Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Parenthood: The (Sort of) Uninformed Opinion

When looking at the demeanor of young children and teenagers in today's society, there is a generality that cannot be ignored: kids that we label as "good" have (and again this is in general, not always) pretty involved and loving parents and kids that we label as "bad" or "troublesome" have ignorant, inconsiderate, or unloving parents (if they do have parents in their lives at all).  Of course there are exceptions; there are plenty of kids that have come from abusive or broken homes and have thrived and become upstanding citizens.  In the same way there are kids that came from some of the most nurturing homes imaginable and have ended up as menaces to society.  In general, though, it is the actions and attitudes of parents that will determine how a child develops and how they act towards the people around them.

As we look at the decline in society, the seemingly everlasting free fall into immorality, we can also see an even steeper decline in the quality of parenting and the overall American family.  I, of course, do not have children myself so I cannot claim to be an expert.  However, I do come from a great family, a loving, nurturing, and supportive family; and I am a teacher with a group of students that come from a blend of broken and sustained homes.  In addition I have friends that have come from a mixture of homes and my opinions are based on what I have observed throughout my life as an education student and teacher.

Generally speaking, kids are not really self-motivated when it comes to succeeding in school.  Like most of us when we were young, they would rather socialize with their friends, watch television, or play outside.  Grades are seemingly the last thing on their mind.  It takes the outside motivation from parents (and teachers) to instill in them the desire to do well.  Children that have parents who healthfully drive them to do well in school grow and develop to have that same drive themselves.  It is, of course, easy and common for parents to overdo their motivation and they end up hating education more than when they started.  However, if parents are able to find a happy medium when challenging their children to do well, the kids will have a much better work ethic and understanding of the importance of hard work.

On the other hand, parents who do not care about the work their children do or back up teachers' attempts to get kids to turn in quality work are subliminally teaching their kids that working hard is not important.  In addition to not learning the importance of good work, these kids also do not have an appreciation for responsibility.  Stereotypically (and I do hate that term), children that are taught the importance of hard work have a deeper sense of responsibility, which in turn helps them later in life as they stand up for their actions and accept any consequences that may result of what they did (or take more pride in the reward that comes as a result).  Children who do not work hard and do not have to face any consequences at home grow up not having a good sense of responsibility, which in turn causes them to try and run away from any problem they may face in life.

Is this not what we see all around us in today's society?  People who have never been held accountable are beginning to enter the workforce and (arguable worse) procreate.  There is an increasing amount of lower and middle class workers who have never had to answer for anything they have done or said, and this effects their work ethic.  When they are fired for doing unsatisfactory work or other forms of nonprofessional, they blame the "Man" and join protests against big businesses.  They were never told by their parents when they were doing wrong; it was always someone else's fault.  How is it a surprise that they take this attitude everywhere they go?

The point I am getting at is that it is up to parents to determine the future of this country.  If children are brought up to appreciate hard work and learn the importance of responsibility, then our worries about the economic situation for the future generations will become obsolete, for they will be able to build on the hard work many politicians and public figures are doing now to get us out of recession (e.g. Scott Walker, Ron Johnson, Paul Ryan, and others).  However, if we allow children to be lazy and do not reprimand them when they show an unwillingness to try, our concerns will be validated.  It is not entirely up to our government to prepare for the future; it mostly up to parents.

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