When I was growing up, granted it was in small towns in the Midwest, life was different. It was slower paced; emphasis in child rearing had to do with the development of their character, their spirituality, their appreciation of nature, their integrity. Going to church on Sunday was a required and vital part of our development. Not all parents did it right as even then not all parents were perfect. No one taught classes on how to be a parent. You learned from how your parent raised you and they learned from their parents. There was no social media, just Edward R. Murrow. Kids didn’t have cell phones, tablets, video games or Netflix. The primary mail we received were letters from grandparents, aunts and uncles and friends, actual letters that were written on paper. We had no television so it was just listening to the radio with Gangbusters, The Lone Ranger or Gunsmoke where we had to use our imagination to picture what was going on. The only violence in movies was Gene Autrey and Roy Rogers and as for sex, we’d never heard the word but even if we had we knew it had nothing to do with us. We didn’t do selfies, weren’t much concerned with our looks and the most important thing was if we got our chores finished in time we could go outside and play.
My brothers and I played trucks in the dirt, hide and seek, climbed trees, swam in rivers in the summer, ice skated on them in the winter and used our endless imagination to think up games to play. If the weather was bad we played canasta while we drank lemonade and ate popcorn. Or we read books, lots of them. I read Nancy Drew Mysteries; my brothers read the Hardy Boys.
I’m not sure what life was like in the cities since I only lived in one, Tucson, AZ for a year when I was growing up. My kids grew up in the LA area but they were raised with the same value system I was. All four turned out to be some of the finest people I know.
Most of what I know about today’s children leaves me shaking my head. I had a teenage grandson who at one time said he thought he may have heard of the American Civil War someplace. He was a teenager at the time. What does that say about today’s education? Chores are not an accepted part of your daily responsibilities. Those are for your parents to take care of. Most teenage kids think integrity is the name of the latest Japanese car. Watching movies, U Tube videos and television shows that are semi-porn is an accepted part of growing up. Reality shows are so entertaining especially the Kardashian show. I just learned from my daughter yesterday that Kim Kardashian got her start in fame by doing a sex video tape that went viral on U Tube. What a role model! I have granddaughters whose most important thing in life is having the Kardashian app where they can find out everything really important in life: what the Kardashians are wearing, where they buy their clothes, their make-up tips, their favorite places to shop etc.
Teenage girls (and probably boys) have no idea of setting boundaries. They are ripe potential victims on social media where perpetrators hang out looking for kids who could care less about what they post in words, what photos they post, what suggestive comments they make. These are kids who don’t even need any grooming in the world of sexual trafficking and sexual abuse. They are already primed. Parents need to teach their kids about setting boundaries, about how to watch out for the bad guys. Old problems, like bullying, have become worse. So many potential traumas exist that we are not addressing in a sensible manner. It’s a scary world.
I am so very concerned about what our world is going to look like once today’s kids become adults and I use that word loosely as some may never grow up. Millennials have a value system that would have looked shallow to me when I was their age. Instead of getting out on their own and learning how to move towards a fulfilling life most kids in their early twenties are still living at home sponging off their parents. Growing up entails accepting responsibility, making wise choices, trying to be a better person, raising healthy children and using your head about your spending habits. It’s much easier to stay at home and let your folks take care of your needs. Not all kids are like that. I have grandkids who are in college and while living at home working towards a career. But too many aren’t.
I’m not saying there weren’t problems in my childhood years and my teen years. I’m not saying I turned out to be a perfect person. I’m not even saying there is no hope and none of today’s young people have any sense. I’m just saying they are so far behind that if they ever do catch up it may be too late. I pray I am wrong.