While growing up I must readily admit that the activities of others didn’t distract me very much from the goals that I set for myself…while modest, they were achieved. I watch my students and listen to them talk and I find their take on friendship to be disquieting.

I stated to them that a friend doesn’t ask, or expect, you to do things that are against your morals. A friend doesn’t take you places where you are put in danger just for arriving. In addition, a true friend doesn’t expect you to hold their hand during their bad behavior. For example, if you are trying to quit drinking, they don’t ask you to be the designated driver. Further, they don’t take you to places where you’ll be tempted. In addition, if they are really good friends they will quit too.

I have students whose friends take them to places where they know trouble will erupt. They get taken to places where all are aware fights will occur. A true friend doesn’t endanger you. Matter of fact, they will do what ever is necessary to get you not to go. They would hate to see you hurt. A true friend has your best interest at heart, not just their own selfish desires. And, if a friend does go “bad” they understand when you don’t call or drop by. They don’t expect you to condone their bad behavior.

I understood when I wasn’t invited to parties where drinking and drugging was going on. They also understood why I wasn’t there. I cannot understand what friendship is supposed to be these days.

The kids say “they got my back”. I say they wouldn’t need too if you hadn’t been endangered by their behavior. A true friend takes the “rap” for you, not just shaking their head as you go down. When I was in the military, having your buddy’s back meant you took the bullet. And, you did everything you could to keep you and he out of ANY danger…not charging into it when you didn’t have to. It is not a test of friendship to drag your friend to a fight that you both happen to survive.

A true friend won’t let you drive drunk, drugged, or without a proper license. A true friend keeps the drunking and drugging away from you. How sad for so many that “party” means alcohol, drugs, and fights. Don’t sound like fun to me. Why must we change our personalities just to have fun? Why must we lower our inhibitions to have fun? Inhibitions are there to keep you from…oh, yeah….GETTING HURT!!! Isn’t that what we all want…less pain, emotional and otherwise???? I have known a great many people over the past nearly half-century and none of them regret missing out on that one “drunken escapade” that eluded them. No, more often than not, they regret that one “drunken escapade”. And, of all the escapades how do we know, in advance, which one will be the one to be regretted? Then why risk it? You are the only you you get…..haven’t we lost enough young people??

Most of the kids today think that we are all so old and weird, with so few redeeming qualities. If they feel this way, why do they follow my generation down the path to divorces, abortions, smoking, alcoholism, addiction, and regret??? Can’t they learn from our mistakes? Or, did they, in fact, get stupider from our glorious leadership example?? Why is the child who saw the chain-smoking parents and didn’t smoke so often the exception??? Are we so stupid that we follow blindly in the direction that we are led without regard to the consequences??

While I will admit that many of today’s kids are wonderful, and have learned a great deal from our stupidity…too many have not. Why is it acceptable in many people’s eyes that some “have to learn the hard way”, when too often learning that way leads to heartache and pain??? Didn’t we want save them from this??? Boy we did a very poor job of it didn’t we?? The pain, regret, and disappointment of poor choices is being revisited on our future generations…could this be the payment due for our transgressions while we are here??? I hope not.

Advertisements

As a teacher I am constantly asked how I think the children today are? I am bombarded with condolences for my job, due to the perceived difficulties that must be happening with the children. I am often made aware that the children I teach must be the worst ever, according to the adults I run into. Well…..

As I stood today listening to the tale of one of the youngsters it occurred to me that the adults in this child’s life must not understand at all. While many of our parents today are doing a wonderful job and their children are well-adjusted and responsible, far too many are not. I often am the recipient of the poor behavior that began because “my mom and I had a fight this morning….sorry” when that behavior is bad enough for me to have to get administration involved. I cannot imagine sending my child off into the day knowing that the last thing I said to her would stir her anger all day. Sure, we’ve had our days, nights, and weekends, where we didn’t agree or get along too well. But, she always knew that she was still my “one and only”.

The lack of respect displayed between the children and their parents is amazing. They call their children horrible names and then can’t understand why the child stays mad. They expect the child to overlook what they said, or did, out of anger yet they keep telling the child not “to speak to me in that tone.” Shouldn’t we as adults model the behavior we want to see in the child? Shouldn’t we be the ones to calm down first, after all we have seen many moments of frustration and know that they will pass?

I cannot imagine responding to my child as other parents do. I saw a woman screaming at the top of her lungs at a child in a store. She was demanding that he stop whining and put down the toy he had asked for. I was standing immobilized by the display. As the tantrum of the child, and that of its mother, grew in intensity, I was sure I knew where he learned the behavior. Do we ever stop to think about the way our children see us?

I remember thinking that some of the questions children are asked make little sense, yet we expect them explain themselves fully. I actually heard a father ask his son if he wanted him (the father) to hit him (the son). I thought “why would he want that?” What a stupid question!!! And this father will be amazed when the child hits his little brother…wondering where in the world he learned that.

Do we understand how bad the words that we say hurt the people we love? I have been in the presence of so many crying children, I know that few of the parents I see realize it. Most of them say what ever comes to mind….or at least to mouth. They never even guess that their child may be suicidal. They never understand why the child sneaks out at night. Yeah, like why would the child want to be away from such a monster? Then, often, the monster attempts to explain that “I was just mad…sorry.” Sure, I guess the child merely erases that from its memory.

This is not written to impune all parents. I just feel so sorry for both parties. There is only one greater relationship on Earth than parent to child….that being the one between the parents….and yet people tear both relationships apart over and over. What do they get for all of their trouble? Better wives, husbands, and children….it seems they only get greater anger and frustration from all corners. Do we really want our children to approach us in fear? I have seen large teenage boys tremble at the approach of their mother….terrified of her force of personality and authority. I have actually heard fathers state that they wanted their sons to “respect” them…..that isn’t respect…..thats fear. They are not the same. We wonder why our children have become so violent. Yet they aren’t the ones shooting at others who cut them off on the highway. What do we desire of them? What could possibly be more important than securing the love of our children? Oh yeah, we have to be right!! Is being right worth the tension in our families? Is being right and forcing a child to do our bidding, worth the wrath that child simmers until the explosion occurs?

At some point both parties must remember that it is the family that does the burying. It is the family that is to supply the scaffolding that is the main support for the child’s future. Without that support we all run a great risk of collapse. I have actually seen a parent viscously scolding a child, becoming a screaming spectacle, over insignificant things (like candy at the store, uncleaned rooms, unmade beds, etc). What will these parents do if the child wrecks the car later in life? I’m sure the child wonders the same thing.

Too often in parent teacher meetings we, teachers, exchange quick knowing glances as the parent explains why things have gone wrong. Too often the behaviors that we see in the kids are there, older, grayer, and usually angrier.

After all of these years teaching, I’m not sure that children have changed all that much, but I am sure parenting seems to have changed. The levels of frustrations in families of all socioeconomic levels seems to be rising. How many tears must we all shed? How many angry words can pass between us? How much pain can the hearts of all stand? Must we find out??? Must we be sure to be the major heartache in our child’s life? While it is never a one-sided affair, it cannot be overlooked that it is the parent who holds the position of authority and thus, the position of the greatest responsibility.

Today we learn that it was a deadly New Year’s Eve in Denver. Broncos player killed in drive-by shooting was the headline at CNN. Another drive-by. Wow, what brave souls they were. Sneak up along side, firing at unsuspecting people. That is nearly as brave as “jumping” someone with 5 or 6 of your “tough” friends. The cowardice of the bad guys here in the U.S.,never ceases to amaze me. My students constantly tell me that I don’t understand how things are these days. I have traditionally attempted to tell them that things haven’t changed that much….maybe I was wrong. I truly don’t understand people who murder indiscriminately. How does that make them feel powerful? It is very easy to kill. Many people kill themselves accidentally, so how hard could it be?? To kill is such an easy thing to do. Learning to live with those we dislike is very difficult. The man who punches the annoying drunk in the bar is not nearly so tough as the guy who goes to work each day with someone he hates. The worker understands that those who depend upon him benefit from his self-restraint. He is not a selfish child who cannot thing of anything better to do than lash out. How much frustration do our people carry around that allows them to lash out in such a fashion? I have students who spend their days an nights either fighting, discussing fighting, or being concerned about who is “looking” for them. What kind of values are we giving these kids? Many of their fathers are absent or telling them “not to take stuff” from others. When did we become so thin skinned?? I have many friends whose parents grew up in the U.S. prior to the 1960s, and they were black. It was a difficult time for them. In order to survive they had to learn to overlook the slights of others. They had to keep their eyes on what was important…their families. How much of a father is a dead man? How much of a father is a prisoner? How much of a father is someone whose only response seems to be violence? I understand the 3-year-old who cannot come up with any other response to frustration, but haven’t we learned anything?

Maybe my children are right, I truly don’t understand. I don’t know that I want to. I don’t want to know why people hate some one “from the other ‘hood” simply because his family choose a different street. I don’t know how they can’t see that if mommy moves…their hood changes. I don’t understand how they can’t see that the person who kills someone else gives up control over their lives to the dead guy. The dead guy, much like an ex-spouse, never leaves their minds. And, chances are, the dead guy was someone they wouldn’t have crossed the street to spit on. Why must we make sure that everyone understands we are mad or frustrated? I think most everyone is, to some degree. Why do we think our frustration is so important that we must lash out? Do we think that we are so important that the world must notice? Could it be that we were allowed to throw too many tantrums when we were young? Could it be that we were abused when we were young? Could it be that we cannot see that we are following the path of the fools that raise us? If we thought it was wrong for mom or dad to hit us, why is it OK for us to hit others? If we thought it was wrong for mom and dad to hit one another, why is no OK for us to lash out? Can we not learn from the mistakes of others, or are we so stupid we must learn the same hard lessons on our own? If so, what happened to imagination? What happened to trying to be better than the generation before us? Why not try to make our families proud of us, in the U.S., right Here.