Defending “Kids These Days”

Blog 03-28-18 Trey & Joshy video game

I’ve heard so many members of older generations raggin’ on younger folks:

“What’s wrong with kids these days?”

“Kids are so lazy now days.”

“When I was a kid we played outside. Kids today are like vampires, they don’t even wanna GO outside!”

“Why would kids rather play video games than play outside?”

I heard one old fart (excuse the French but that’s what he was acting like) really being mean-spirited about “kids these days.”

“Kids are just mean, nasty and lazy these days. They’d rather play on their tablets or the computers or their video games than play outside. In my day we’d play outside from sun-up to sundown, but you barely see younger folks outside anymore at all.”

I’d had enough of it, and said, “Excuse me, but I’ve gotta question for ya: what’s the first thing we tell kids about going out into the big, bad world? That it’s dangerous, right? That the ‘boogeyman will get them.’ That there are ‘bad people’ out there who will ‘take them away forever, and they’ll never get to see mommy or daddy again.’ We tell ‘em that to protect ‘em, sure, but that means if the kids go outside, the parents have to take ’em out and watch ’em. A lot of parents have to work to make a living, so that automatically limits the time they have. So when they DO have time, they have to make an effort. Some parents do and some don’t. I don’t know about you, man, but for me, personally, I’d rather kids AT LEAST play video games, so they can develop hand-to-eye coordination and work on problem-solving skills, than staring at the television all day.”

That pretty well shut him up, which wasn’t my intention, but a bonus nonetheless.

Obviously we have to be careful what video games we let our kids play. This should go without saying, but I had to throw that in there, so it doesn’t appear I’m “endorsing all video games.” As my son—who is still an avid gamer, even though he goes to college, works part-time and is 19 years old—was growing up, we monitored the games he purchased, and had to say “no” to a few of them. That’s part of parenting.

My wife and I probably didn’t take our kids outside to play enough, but we did take them out quite a bit. This takes effort on a guardian’s part; you have to be willing to put the time in and sacrifice a bit if you want the kid to see the sunshine.

Another comment I read on social media from older folks is how “kids these days” need to be spanked.

I fully agree we need more discipline, as opposed to letting kids run rampant. They need to understand there are limits and boundaries, and consequences when they cross those boundaries. I further agree that “time outs” don’t always work, although I’d like to assert that, for some kids, they do.

We had to spank my daughter (who turns 30 this August) a few times when she was growing up, although she was a great kid and this was rare. My wife and I started out having to occasionally spank my son, but honestly, that just seemed to hurt his feelings instead of making him re-examine his behavior. When we tried the “time out” method, however, it was incredibly effective. He was so hyperactive, making him sit still—in the madness of silence with no TV or video games—drove him crazy and made him NOT want to repeat the punishable action.

But “discipline” is only a small part of the problem. We have to show love, patience and long-suffering.

Let’s say a kid accidentally spills milk on the floor (“Lost Boys” style); do we sigh, roll our eyes, make some off-the-cuff comment, or just clean it up and say, “Try to be more careful?” I’m far from perfect, and I’m sure I did my share of sighing and eye-rolling, but I put forth a grand effort and was always quick to apologize if I’d crossed the line from “discipline” to “mean-spirited.”

TRYING is the key.

I feel I’m at least partially qualified to address these matters, as we raised two awesome kids, man. My daughter is a Hospice nurse, and one of the funniest, nicest, smartest and most self-assured people I know. AND she’s a great mom in her own right. My son is equally amazing, which makes me doubly blessed.

Kids need to feel like they are a gift, not a burden.

We have to pay attention to them. We have to encourage and love them, and tell them they are amazing and wonderful. It takes work, but is so worth it.

I can say that from experience; my wife and I decided decades ago that family time was more important than working after-hours and weekends. Sure there are times having to work off-campus is unavoidable, but that’s where “quality time” comes in.

When I was doing my graduate work in Criminal Justice, I was also working full-time and, for nearly a year, working an internship at a local prison, which was a half-hour’s drive from our home. I was going crazy from being so busy and had very little free time. With my son being around 9 or 10, though, I knew that was a critical age and he needed both his mom and dad.

So my wife had the bright idea of having “guy time” once a week. This would be a three-to-four hour period where he and I would do “guy stuff,” like watch “guy movies,” go to the park or whatever we felt like doing. When we watched guy movies, my son always sat in the recliner, which had been dubbed “dad’s chair.” HE chose the movie, HE controlled the remote and HE chose the snacks and drinks.

He was in control, and he LOVED it.

We still have guy time, and I recently heard my five-year-old grandson mention something about it. He, my son and I were going somewhere, just the three of us, and he said, “We’ll have a little guy time, huh, Poppy?”

It made me realize we have to redefine “guy time” to include him. This may mean watching “The Littlest Vampire” instead of “Silence of the Lambs,” but that’s ok. I asked my son if he’s ok with that, and him being the kind-hearted soul he is, he completely agreed. We both want my grandson to feel loved and appreciated.

Bottom line: if you never put in the time to actually hang out with a kid, to love them, to laugh with them and to make them feel protected, then, in my humble opinion, you have no right to rag on “kids these days.”

Just my thoughts.

Blessings.

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