I noticed a long time ago that every generation has some particular criticism of the generation rising up after them. Have you ever noticed that?
I was born at the tail end of the Baby Boomer generation, while my wife was born at the front end of Generation X. I recall one of the criticisms of both our generations being centered on television. “Kids watch too much TV these days” was a common proclamation. Similarly, for the later Gen Xers and the early Millennials, you could hear people criticizing the amount of time spent playing video games. Nowadays, the late Millennials and members of the still-to-be-determined generation are criticized for their faces being buried in various hand-held electronic devices.
Who’s To Blame?
Every generation is critical of the next and typically points to a decline in personal standards, a decay in moral ethics and some level of social disconnect. And to be fair, some of the criticisms have merit. But then again, some of the criticism should be focused more on the older generation that raised the younger one. For example, television and video games have been used as babysitting tools to allow busy moms or dads to get things done around the house, or merely so adults can escape the kids for a period of time. I have even seen iPads and iPhones used for the very same reasons. Standards and ethics are not something that are innate, but rather something that is taught.
When I hear someone saying that teens these days (or a generation in general) are entitled, the question that comes to my mind is: Who allowed them to be? Did their parents do everything for them? They learned it somehow and from someone.
An Example For Our Kids
Our children are always watching us – everything we do, how we do it and what we say while we do it. Their minds are constantly compiling the data that will shape their lives later on. What kind of a child do you want to raise? Once you have answered that question, be that person! Raise your child to have the standards, ethics and social behavior that you want to see in them by being the person they learn it from.
Now, this is not a blanket guarantee that they will turn out exactly the way you want. Each of us has a free will and is responsible for making our own decisions, but you can be certain that the chances of them being that way greatly increases with the effort that you put in.
Letting Kids Make Mistakes
I wanted to raise four daughters that would become responsible adults with strong values, capable of being independent but also knowing the interdependence of a good marriage relationship. One of the things I quickly recognized in the early teen years was the need for my girls to feel independent and capable of handling responsibility. All teens want that, but most are not ready for large doses of it.
I began a process of slowly easing my reigns on my girls during the early teen years by giving them more and more chances to make decisions for themselves, all under my careful watch. As I would often tell other parents of teens, “I would give them enough rope to hang themselves, but be right there to cut the rope when they did.” What I mean is that I was willing to allow my girls to make bad decisions or even fail at something, but I would always be close by to pick them up when they called out to me. Isn’t that how God works with us? Doesn’t He allow us to make mistakes and even fail? Isn’t He always close by waiting for us to call out to Him when we make mistakes?
Too many parents do too much for their kids and never allow them to fail or make mistakes. I would much rather be a parent who teaches and trains my children through their small failures in order to help them avoid making larger ones when they are older and no longer under my watchful care. I don’t want to be that parent who is responsible for raising kids that accurately represent the criticisms of their generation.
When I was a kid, I could spend hours in my room listening to vinyl records of my favorite rock bands with my larger-than-a-motorcycle-helmet headphones plugged in to my Hi-Fi via a 20-foot cord while I laid on my bed playing air guitar and air drums! Somehow, I turned out okay. Maybe we need to focus less on what type of media our kids prefer to consume and more on the type of people we are raising them to be.
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