A few months ago, I was at the grocery store with two of my daughters. It was late afternoon, so a few families were also there with their children.
Two of these families made this a trip to the store we’ll never forget.
The entire time we were there, their children were running through the store, screaming, fighting, and getting after the items on the shelves, while their parents completely ignored them. I want to clarify that these two families were not together- at least not that I know of- as they didn’t acknowledge each other in any sort of way. Nonetheless, the other shoppers all had to continuously dart out of the way, unless they wanted to become casualties of this rowdy group of kids.
I’ll admit that I was shocked more at the behavior of the parents than the kids. These adults just nonchalantly continued shopping, pretending that nothing was happening.
I’m seeing this more and more in our society today. It’s not uncommon for kids in our neighborhood to roam the streets all day long without a single family member checking on their whereabouts- children as young as 6 or 7 years old. I realize that this was normal decades ago, but I think most of us recognize that the world has changed and isn’t as safe as it used to be.
Where are the parents?
More and more today, it seems like people are relinquishing their responsibilities as parents and are letting their kids “rule the roost”.
What’s causing this?
Like everyone else, I can only guess at the answer to that, but I have come up with some ideas of what may have driven us down this road.
I know some of you are sighing as you read this, but hear me out. Since kids are often with their teachers more than they are with their parents, I honestly believe that some people just don’t know how to be with their own kids anymore. Look at all the back-to-school comments we hear:
“Thank God school is starting. I can’t handle my kids for another day.”
“I’m giddy with excitement because my kids are going back to school.”
“School’s starting! Good. Let their teachers deal with them.”
These are all variations of the sorts of things many parents say when they send their kids back to school after the summer. I’m not being haughty about this. I said the same things when my kids were in school because I didn’t know how to manage my own kids. How can you appreciate being with your kids when they’re with someone else throughout the year? How can you learn to “deal with them” if you’re constantly expecting someone else to?
Before compulsory schooling, family was central to everything. Now, at least for school-age kids, school is central.
What’s wrong with this picture?
Look outside your window and watch the people walking or standing by your house. Chances are, their faces are buried in their phones. People are forgetting how to connect with others in real life because the internet has made it “so much easier”.
We’ve taken what could be a wonderful thing and literally become obsessed with it. If people can’t even walk down the street without staring at a screen, imagine how they are at home. Again, I’ve been there. I had to delete my personal Facebook page because I was spending hours and hours a day on it- time that I should have been spending with my family.
It has become fairly common for parenting experts to give their opinion on things you should and shouldn’t say to your kids. Some of these tips are useful, but others are completely ridiculous. One magazine recommends you don’t say any of these things to your kids:
“Don’t do that.”– Umm, if my kids are doing something wrong and potentially harmful, you can bet I’m going to say that.
“You make me so mad.”– Apparently,this writer believes that children should always be able to express their feelings, but parents should always have to keep them inside. While I don’t believe this is a phrase that should be used often, I think it’s important to have authenticity in our relationships with our kids. Expressing this to them with a follow-up conversation as to why is an excellent way to teach kids that their actions do affect other people. Pretending that nothing bothers us is not a helpful way for kids to view adults.
“Hurry up and get ready.”– Evidently, this one is a no-no because it can cause stress. Good Lord. Now we know where the notion of “safe spaces” came from.
It’s plain to see that anyone who takes this stuff seriously is going to have a hard time disciplining their children because exercising any sort of authority has become taboo. You’d think people would correlate these parenting philosophies with the rise in juvenile delinquency, but, somehow, this is overlooked.
I know I am going to make so many people mad here, but it has to be said. I don’t have a problem with women working outside the home. I used to be one of those women. The problem that I have with this former movement is the fact that it completely undermined the importance of motherhood and how crucial it is for children to be raised by their own parents. Being a stay-at-home mom is just as respectable as it is to be a working mom. Why does it have to be either/or? Women who followed the women’s lib movement left their homes in droves in an effort to “make something of themselves”, and their families were left by the wayside. Sure, this was a great boon for the day care business, but, as with school, why should it be a stranger’s responsibility to raise our children for us?
Again, I know that some women have to work to support their families. I understand that. But, day care is certainly overused by some. One of my family members works at one, and she is always astounded by the amount of people who drop their kids off on days they don’t even work. Their reasoning is always that they might as well since it’s already paid for.
What kind of message is that?
Making the decision to have children is one of the biggest we will ever make.
It is imperative that we accept all that comes with parenting and give our children the attention and, yes, guidelines they so desperately need. It’s time we realize it should not be up to others to fulfill our obligations. Our kids need us.
Let’s be there for them.