Style & Substance: On “children today”

I am 26 years old, live locally and have just started my career. I am wondering…do children today act more entitled than children from other generations? So often I hear teachers, parents, grandparents, just so many people complaining about “children today.” I see young children with expensive phones and other electronic games and I see teens walking with a group of friends and everybody is texting instead of talking with each other. All of this scares me as I pay close attention to the responsibility of adulthood and think about having children. What are your thoughts?

When people refer to “children today” it usually is in negative terms! Technology and the family is an issue that parents may not consider early enough and suddenly it gets away from them without any “rules” in place. Very often family structure is blamed for “children today” which really means that families are so busy, parents forget to parent.

Truthfully, and more accurately, to define a traditional family today is nearly impossible in terms of structure; blended families, single parent families, two parent families – same and different gender…are all families making up the definition of “normal.” Whatever the structure, children need support, love, guidance, and routine in order to grow into responsible adults. They also need these same guidelines to be happy children.

Between us we have seven children, three for Sally and four for Michele, so we have spent a lot of time contemplating this idea. Parenting tends to change a bit from generation to generation due to shifts in culture, economics, and experience. However, a few basic rules of civility never go out of style.

A fundamental truth: with rights come responsibilities: this is a code by which we have raised our children and find is a code that works for all families and all situations. For us, this is the definition of discipline. We believe that children, from a very young age, can achieve reasonable expectations for their behavior and actions. For example, a young child has the right to a safe place to play but that same child also has the responsibility to pick up toys in this space and to share those same toys. When parents do not hold a child to the responsible part of the equation, then the child begins to live from a point of expectation rather than thankfulness. Think of the adults who still live their lives this way…..do we need to say more? When children are called to regular, everyday responsibilities, they expect to be accountable and share in the well being of their family, reducing “entitlement” significantly.

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