What Are We Teaching our Kids?

I don’t know about you, but I am growing increasingly concerned about the kids being raised in America today. Have you taken the time to look around at the kids today? It just seems to me that children are continuing to become more self-centered, less motivated and more immature than they used to be. And, while I would like to say that the kids are the problem, the truth is that it isn’t the kids. It’s the parents.

What do I mean when I say parents are to blame for their children’s behavior? Think about it. Kids will be kids, meaning they will try to get away with whatever they can. If parents allow them to be lazy, show disrespect to their elders and be irresponsible, that’s what they are going to do. However, if parents make the decision to step up and be parents instead of their kids’ friends then they will raise respectable, responsible and mature adults.

So, here’s one example for where I feel parents are dropping the ball. I have a friend who teaches 4th grade in the public school system. The biggest problem she is facing is the lack of support from parents. Instead of parents coming to parent/teacher conferences willing to listen to the constructive criticism she has to give regarding their children, parents are coming to the conferences ready to defend their children, regardless of the situation.

For instance, one parent came in upset that her daughter was receiving D’s in every subject. However, she had excuse after excuse for why her daughter isn’t able to get her homework done at night. This is a case where the mother is enabling her child to be irresponsible. And, if it is allowed at home when the child is still a child, don’t you think this will follow her into adulthood? So, what can we do to fix the problem? Well, we should start by teaching our children how to be responsible people. Below are a few ways parents with young children can start.

• Expect Respect – My husband and I were both raised in homes where our parents expected us to respect them. When we were told to do something, we were expected to do it…without an attitude. And, if we didn’t like it, we better not show it. Some people may disagree with this parenting method, but the truth is that this parenting tactic taught us to respect our elders (even when we didn’t like it) and also that part of life is sometimes doing things we don’t want to do. Also, our parents showed us the kind of respect they expected us to give them. So, start here. Show your kids what respect is by respecting them, but make them respect you (and others) in return.

• Support Teachers and Other Adults – Don’t be so quick to defend your children. I know that sounds incredibly harsh, but go into any conversation regarding your children with an open mind. Be objective. When your children are in the wrong, support the adults (teachers, babysitters, nursery workers, etc.) who are informing you of the situation(s). For instance, my son (the 5 year old) knows that if he gets in trouble at school or with the babysitter, then he will also be in trouble when he comes home. Unless my son has clearly done nothing wrong, then my husband and I will support the teachers, babysitters and other adults who watch our son. This also teaches our son a healthy appreciation for authority.

• Let them Fail. Gosh, this is another hard one. Nobody wants to see their children fail, but sometimes failure is the best motivator/teacher. One of the local school systems in our area has stopped sending homework home with kids for two reasons, either 1) kids weren’t doing it or, 2) the parents were doing it for them. Exactly what is this teaching our kids? Really? Doing their homework for them? My parents never did that for me. If I didn’t do my homework, then I would get a zero. My parents helped me with homework, but never did it for me.

Another problem is that this same school system has decided that it isn’t beneficial to the kids to give them an “F” – even if they refuse to turn in an assignment, the worst grade they can get is a “D.” This is just sad to be. We have become a society that believes it’s better to protect children from failure because they’re feelings might get hurt or whatever. Why? Don’t you remember failing at something as a kid? Sure, it sucked and you felt bad, but didn’t it give you the motivation you needed to keep trying until you succeeded? Therefore, don’t be one who always protects your kids from failure. Some of the best lessons in life are learned after failure is experienced.

By Andrea K. Clark

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