A Series of Random Thoughts, Part 1: Our Children Can’t Cope

Another article was plastered on MSN’s front page this morning when I logged in. Another kid killed himself because of bullying. This particular kid had even changed schools to get away from the bullying but then it started again at his new school. The bullying, according to the article, was based on the boy being very smart, and also being short in stature.  At one point, bullies even took to throwing stones and pipes while chasing him and shouting names. So, as a final answer, the boy hung himself in the family’s apartment.

Now, I am not making light of this or any other suicide based on bullying. In fact, while any comments I am about to make may come off as cold or uncaring, it isn’t directed toward the kids – or even adults – who have “had enough” and taken their own lives. But I suppose the following view point comes from someone who has just had enough of society in general and the way we have fell into an “accepting” and “gentle” nature as human beings, ignoring our problems and trying to teach each person that they are an individual and deserve all the same rights and respect as everyone else.

Well, now that didn’t sound right either, did it? Let me see, how to explain myself. Let me try breaking it down a little bit more.

I’m not sure exactly when it began, but I know it was after the 90’s (mid-90’s at any rate) when we started deciding to shelter our children. Well, I take that back, too. The schools and society decided to start sheltering our children. Many parents – some like myself that were raised in a bit tougher manner, complete with spankings, groundings, no electronics to have taken away – continued on their own path. We were already set in our ways. But then came this new generation of parents. This new generation doesn’t believe in spanking or grounding. They want to talk about a problem until it vanishes – or else ignore it and pretend it never happened. If there is a temper tantrum, they try to appease their child, usually throwing their hands up at onlookers and laughing, saying, “Oh, he/she’s so hard headed, I just don’t know what to do.” (HINT: jerk them up, take down their pants and wear the rear end out).

So this new generation of parent came in behind us. They were soft, gentle, didn’t know how or just didn’t want to discipline their children. Their children were unique, special, individual snow flakes unlike any other. They weren’t disciplined, they were psychoanalyzed and given medication to calm them down so parents didn’t have to deal with them. (No, I’m not saying conditions such as ADHD and such do not exist, I’m just saying that there sure are a lot of cases these days considering parents don’t seem to know how to make their children mind.)  Soon, school were following right in behind them. They had also decided that we needed to raise a kinder, gentler society. But then again, schools have always had the wrong idea.

In school, you had to conform to what they wanted society to be like. If you had a brownie, you couldn’t eat it unless everyone else had a brownie, too. If you had one of the super-sized box of crayons, they would confiscate it because it might make the other kids feel inadequate because they only had a 12-count box of crayons. We didn’t want to make anyone feel u n c o m f o r t a b l e. But the one thing I would give schools credit for “back in my day” was the fact that they would discipline unruly children. Paddlings! Archaic methods of punishment, maybe, but I’ve seen many a peer come back into a classroom, face red, tears streaming down their face and the threat of sending a letter home to their parents.

Did you know that teachers are not allowed to spank children anymore unless they have a signed consent form from the parents at the beginning of the school year?

At some point, we decided to take all punishment out of the school system. I suppose they still give in school suspension and even expel students if it is severe enough. But really, in school suspension would be like a vacation to me. Taken out of the general public, put in a special class room where I could be alone and do my work and get the day over with? YES PLEASE! And I can see why punishment has nearly been eliminated in schools – it’s because we, as Americans, think it is our God Given Right to sue over everything. Schools are afraid to even brush shoulders with a student in the hallway because the kid might tell their parent the teacher dislocated their shoulder and all hell would break loose.

So, we have weak parents that don’t want to discipline their children. Schools are not allowed to “punish” students anymore for fear of being sued. Both of these have led to the ultimate point here (finally) in that no one cares or wants to be involved with the children anymore, therefore letting them run rampant like a subsection of society with their own governing rules and lives. “Let’s not interfere, we might have to pretend we care.”

I know, that is a broad statement. There are actually parents and teachers out there who do care – but I can say, without a doubt, that there are just as many – if not more – that couldn’t care less.

So, the parents can’t be bothered. The teachers don’t care or are scared to act. The kids run rampant or try to fit in.

BAM … full circle, baby. We’re back around to where I started this blog post at. Now let’s see if I can tie the ends together the way I have it in my head.

Because of our (society) inaction in raising our kids anymore, the young ‘uns are unprepared to cope with reality. There are going to be bullies, there are going to be bad days, there are going to be heartbreaks and tears and pains. Life is not fair, I don’t care if you are in the 1% or the 99%. Make a millions dollars a year or barely break 20k a year. Life is going to let you down, but what you have to do is hang in there for the times it’s going to lift you up, too. But here we are in 2012, in a generation of fragile little caterpillars that aren’t even ready to transform into big old butterflies, and they’re killing themselves off left and right. They can’t handle it. They can’t hack it. It’s too much pressure in their little pre-teen and teenage lives.

Really? Let me say this: boys, girls, gather around Uncle J for a moment. I want to share something with you. Read the next paragraph closely and try to understand what I’m saying to you because, honestly, I know you’re cool enough to have gotten this far in my rambling here. I’m even going to bold it so you know it is important and comes straight from the heart, okay?

It get’s better. You are young, going to school, learning, growing, experiencing dozens of new emotions and physical changes inside and outside your body. Your mind is expanding at a rate you probably can’t comprehend, sucking up everything you see, touch, hear, taste. You’re growing. Do you know what that means? Growing? It means you aren’t done yet. You’re still baking in the oven of life, my friend, and THAT means you haven’t even begun to live yet. 

I’m sure all this teenage and pre-teen drama is exciting and heartbreaking and all, but you need to buck up and realize that that isn’t all there is. 98% of what you think you know and what you believe you will do when you are “grown” is B.S. You’ll never do even half of it, mostly likely because life has other plans for you. That girlfriend or boyfriend probably won’t be with you past high school. Your friends will change and/or you’ll lose contact if your bonds aren’t strong enough. You will realize just how small a phase your teenage life was.

Those bullies will grow up to enter the real world and have bullies of their own. Life will his you all equally, and those high school days will be washed away into the distant corners of your memory. All you have to do … all I’m asking you to do … is hang on! Hang in there and pull through. It’s a measly 12 years (and not even a constant 12 years, depending on where you live. Not every school system has year-round school). Don’t kill yourself, don’t kill other people! Just hang in there! PLEASE!! Otherwise, you’ve proven me right and our future is doomed because we can’t even raise a generation ready to step out into the world. Because let me add these last 2-cents: if you think high school is the only place in your life that you will meet bullies or people abusing power, then you are mistaken. Use your young years to learn how to really and truly cope with them, don’t give in and let them take you to a dark place. 

Now, I realize there are going to be arguments to this post. Things like, “Oh, bullies these days are vicious. They won’t back down. They beat, verbally abuse, throw things, harass, spread horrible gossip, etc, etc, etc.”

Well, you know what? You just described every place I’ve ever worked. Graduating high school isn’t going to get these kids away from bullies. It will just introduce them to a whole new set of bullies with brand new rules on how they can or can’t be dealt with. And if they can’t deal with them, I’m ready to blame us – all of us – for not preparing out kids better. Especially the parents of my generation. We grew up learning this internet thing from the beginning. We are part of the “Social,” and we are responsible for monitoring our children as they grow and learn and join us in this online world. But more importantly, we’re responsible for teaching them respect, morales and how to stand their ground when the time comes. We, as parents, must invest the time in our young to instill in them – as best we can – the values that will – hopefully – keep them alive and keep a rope off their neck or a gun out of their hand.

It’s a dice roll. Sometimes your numbers will come up, sometimes you’re gonna lose the bet. But at least you will have tried. And if you are invested in your kid, if you know their mannerisms and can/should be able to spot when something is wrong, then you will probably be able to prevent things like this from happening. And this whole idea that they need their space and privacy and we shouldn’t discipline them because it will make them horrible people? What the hell is wrong with you?! If you young son or daughter has a Facebook page, Twitter account or writes in a blog, then you need to know about it. You need to educate yourself so that you know where and how to look for these things. Passwords shouldn’t be secret, nor should anything a child writes while living under your roof. You aren’t being nosey, you’re being a parent, and that’s what our youth needs more than anything.

So, kids: it gets better. Roll with it. I know life is tough, I was bullied. In fact, one of my bullies – the worst one – even had a job at my first place of employment. So when I graduated high school, he was still there! But he was a punk, a thug and eventually lost his job. For all I know, he is probably in jail now. It’s going to be rough, but high school is a minor part of your life. hang in there and then leave it in your dust if that’s how you feel when it’s all over.

Parents: don’t assume your kids are fine. Don’t think you are hurting them if you discipline them or pry into their lives. That’s what they need. They’re learning and growing and don’t know how to handle everything that comes their way at this age. They’re a garden that needs pruning, tilling, and all that gardeny stuff. Get your hands in there and get dirty with them.

And readers: if you’ve made it this far, I hope I didn’t offend too much. I know my writing is all over the place, but that’s how I think. My fingers just try to keep up. Thank you for taking the time to read and please feel free to comment below.

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