The Kids Are All Right
Modern parenting is in crisis. We are raising a generation of selfish, lazy, arrogant, self entitled losers. British nannies seem to be subject matter experts.
I am tired of it. I am tired of reading about how I failed "the sippy cup test." According to the British nanny, the only reason I would take the cup filled with milk and pour the milk into a different cup that my son requested is that I am terrified of the upcoming tantrum. Who is in charge? she asks. Seriously? I am. I make my son do a hundred things he does not like, or does not feel like doing at the moment, every single day. He has no say in leaving for daycare in the morning, going to bed at night, running errands with me, leaving the park, or stopping an activity he is thoroughly enjoying. Half the time the only explanation I provide is: "Because I said so." He is bossed around all day long. Why wouldn't I let him make the call once in a while, especially if it's about a sippy cup? It takes five seconds to pour the milk. How many times do you put a shirt or a pair of shoes on, only to switch them for a different one five minutes later? And the tantrum? Kids throw one anyways. Anyone who ever parented small children knows that even if everything goes according to them, there is still a reason to throw a tantrum. Or more accurately, there is no reason, yet there is a tantrum.
Our kids watch too much TV and play evil video games. They should be playing outside, like the old generation used to. Somehow it is omitted that the parents were nowhere near while that old generation played outside. Somehow it is overlooked that today you get arrested if you let your child play in the park alone.
We are failing because we use electronic devices to entertain our kids. Don't use them in a restaurant. Teach them patience. Kids need to learn to sit at the table quietly and eat sage infused asparagus. Imagine you sit at the table with a bunch of people who only speak Dutch. You don't understand Dutch. You try to smile politely every time they burst out laughing, but really - would you agree to go to another dinner with them the next time they ask, or would you rather make up an excuse that your goldfish looks lonely and you should spend some more quality time with it? Do you know what the older generation did when their kids got too antsy to sit at the table? They sent them outside. To play. Alone. See the previous paragraph.
I hear it all the time. "We used to be respectful. We used to listen. We used to teach our children how to listen and to be respectful." I know, I know - I was one of those listening and respectful children myself. I also grew up in fear. I was constantly dreading the consequences of doing something wrong. My parents never hit me, but they threatened to do so quite frequently and I believed them. The fear of being hit was real, whether it happened or not. I stopped asking questions, because I was afraid my teacher would point out how dumb the question was in front of the whole class. There was a village, a real one, and the adults made sure they stuck together to keep us quiet and obedient all the time. Don't jump, don't run, don't yell, don't laugh so loud, don't ask, don't bother anyone, don't spill, don't dare! Just don't even dare!
And yet - there were still bullies, and kids that threw tantrums, and kids that broke windows, and kids that talked back, and kids that dropped out of school, and kids that were disrespectful, and kids that grew up to be adults that could not be held accountable for anything in their lives. I could take the British nanny seriously if this was not the case. I could consider the modern parenting crises if we were seeing the toddler tantrum for the first time since the dawn of time.
On one hand, we say that we want kids to be inquisitive, curious, playful and smart. On the other hand, we want them to be the little soldiers that obey without questioning. We want them to do what we tell them to do. Now.
I yet have to see the generation that will think the younger ones are better than they were. I yet have to see the older generation saying: "These kids are so much better than we ever were! Holy criminy! Lucky us, to be surrounded by these youngsters!" In the history of the world it has not happened. Skirts are always too short, or hair too long, or tattoos too vulgar, or music too loud, or language too WTF, or opinions too liberal...the next generation is always the lousiest one that will drive this world to its grave.
Which gives me comfort. We are doing fine. And the kids are all right.