Monday, June 23, 2008

These Kids

This will probably make me sound a little ancient, but what the hell.

Lately I've been looking around at kids, wondering what the heck is going on. I see such a lack of respect, a lack of drive and disregard for themselves, community, family and everything else in general. Last night my husband and I sat up talking about this well past midnight. He's always the one that is more reasonable, the one that definitely sees all sides to an issue, so it was best for me to discuss this with someone who isn't as opinionated about things as I usually am.

What sort of sparked this was talking with friends of ours and hearing about a law that was recently passed, either in Canada or in Alberta, making it illegal to spank your own child. Sorry I am this ill informed, I rarely listen to radio or watch the news, terrible I know, but it's often just too disturbing and depressing. Not that I am an advocate of spanking or not spanking, really I just feel that should be left to the parent's discretion, and definitely shouldn't be up for public debate. Protecting children from certain harm is one thing, but when it over steps the boundaries into everyday people's lives I think it's too much.

Well this got us to talking last night about how we feel things are going in our own home and community. I'm seeing a huge upsurge of kids around our community, hanging around in large groups, getting into all kinds of trouble, wrecking personal property, drinking openly in public, and doing this without much regard for consequences. We live in a beautiful community, one where you would come into and think, not a lot of shit would go on here. Well it does, and no I don't live in a glass bubble, I do realize that bad things happen in all sorts of places, but it is still a bit surprising. Believe me I grew up in the hood, and stuff like this would have been surprising even there.

On Saturday afternoon we stood outside, on our front lawn as two young guys, probably no older than 17, wandered down a path, not far from our yard. They each had a beer in their hand and were hooting a hollering, waving at us, acting like jackasses (talk about sounding like I'm a hundred). Well as they were carrying on, an older couple walked past and the older man's demeanor was surprising, he seemed a little afraid. This kind of took me aback, as I remember how I felt as a teen and how I would never have been that blatant and disrespectful without being scared shitless of the consequences. These guys seemed like they could care less what anyone thought. In fact, they seemed to challenge the notion that anyone had a right to expect anything more from them.

I'm disturbed, I'm worried. Where does this leave our children in a few years? This generation just seems so disconnected, so unconcerned and unmotivated. I struggle with trying to understand where they are coming from, the ways in which they communicate with one another. They seem to spend more time talking with each other electronically rather than verbally, person to person, and through this something gets lost along the way. The human element of communicating changes, the climate of relationships has shifted and we are starting to see the runoff in other areas.

We are the generation of parents who have learned to give our children a voice, to let them have an opinion about what happens in their lives, their family's lives, and this has somehow backfired on us. We've tried to include our children in decision making. Giving them the feeling that their opinions are very valuable, they are, but to what end? We are now left with kids that feel they are entitled in every way. Entitled, because we've spent endless amounts of time instilling in them that they are unique, and important in every way. I am as guilty of this as anyone. And this, sadly was probably more magnified when I was a single parent.

I've wanted to give my kids a voice in their lives, because I never had one. I've wanted to give them opportunities that I didn't have, things that I didn't have, and now I'm left with kids that want, and expect, without regard. They really are good and respectful kids, but they have this underlying expectation that things they want or need should be provided, without question. And I have done this. Now I sit and try to figure out how do undo at least some of it.

Have we gone too far, and can we ever get back? I ask myself if past generations of parents, and grandparents felt like this. Did they fear that we to were going to be the lost generation, unable to cope or do things for ourselves? I don't think it could ever have been as bad as I've seen it get in recent past. Now we seem to be in some kind of a crisis, with kids video taping beatings of each other. Where will this go, how much further into chaos can we travel.

I'm curious about what other people are feeling, thinking and experiencing in respect to this issue. I hope we as a society can get a handle on these things, start to makes some serious changes and expect more of our children, communities and ourselves.

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