We’ve been hearing about how kids these days are generally disrespectful louts since Kim and Hugo started going steady in Bye Bye Birdie. This week I ran across several articles about how kids these days rule the family roost. I also ran across a series of articles on helping teens transition into college life. Since I not only have been directly involved in the upbringing of one or more teen offspring for a continuous series of 13 years but also have witnessed teens in their natural habitat for some 25 years, I am going put my two cents in.

Gentle Reader, I give you what’s the matter with kids these days…

PROBLEM: The dang phones- If your sweet teen angel happens to be in middle school, you need to just say no. You would not believe the agony, angst, heartache, and wasted time caused by unsupervised younglings let loose to one-up, insult, and give their opinion on their favorite topic-each other. If you’re worried about your baby being cool (in Middle School nobody’s really cool), you are part of the problem. Also, who’s the first person doll-baby texts when she feels mistreated? Mommy. Please refrain from getting mixed up in middle school drama. Why would you even want to live through that twice?

PROBLEM: The dang TV- Look at most sitcoms, cartoons, and programming geared toward young audiences. Parents are dolts and kids get the quick, witty retorts. If I would’ve come back with some of the things teens say to their parents on TV, my mama would’ve slapped the taste right out of my mouth. If you don’t see that television shapes a kid’s mental compass of what behaviors are appropriate, you are part of the problem. Does this mean you should ban TV from your home? No, but when your kids get that slack-mouthed, glazed over look (or you do yourself), it’s time to pull the plug and DO SOMETHING. Maybe try an actual conversation? Chip and Joanna don’t have a TV in their home at all. They may be onto something.

PROBLEM: The dang activities- Middle class America is all about providing children EVERY opportunity for success and making the road smooth toward it. Family schedules become as complex as the arrival/departure boards at an international airport. Time, effort, and a good portion of the family income go into making the world see just how great Wonder Baby is at ball, performance, or competitive macramé. If you’re hopping teams, studios, or even towns to make your superstar’s dominance obvious to everyone else, you are part of the problem. I caught a LOT of social heat from friends and even family when I didn’t “encourage” one of the kids to continue in an activity that involved a squall fest before every practice. After completing the season, we moved along to other interests despite me being literally told that I was handicapping my child by severely limiting future options. The kid found success, thank you very much.

Teens will push limits. It’s part of their DNA. They are also inventive, flexible, resilient, and remarkably cognizant. Those gray skies of adolescence tend to clear up. Parenting is a tightrope. We want our kids to succeed. We want them to avoid the pitfalls that tripped us up. We are also exhausted by the peer pressure that goes with the pursuit of provision. Parenting is a process, not a competition. So, what’s the matter with kids today? It’s probably us.

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