Tuesday, May 22, 2012
It's Never Too Late!
When I look around at today’s society, I no longer feel shocked that we are falling apart. I understand that as humans, we are not only prone to mistakes, but it is inevitable. I make plenty of mistakes of my own. I weigh that heavily, when I make the statement that society in general seems to be bitter, angry, lazy, and vengeful. I know these seem like harsh words, but simply reading the news or observing people in general can justify these accusations. Don’t get me wrong, there are some really wonderful people who try to live quality lives and instill their kids with high standard. I have the pleasure of being acquainted with these people.
I guess I should explain some of the behaviors that I have seen that alarm me. Everything from lack of respect, complacency, hedonism, lack of accountability to a general carelessness and the inability to forgive. We are all guilty of these mistakes to a degree, myself being no exception. For some people though, these behaviors are a way of life and a hard core rule.
Instead of just talking about this, I think it would be best to give examples. Back in 2004, my husband and I campaigned for the national election. I was really quite shocked and disappointed by the amount of people I spoke to that told me they didn’t care about the election or even vote. Why? In their words, “My vote doesn’t count” and “It doesn’t affect me.”
Wow, really? How can anyone feel that they aren’t affected when they have money that is removed from their paycheck every week for taxes. Maybe they think that amount is determined by the magical money fairies. What about the social programs that many people count on such as Medicare, Unemployment Insurance, or the Social Security that we all pay into? I wonder if these people realize that by the time they retire, Social Security may not even be there anymore.
Even laws such as minimum wage, and tax breaks for corporations that take our jobs overseas, are decided on by the men and women that we elect into state and federal positions. One of the biggest complaints that I hear today, is that there are not enough blue and white collar jobs. These same people complaining do not feel the need to go to the polling booths each election. Ignorance and complacency have only made us a weaker country, and countries such as China, stronger.
From the day we are born until the day we die, we are affected by the men and women that we do or do not vote for. I imagine the men that fought and died over a period of eight years, from 1775 through 1783, to obtain our independence from Britain would be absolutely turning over in their graves. This empathy is exactly what we are teaching our children to be acceptable. I can reassure everyone, that our complacency will come back to haunt each and every one of us; Even those who do not feel they are affected by the politicians running our country into the ground.
Respect! We have songs that tell us to respect, yet so many in today’s society do not have one ounce of respect for themselves, much less others. From selling our bodies to the way we treat those around us, we have really declined. One woman I know, has taken three separate people to court on charges that range from molestation to spousal abuse. In every situation, she has sat in her chair in the court room and blatantly lied about each of these people and every person who supported them. Unfortunately, the courts do not seem to be concerned with the truth as the “facts” these disrespectful people testify to, could be confirmed, yet never are.
On the same token, I have a teenaged girl on my Facebook that spews racist, tasteless, and vulgar words and expressions with the same ease that I blink. Not only is this behavior disrespectful to everyone on her Facebook page, but it is also disrespectful to her parents. Apparently, they do not seem to be concerned as they do not stop or correct her behavior. Honestly, if that were my child, not only would I be humiliated, but ashamed at the job I had done as a mother.
Respect comes in many forms. From the appreciated thank you, to the under used please and your welcome. With each generation, our ability to be respectful seems to become more obscure and at times, corrected. There are people who become very upset by the expression “bless you” after one sneezes, and others that find the “courtesy wave” while driving annoying. This indicates to me that we feel entitled to be rude and disrespectful. If I am wrong, I welcome any person who can explain why it is so offensive when other people show us respect.
Hedonism is a very serious issue, in my opinion, in today’s world. There is absolutely nothing wrong with being happy and having pleasure in our lives. I am all for that! However, today’s youth have been pampered and babied to a degree that they all seem to feel entitled to whatever they want just because they exist. Several years ago, I recognized that even my children were guilty of this. I have done a one-eighty on this behavior with my own kids as I find it to be disrespectful, annoying and non-beneficial to them.
How do we teach our children to understand limitations or heartache even, if we are trying to submerse their lives in pleasure only?
We have all seen the kids at the grocery store that demand every toy, every treat, and every desire. They throw their bodies on the ground, while they violently kick and scream until their parents reassure them that everything will be okay. The item that the child desperately needed is then added to the cart and off they go to the next isle where this behavior is repeated with the next desire. When the parent gets to the register, their baskets are over filled with Ho-Ho’s, Ding Dong’s and Devil Dogs. These are typically the same kids that receive a brand new, fully loaded Mustang on their sixteenth birthday.
As parents, we have gone above and beyond normal protection of our kids. We don’t even let them see us get angry. We do not disagree or argue in front of them for fear of their displeasure. Today’s therapists are experiencing a whole new phenomenon. Young adults whose lives have been too perfect... too pristine.
We really have not been doing our children any favors by over indulging them in their every whim. Once these youngsters get out into the real world, they realize they are unable and ill equipped to handle the down turns in their lives. They fall apart because their world is no longer perfect and protected with bubble wrap. They discover that people yell; People are mean; They are replaceable.
Lack of accountability... Wow! This one is huge and probably one of my biggest pet peeves. I realize we are all guilty of this at one time or another. It is in our nature to not want to be in trouble. It isn’t the occasional misstep we need to fear. It is the adult or child that lives by the creed of, “I didn’t do it” or “It wasn’t me”. This is where the problem lies.
If our child is bullying another child at school, why do we excuse their behavior as a normal part of growing up? Why do we see this as normal behavior instead of holding them accountable? Is it because we would have to acknowledge there is a larger issue at hand? Is it because we would have to acknowledge they may have learned their behaviors from us?
This goes back to the hedonism. No it doesn’t feel good to accept we have an issue, but again, we are not doing our children any favors by letting them off the hook with the typical excuses.
I have seen, many times in my life, one parent that is pushing the other parent around, bullying them, if you will. These parents are the ones that control every aspect of the lives of everyone around them. They do not seem to care about the future because they are too busy wanting the world now. They seem to be unable to give respect, because life has made them bitter and angry and they seem to be unwilling to look in the mirror. They seem to be unwilling to accept responsibility and correct their thinking and actions.
I once heard a story of a group of teenaged boys in Texas who burned down a facility that housed rescued cats. The boys thought they would get their kicks by setting the building on fire. Over one hundred cats and kittens died that evening. When the boys were arrested, their parents were outraged. They defended their sons by saying that “boys will be boys”. Sadly, these parents are “role models”. This seems to me, to be a very big issue.
Making excuses for why our children did or did not do something is not only an injustice to our children, but a travesty to our future and society.
Carelessness can be a bit difficult to address, as there are many times when we unintentionally carry out this behavior. But our kids are watching us, nonetheless. From gossiping to over extending our budgets, we guide our children into poor and unacceptable behaviors and habits.
For example, as harmless as it may seem, those little “white lies” we tell have a major impact on our kids. One mother I knew habitually lied about other people and things. It may have seemed harmless, but her daughter learned that lying was acceptable and carried on the behavior. She began to lie about everything that she felt would help her obtain her goals. She also lied to avoid the displeasure of discipline. When she misplaced something, for example, it was easier to blame others around her instead of owning up to the mistake. When she did not do well on a test or homework, it was easier to make up lies about the teacher. I don’t think there was ever a single teacher of hers that wasn’t “racist” or just didn’t like her.
This same mother was careless in the way she spoke of others. If women did not fit the 38-26-34 mold, then she would make a big deal out of it, referring to these women as fat or ugly. There was so much pressure in that home for women to look a certain way, despite the fact that the mother was over weight, that even the most beautiful of models were critiqued relentlessly. Ultimately, this woman’s child became anorexic, losing thirty pounds in one summer. At sixteen years old, this young girl is already speaking to others the same way her mother does. She is not incredibly popular with the girls, and she now dresses, looks and behaves like a woman in her twenties.
Not only do our careless behaviors influence our children, they often create severe emotional scars, leading to insecure or reckless children. Sometimes, their lives become so unbalanced, they have difficulties in every phase of their lives. As we can see, what appears to be harmless, may end up becoming catastrophic to our kids.
I saved what I consider to be one of the most harmful examples we set, for last. The inability to forgive others, not only teaches our children the difficulty of moving forward, but we also teach them that our bitterness and anger are normal behaviors. Worst of all, we teach them hate!
My mother was a perfect example of the inability to forgive. Maybe she felt it was a sign of weakness to forgive. I saw her behavior as the weakness. One of her children went the opposite direction and the other has the inability to express anger at all. Ultimately, they both allowed people to trample on their feelings.
Another symptom of hanging on to anger, is that our children see us use our bitterness through abrasive comments and actions (revenge usually). They learn that revenge is the normal process that follows our anger and inability to forgive. Ultimately, there is a large group of people running around attempting to hurt each other.
Anyone can watch the news and see these pent up feelings come out through vandalism, character attacks and even the worst case... murder. If people were willing to address issues as they came up, I believe so much of today’s hard feelings could be addressed. Anger, after all, is really a form of hurt. (http://whitehorseriders.org/PDFanger-what%20is%20it%20really.pdf)
Children learn their communicating skills, strengths, weaknesses, forgiving abilities and irresponsibilities from us. We are, after all, the first and strongest examples of our children’s role models. Every parent will make mistakes. We are human.
I know that every time I write an article, I see areas in my life in which I can improve. I feel grateful for that. I also feel grateful for the people around me who I believe, are terrific parents and great role models. I see my weaknesses as a parent, when I watch their amazing parenting skills. They aren’t perfect either, but they try harder than the majority of people out there. They give me hope that maybe our future will be okay. Honestly, they deserve their own blog, thanking them for the job they do!