to job interviews dressed in shorts, T-shirts, and flip-flops, looking, one interviewer said, "like they were headed to the beach and not ready to get down to work."
My children were important to me, just as this country and this world are important to me. My children and grandchildren (if I ever have any!) will have to live in this world. I worry about that. What kind of world is it going to be for my grandchildren if it continues to be so permissive and irresponsible?
My children (now grown, thank goodness) were not angels. They were often bratty, sometimes sweet, often annoying and frequently misbehaved. My son went through most of his high school years without any video game privileges because he refused to do school work. My daughter spent many afternoons and evenings in her room rethinking how she could better use her mouth.
But we also spent a lot of fun times with our children. Sometimes we laughed so hard together that our ribs hurt. We taught them to respect themselves as well as the feelings of others. We told them 'no,' and they quickly learned to appreciate the cases when 'yes' came up. Their every whim was not indulged, and they learned to appreciate what they did have.
I'm sure there were times they hated us. That's OK. The parents' job is not to have their kids love them; their job is to raise beings that become responsible, respectable adults who contribute to, not leech from, society. Adults who learn that the pleasures of life come at the cost of hard work, and not just handed to you on the public's dime via a government check.
If you take a new piece of clay, it is soft and easy to mold. But if you let the clay age and sit without attention to it, it will become hard and impossible to mold. Children, too, are shaped and molded from birth; their values will be ingrained before they reach their late teens. And children who grow up overindulged and undisciplined grow into reckless adults who are a drain on our social systems.
Proverbs 13:18 -- "He who ignores discipline comes to poverty and shame, but whoever heeds correction is honored."
Proverbs 23:13,14 -- He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him."
How much more reliable advice do we need?