Sunday, September 30, 2007

What are we raising these days?

Now, understand that the following post deals with an issue that has been batted around by my friends and I for quite some time. It deals with how kids are being raised these days.

When I was growing up we were raised to say "yes ma'am and no ma'am, yes sir and no sir" and I am trying to raise my kids the same way. If we screwed up we got our tails whipped and that was all there was to it. If our teacher called our parents in for a conference and told our parents that we were acting up and weren't doing our homework we were guilty until proven innocent. We went through all that and many of us turned out fine. As my friend Julie brought up in a class she was in: "In our generation we were spanked and taught to respect our parents and our elders and we turned out fine. The generation that we are raising now have almost no consequences for their behavior, no respect for anyone let alone themselves and some of them have not likely been spanked much less anything else." Well, that's pretty much the idea she was getting across.

I watch the way some people deal with their children and I don't get it. People are so worried about hurting the kids feelings or making them upset that we forget that our job as parents is to raise them and prepare them for the real world. You can tell those kids who have been raised to believe they are special to everyone and that they should be treated accordingly which in their mind frees them from consequence and disappointment. They are demanding and god help you if you tell them no. They want it all, they want it now and they are not willing to work too hard for it.

One time I read a report that red ink should be removed from schools and should no longer be used for grading papers. They decided a nice blue or purple would make the kids feel better about being huge failures. Are you kidding me???? My papers were always graded in red ink and if I had a big old red "F" on my test I did feel like a failure because I had failed. I did feel bad about myself and I should have. I felt bad enough about myself to work harder on the next test so I didn't fail again. What is the point about making a child feel better if they fail? We shouldn't be so coddling and forgiving because the real world certainly won't be. These days kids are in for a rude awakening because they aren't being prepared for what life as an adult is like. When a child is raised with everyone speaking in a soft voice for fear of upsetting them and is so coddled as to have someone sprinting to the rescue every time they fall down in the grass we are making a mistake. What about the parent that hurries into the teachers room to defend their little angel every time the child complains to the parent that the teacher spoke too sharply to them and screams at the teacher for picking on her child when the kid was actually relentlessly bullying another? What are these kids going to do in the real world? How are they going to handle the first time they get yelled at and reprimanded in the work place? What about the first time they get suspended or fired or told they can't do something? Have they been raised to deal with disappointment or have they been raised as pampered little princes and princesses where the normal rules don't apply and they end up coming in with a gun and shooting up the place or turning to drugs and alcohol to cope? All because someone yelled at them and they were never taught how to handle it.

I take a realistic view of child-rearing and this is what I tell my children:

You are special to me and your father and your grandparents but to the rest of the world you are just like everyone else. Life can be one big repetitive kick in the groin and it is not what happens to you in life but how you deal with it that will define you.

You are not "ten feet tall and bulletproof". Do not ever think that you are immune from life's unfortunate events because you most definitely are not. Others can get hooked on drugs and so can you. Others can end up in drunk driving accidents, jail, other trouble with the law and any other miscellaneous trouble one could think of and so can you.

If you want to help someone or rise above and beyond do it because you want to and it makes you feel good but don't do it because you want people to come up and pat you on the back to let you know you've done a good job because that type of recognition may be few and far between. Screw something up however, and you will find out just how many of your superiors and cohorts know you exist.

You are responsible for your own happiness and no one else. If you depend on someone else to make you happy you have given someone the power to destroy your well-being and sense of self so don't do it.

If you want to go far in life do the work and make the grades and your choices will be limitless. The second that you stop doing the work and making the grades you immediately limit yourself and your opportunities. You do the work for yourself and your future. Don't worry about what everyone else is doing, you look out for you.

Remember that this is not all there is. You will grow older and more mature and your priorities will change. Don't think that you will be where you are now forever because it simply doesn't work that way. This is the only life you have so live it well.

Don't say anything to anyone that you wouldn't want printed on the front page of the newspaper and don't let anyone take pictures or video of you that you would be embarrassed for your family and friends to see at Christmas.

Don't worry if people pick on you just remember how it made you feel and don't ever make anyone else feel that way. Remember that those people don't matter now and they won't matter two days, two weeks or two years from now. They will not affect your life forever. Don't pick on people because it is hurtful. Don't make fun of others because of a disability or shortcoming and just remember that it just as easily could have been you and not them with that disability. How would you want to be treated then?

Always give people credit for what they do right because that may be the only nice thing they hear all day...and it makes them more responsive to you in the event that you do have to fuss at them for doing a half-tail job.

Smile at people and say hello to people if you get the chance. There's no telling what kind of day they've had.

Don't think that you have to get married and have kids because you don't. Nowhere on life's label does it show milestones of when you should get married and have kids or drink coffee or anything else. Live your life first and enjoy it before you reorganize yourself to accommodate someone else.

I know I can be hard to live with because I am trying to raise you to be responsible, respectful, independent, contributing members of society and that is a job that is not always well-received. I won't tolerate disrespect but I do understand that you don't like me much from time to time because you think I am strict. I can handle that. I can handle you thinking what a horrible mother I am that I won't let you run the neighborhood with kids who have no rules or spend the night with a kid whose parents I don't personally know, or hang with kids who curse their parents and treat them like the hired help. I can deal with the huffing up the stairs because I won't give you a handful or money when you ask or because I won't let you go outside until your homework is done or due to you pitching a fit because you didn't get what you wanted.

Raising you is my job and regardless of how wicked you think I am I can assure you that one day you will thank me and one day you will understand...
...and I will tell you I Love You in red ink.

I'm sure there are people out there that would not agree with the things I say to my kids because they probably think that I am full of doom and gloom. They probably don't understand why I don't fill my children's heads with teddy bears and rainbows and my answer to them is that it is just not practical. I love my children but there are a lot of things that I wish I could go back, change and do over. They always get hugs and they know that they are loved dearly. I don't lie to them and I am always available for them to talk to regardless or what the topic is, any time day or night. If they need me I am always there, without fail. I'm simply not going to make my kids think that they are so special to everyone in the world that nothing can happen to them and they are immune from hard times and disappointment. If I did, I would be lying to them and they don't deserve that.