The Family Project: parenting keys
Q. Is it my imagination, or are children more out of control than ever before? In public, I see children misbehaving and parents either ignoring or unable to control their off-springs’ behavior. What is going on?
The team’s conversation began with the statement that “for better or worse, as a society we’ve gotten so much more casual.”
Panelist Wanda Mercado-Arroyo said, “When I was a teacher in elementary school, I remember that every year the classes changed. If I compare my first group of students in 1985 to those of my last group in 1999, there was a huge difference when it came to behavior.“
Panelist Denise Continenza said a teacher friend told her that she [the friend] never expected to be hit with “the F-bomb” in the classroom. “Now it is an everyday occurrence.
“I never dreamed of calling my friends anything but Mr. or Mrs., but many of my good friends tell me they would be more comfortable if their kids called them by their first names,” Continenza continued.
Mercado-Arroyo added, “Sometimes parents tend to want to be more of a friend. They say they don’t want to stress their children with discipline, guidelines and expectations.” She emphasized that “parents need to realize that children need a parent, not a friend. They need that structured relationship.”
Recognizing that parents work, are tired, and will give in just to keep peace, Continenza noted that “kids today have learned that they don’t have to work too hard to get what they want.” As for ignoring their children’s bad behavior, she said, “Parents are so busy or stressed out that they often are oblivious that their kids are climbing up a wall. Kids don’t get the discipline they need. The missing link is consistency and discipline.”
There is also a lack of consistency about right and wrong values, panelist Mike Daniels said: “The only time parents have conversations with their kids about values is when they [the kids] mess up. Parents don’t take advantage of the opportunities when the kids do something right.”
Daniels noted, “In the past two generations, we have seen more growth in technology and information availability than in the last 2,000 years.” He said children are overexposed to information technology. “The Internet is always available.”
Daniels also concluded that there is a more relaxed style of parenting today: “Kids have always pushed the boundaries, and as parents relax the boundary between themselves and their children, the kids will continue to push.”
To put the issue in perspective, the following quote from a well-respected source was read by the panel:
“The children now have luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise. Children are now tyrants.” - Attributed by Plato to Socrates
This week’s team of parenting experts are: Pam Wallace, Program Coordinator, Project Child, a program of Valley Youth House; Chad Stefanyak, school counselor; Wanda Mercado-Arroyo; educator and former school administrator; Denise Continenza, Extension Educator, Food, Families and Health, Penn State Extension, and Mike Daniels, LCSW, Psychotherapist, CTS.
Have a question? Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. The Family Project weekly column is a collaboration of the Lehigh Valley Press Focus section and Valley Youth House’s Project Child.