Sometimes if you take time to eavesdrop at a breakfast table of middle aged (or older folks) at a restaurant or listen to the conversation in a beauty parlor, you’ll hear comments like “Kids today, I don’t know what the world is coming to” or “This generation! Tsk, Tsk”.
I’m as guilty as the rest of my generation and those older of making the same sweeping generalizations, but I should know better.
Do you know why I should know better? Because I am a parent of one of these “kids today.” And do you know what? She’s pretty awesome, smart, and almost every day, if I’m paying attention, she teaches me something.
We had the privilege of standing in the cold wind Saturday morning for the Milton community Easter egg scramble with lots of other children and parents. Do you know what I observed? Not a single child tried to collect eggs before the whistle. And, at least twice within my small field of view, older children gave up an egg so that a younger child could toddle over and pick it up—without a parent telling them to. And further more, my own daughter, looking at her bucket said, “I think that’s enough.”
When I replied, “There are more eggs; you can have more,” she said, “No thank you. That’s enough.”
So when I think about the headlines in the newspaper about middle school children passing around bowlfuls of prescription drugs at parties that their parents don’t know about, I have to wonder, “Who modeled that behavior?”
Because, children learn what is modeled for them.
Perhaps it’s the barrage of ads on television, the internet and magazines telling everyone that a pill will make their lives better. “Just ask your doctor,” one friend tells another on TV, “I tried it and it worked great for me.” And, the subtext: “If you take this pill you will be beautiful, successful at your job, have a great house with a perfect lawn, a spouse and 2.75 children.” And the further subtext: “A doctor prescribed it; it’s legal and safe.”
What are we modeling for our children?
When a teenager is sullen, rude and refuses to give a parent or grandparent the time of day, who modeled that behavior? Is it the parent who chose to spend time on Facebook playing Farmville or Farkle or drafting Fantasy Football players instead of paying attention to the child who wanted to go outside and play catch or Horse? Is it the parent who doesn’t read to a child, who never gets down on the floor with a child to play “pop its” or “dolls” or “racing cars”?
My daughter gave me a reality check today. She’s three, and she picks up on a lot. She likes to imitate what Mom and Dad do, whether it’s cooking or cleaning or hunting furiously for her “car keys” before we head out the door to Grandma’s. Well, she imitated me today.
We were playing with some wooden blocks at Grandma’s. I picked up a red block. She was busy pulling all the green ones out of the plastic bag.
“What color is this block?” I held up the red block.
She barely glanced in my direction. “Red.”
“Can you spell red?” I asked. “Can you sing the red song?”
“No, I’m busy.” She replied matter-of-factly, turning her back to me.
Everyone laughed at the “little adult”, but I cringed.
Kids today. They pick up on everything we “adults today” model for them.
Perhaps we should take some time and think about that.
© 2010 Michele Arduengo. All rights reserved.