Kay's Note: AS A MOTHER OF TWO AND GRANDMOTHER OF FIVE, I AM GREATLY CONCERNED ABOUT OUR YOUTH! IT'S TIME WE DOTED ON OUR KIDS IN A GOOD WAY . . . BY BUYING AND COOKING WHOLE NATURAL FOODS . . . AND BY TAKING A STAND TO GET NUTRITIOUS WHOLE FOODS INTO OUR SCHOOLS. WE MUST GET THEM OFF THESE PROCESSED JUNK FOODS THAT ARE MAKING THEM SICK AND UNRULY! BELOW IS MORE "FOOD" FOR THOUGHT:
As you may remember, last May (Daily Dose, 5/10/2005), I wrote an article called The Death of Discipline. It was about a kindergartener named Ja'eisha Scott whose temper tantrum during classroom hours was so severe it paralyzed the entire educational process at the school - and ultimately required police intervention, which culminated in the handcuffing of the child...
My tack with that piece was that little Ja'eisha was a victim.
Not of the police, but of her poor parenting. The funny thing was that I prefaced that article with a warning to my readers that I was about to stir up trouble by pointing the finger of blame at a mother's skills at upbringing. However, instead of drawing the ire of readers like you, I got letter after letter agreeing with the assertion I'd made: That the girl's out-of-control actions were caused first and foremost by a lack of boundaries and discipline in the home. "Malparentosis," I called it.
The reason I mention all of this today is because of an editorial I read in the UK Daily Mail. It was written by a mother of two who claimed, quite frankly, to be bored by much of what transpires in her children's lives (things like birthday parties and band recitals). The main point of the woman's piece was that she hasn't made a career out of raising and pampering her kids, but rather has found ways to maintain her own identity and life while still making sure her offspring are well-tended...
One source in her article (a psychotherapist) claimed that to give children too much attention and disproportionate amounts of consideration is as abusive as ignoring or neglecting them. I've known the truth of this for years, and it's good to see it finally getting at least a mention in the media.
At least according to the essay's author, her kids are turning out just fine - they're not depressed or hyperactive or imbalanced or addicted or violent or suicidal or anything else most kids these days seem to be. If anything, they're remarkably self-sufficient, and more mature than their years, if what that author is saying is anything other than a complete fabrication (I suspect it's the dead-on truth).
Anyway, it all got me to thinking.
As anyone over 50 can attest to, there's been a complete change in parenting styles over the last 30 years. Gone are the days of tough love (or even routine discipline), and the levying of real responsibilities and limits on kids. Gone are the days when kids were to be seen but not heard, or heard only when spoken to. And gone are the days when children lived in a state of healthy fear of disappointing their parents, like we did. Keep reading...
Instead, we now live in an age when children have more rights to personal privacy (including medical and reproductive, mind you) than most adults have until very recent history; when parents' wants, wishes, and goals are subordinate to their children's whims; when any form of discipline beyond reserved speech is classified as abuse; and when the actions of teachers and police to control unruly kids is met with threats of litigation as often as heartfelt thanks from parents...
This "evolution" in parenting styles, brought on by our increasingly blameless, no-fault society, has corresponded with some other encouraging developments in the lives of modern children. Things like:
- An explosion in diagnoses of ADD/ADHD (itself an "illness" caused by a lack of discipline) and its subsequent prescription drug addictions.
- Ever increasing rates of teenage depression and the use (and black-market sale) of powerful antidepressant drugs, plus dramatic jumps in juvenile suicide.
- Declining test scores and academic achievement in almost all juvenile demographics (except, ironically, naturalized kids from foreign nations).
- Distressing increases in childhood obesity, STDs, substance abuse, and illegitimate births.
Now, I'm no psychologist or social scientist (and glad I am for that), but these seem like related circumstances to me. These symptoms of the modern social malaise were all but unheard of both when I was a youngster myself AND when I was raising kids of my own...
I can't help but believe that just about every kind of destructive or underachieving childhood behavior begins and ends with parents. I also wonder when we're all going to snap out of the pop-psychology, Dr. Phil watching, self-help-book-reading, I'm OK, you're OK, no-fault, everyone's a winner, medicated mindset we're all suffering the consequences of and start once again raising our kids up right...
That means with a little fear in them, a fair number of standards to live up to, and a lot of responsibilities to meet - or else. And of course, with a lot of love and support, too.
Never kidding about the state our kids are in,
William Campbell Douglass II, MD