Please excuse my rant. Is it just me? Or does it seem like some of our young people have less respect for authority? Maybe I’m just getting older, but when I was growing up, we were taught to have respect for authority and other people. My parents were always reminding us how important it was to “make a good first impression.” In most cases, people are going to react to our first impression–whether good or bad. What happened to having respect for authority, and other people in general? I know rebels have been around forever. But these days it seems like its gone way beyond that. It’s in the violent video games, the movies, music, videos, T.V., and all over the internet.
I think it starts at home. If there’s little to no consequences for misbehaving–or if the consequences are not followed through on (all talk/yelling), they will actually continue their bad behavior. Kids are smart that way; it doesn’t take long for them to figure that out. Boy, I remember growing up and hearing the classic “wait till your father gets home.” Then you knew you were in trouble, and whatever you were doing, you better not do again.
And letting our teens go off on their own for extended periods of time not exactly sure of who they’re with or more importantly whose “keeping an eye on them” can be a problem. It doesn’t matter how “responsible” or “mature” we think they are. They’re still kids; without some form of supervision, it’s only a matter of time before they’ll probably get into some kind of trouble. There has to be solid consequences for that and not just verbal. Setting and following through on consequences could be one the hardest parts of parenting–because it’s a lot of work. It takes time and effort, and you have to be willing to be “the bad guy.” It doesn’t mean that we love them any less; it actually means we love them more and are trying to teach them how to be a responsible adult someday.
There also used to be a lot more respect in our schools. I can remember messing around in class before the bell, but when the teacher walked in, everyone would stop, sit down and be quiet. If you didn’t and continually disrupted the class, you’d get written up and ultimately sent to the principal. The principal would call your parents, and then you’d get the “wait till your father gets home.” The stories I hear about the foul-mouthed students are very disheartening to say the least. I’ve even heard of schools calling the parents and the parents siding with the disobedient child, like it’s a conspiracy against them.
In this busy world that we all live in, let’s take some time to slow down, put down the phone, step away from the computer, turn off the T.V., and engage our children. Find out what they’re thinking. Get to know the kids they’re hanging around with. Kids will adapt to whoever they’re hanging around with, good or bad. And let’s also make it a point to set good examples. We all know our kids are watching us and emulating us–again, good or bad. The old saying “do as I say, not as I do” will only go so far.
Guest columnist Erik Jacobson lives on the West side of Mille Lacs and is a Supervisor for Kathio Township and the Fire Warden.