The house is finally quiet and still. There’s the sloshing of the dishrag, soft popping of the bubbles, and occasional running of water. The gentle clanking of pans. Many would find it therapeutic. I find it mundane, but a chore a cook never escapes, so my mind wanders. Then it wonders.
Are we messing up our kids?
Are We Messing Up Our Kids? seemed like a good summer study book. I downloaded it and read the intro and first chapter…and there it has sat, unfinished. The title alone raises more concerns and questions over what my children will face than I can answer in a lifetime. Worry and doubt over how they will be treated, opportunities denied to them, persecutions against them, and restrictions imposed on them stir.
Over the past few years, I have found myself questioning things I thought I had hashed out long before I ever “grew-up” and got married. But, as you raise small children day in and day out, you discover they observe you. They are little sponges that study every decision and action with surprising astuteness. They question, prod, revolt, and desire to understand the how and why behind all of their little world. It makes me examine my choices. A lot.
They reflect you. They are tiny mirrors catching your flaws, projecting your blind spots, and highlighting your vices. If you raise your voice; they do, if you don’t wear your seatbelt, they catch it; Nothing in the world makes a person feel like a bigger hypocrite than when that inevitable parenting question comes, “You do it, so why can’t I?”. It makes me examine my attitude and actions. A lot.
Are we teaching our children to be hypocritical when we tell them not to be sneaky, but they watch us be secretive and evasive? Are we confusing them when we buy from companies that aren’t responsible to their consumers or to our planet? What does it say when we gripe about a corporation’s lack of quality but still buy their products? When we grumble about lack of compassion, but won’t lend aid to others? What are we telling them when we get mad about lack of customer service or politeness, but are rude to wait staff? What lesson do they take away when we don’t live a healthy lifestyle but then complain about our standards of healthcare? What message does it portray when we don’t take time to know where our food is grown, what that term pink slime means, or how fair trade operates but we can update our Facebook 50 times a day, retell the highlights from E News, and give a play by play of the latest reality TV episode?
We are in an era with more information and more access to information than ever before. If the Devil is in the details, then he should be doing a happy dance right now because we are inundated with details. Obsessed with lives of people we will never meet or know. Showcasing details of our lives that were contained to our homes just decades before. Overwhelmed with news and world events we cannot predict, change or control. I could do a whole posts just listing the details. However, the average person is less educated at the root of their values than ever before. They forward information, but don’t stop to check its accuracy. They watch an entertainer, but don’t stop to listen to the lyrics or understand the message. They support a political figure, but can only explain where they stand on one issue. As a whole, we don’t question, don’t prod, don’t revolt or take the time to desire understanding. We can list details, but lack the thesis. The populous strives to affect change and set precedents, but fails to play out the repercussions of that change for years to come.
How will our children place value on honesty, integrity, and hard work if we are in massive debt, spend more time at work than home, and seldom are committed to a conversation with them? Are we becoming so concerned with political correctness that we are screaming at our youth, have standards, have values, but have them in secret. Have a sense of right and wrong, but don’t dare to stand up for what you believe in. Have faith, but be sure that faith doesn’t ruffle anyone’s feathers. Have convictions, but don’t share them with anyone lest you be called bigots, racist, sexist, or worse.
If we don’t take time to talk through issues that are pressing our country like the definition of marriage, women’s rights, gun control, drug use, genetically modified organisms….I could go on. Then who is shaping their and beliefs on these issues? At what point as adults do we examine our core values and compare them with what we have been taught, how we’ve been brought up, or what our parents believe?
I fear that with overbearing parents, micromanaging school systems, and mundane workplaces we will teach generations to stop being thinkers. To stop questioning. Our legal system has even introduced the defense of “affluenza” and it made me nauseous.
If we continue down this path of no expectations, no losers, no thinkers, no independence…Then what?
What will happen when we teach people not to think? Not to question? Just to oil the squeakiest wheel? Maintain the popular? I always thought what was popular is not always right.
What happens when we, as parents, are so ambivalent to the world around it that we leave the difficult lessons of life up to someone else? Will their views be in line with our own, or are we just too lazy to decide what we stand for? If it’s not laziness, how about complacency? If not complacency, how about fear for how others will treat us when we take a stand? Have previous generations spawned hypocrites by declaring lofty aspirations not backed by example? Did we push one envelope too far and decide to let the others fall where they may?
How in this age do we balance respect for oneself, others, and authority with recognizing when those in positions of power are leading us astray? How do we help our youth navigate which institutions and traditions should be protected and when change should be demanded?
When we are forced to accept definitions, ordinances, laws, and ways of living that infringe on those unalienable rights we grew up believing in, then what? How do we teach them patriotism, responsible citizenship, and functional adult roles when those ideas are being changed and redefined daily?
I don’t know all of the answers. The best plan I have for not messing up my kids is this: Be intentional. I know who holds all the answers, that’s not for me to worry about or know. I can be intentional. I can go to bed and get some rest. I can choose to unplug from the information reel, reduce the clutter and excess, and get around to finishing that study. I can buy paper plates every once in awhile and forget about the dishes.