Neverending Daycare as a Way of Life


I have been on this planet for fifty-three years.  A Gen Xer.  We grew up on punk rock, wanting to be the opposite of our hippie parents and wanted to grow up fast.  We grew up without helmets, curfews, and not free from consequences. We had societal consequences for poor behavior and judgement.  If we screwed up, we paid the price, learned from the experience and hope to not repeat.  This correction came from parents, coaches, bosses and random adults on the street.  The police weren’t called.  Adults handled the situation and we listened.  As teenage boys, we feared our friend’s fathers and respected their mothers.

Teenagers today would not survive in that world where there were no cellphones, Internet, constant entertainment and “safe spaces.”  I have never heard the term “safe” as much as I have heard over the last couple years. The world is not safe regardless of how anyone perceives it. For those who hold this perception as true, I suggest going to a foreign country and experiencing how different America truly is.  No one cared about your feelings.  Bullies were common and were either dealt with or not.  You were afraid to lose your job if you didn’t go above and beyond and there was no “calling in sick” if you did not want to work that day.  Mental health days would have been ridiculed.  There was no whining.  There was overcoming challenges and the option to try again if you failed without any guarantee of success or in many cases sympathy. Trophies meant that you were one of the best in that particular activity.

What happened?  We, as a group, decided to get soft.  Technology has provided an environment where one can live an easy and soft life. We subconsciously agreed to not let anything bad happen to our children.  Everyone won and everyone was told they were the best.  Even when they weren’t even close.  This fiction twisted our American youth with no non-painful remedy.  We sent these kids out into the world with a distorted view that everything was going to go their way and when it did not it was acceptable to throw a temper tantrum and blame others. 

A long time ago, I told my sons that if they continued to be men who were strong, responsible, and respectful, they would find themselves strange amongst their peers.  My forecast proved true, and they repeatedly confirm the strangeness they feel with stories from their workplaces and social lives.  It is sad when we live in a culture that raises children to be completely unequipped to handle life’s darker side.  We are not preparing our children to be productive and responsible adults.  Adults that accept responsibility and take pride in being an adult that perseveres over life’s challenges.

As an American society, we are doing to opposite of what parents should do regarding the raising of children.  We are enabling childish behavior and protecting our children from consequences and in many cases, blaming everyone but themselves.  This approach makes life more difficult and creates an environment where daily trials appear to be a crisis. 

Enabling bad behavior and avoiding responsibility does not bode well for an individual’s future and is difficult to correct without pain.  This pain comes from situations where consequences cannot be avoided, such as illness, loss of a loved one, job, etc.  It will happen as it has to all of us at one time. There is no safe space in a dark alley while walking home from a wine bar at night.  There is no safe space from not paying your rent or mortgage.  There is no safe space from cancer or death. When something bad happens, what does one do? Call mom or dad?  The police? They resolve the problem in the best possible method and move on.  Pick yourself up, dust it off and keep moving. Years ago, a friend of mine, an older Marine drill sergeant at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, stated after a rough day in training new recruits that “he could not fix eighteen years of sh#*y parenting in fifteen weeks”.  Sad but true. 

How do we, as American adults, fix this?  We must remember our aunts, uncles, family friends and mentors of years ago and start being leaders again.  Being a good leader is leading by example.  We need to not capitulate to erroneous arguments, enable bad and destructive behavior and start showing the younger generations that they are capable of more than consuming social media, being entertained and being a passenger to their own lives. 

This condition that is afflicting our children can be fixed.  We just need to be adults and, more importantly, parents and not friends.

AOF – American on Fire is a private citizen who has had enough.

Image: Pixabay

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