Society lately has been driving me nuts. Reading friend's comments on Facebook confirms that I'm not alone. The feeling of entitlement, of expecting everything to be done for us without having to work for it, pervades the general consensus in our country. Obviously, it isn't demonstrates by everyone, but there are enough spoiled brats to ruin it for everyone.
If we want to change the abounding attitude, we have to start with what we teach our kids. (This is a message to those who recognize there needs to be a change. Those who don't see a problem are as bad as the kids.)
Let's start with what those kids are thinking.
The problem with kids today, as I see it, is that they are trying so hard to be liked. Okay, so that isn't the problem per se. It's how they're doing it. Thanks to TV, everyone thinks the person to be liked is the one that makes you laugh.
And the problem with THAT is that comedy has taken a turn in the past few decades. The rise of the smart-alec has killed the innocence of our kids.
Think back to the black and whites from the 60's. Leave It to Beaver, Father Knows Best, Andy Griffith. Kids were funny for their innocence. They often did the wrong thing, but were terrified of what their parents would do. We never saw the parent actually physically punish the child, but it was clear the parent's word would be respected... "or else."
There were a handful of smart alecs back then, namely Eddie Hascal, but nobody liked him! No one wanted to be an Eddie, and we all wondered why the heck Wally would be his friend.
Years passed, and a funny thing happened. Little by little, sarcasm infiltrated our programming. Look at what kids started watching in the 70's and 80's. I love The Muppet Show. There's a lot of good stuff in there. Even to this day it cracks me up. It was so good that many parents liked watching with their kids. Only, it wasn't the cheesy Fozzy Bear jokes making Mom and Dad laugh, it was Statler and Waldorf in the balcony, making fun of the show. Parents laughed, kids paid attention.
Fast forward on that Betamax tape a few years and you hit the Cosby years. There was hope then, as we returned to kids living in reverent fear of the disappointment of their parents. But back it up a little. A show that was pretty popular when I was in second grade, though it didn't last long, was ALF. He was KNOWN as a "wisecracking" alien. Not a show to be taken seriously, but for the first time, someone in prime time was making fun of the man of the house and getting away with it. The major problem was the kid-appeal of the show. A giant stuffed animal getting away with backtalk? And opening a can of laughter when he did it? Hmm.
Cosby was excellent, and he had a good run. But as the kids got older, (and new ones came) the younger audience lost interest. Where were they turning for laughs?
The Simpsons. Prime time cartoons in the era when cartoons were still reserved for Saturday mornings. Even watching the show -a cartoon in the evening- seemed to be cheating. We almost felt guilty.
Until my generation starting picking up the Bart Simpson disrespect. Since Homer was a dolt, there seemed to be no harm in his attitude.
Kids started testing the waters - talking back to parents, teachers, and even each other - and got away with it. Personally, I don't think adults knew what to do. Our parents never saw Ward Cleaver have to discipline Eddie Hascal. He just sent the rascal home.
So kids got away with it. And Bart was cool. So was anyone who could be a perfect Bart. Frustrate the authority, and you are king of the kids.
Who doesn't want that title? Too be cool, you've got to be the quickest to spit out the cutting one-liners. With lack of discipline, kids don't care what the adults think. They only care what their peers think.
If we want to see a change in the attitude of this generation, we need to reclaim our authority and respect. We need to make kids pay attention to us again. Without fail, we adults need to show our children that we were put in their lives to guide them. We have lived longer than they have, learned from more mistakes, and thanked our parents for our education. It's hard, but it's worth it.
If we want to see a respectful attitude in America, let's show our kids what it looks like.
Passion Under Grace,