Saturday, October 27, 2007

Are the Monsters in Charge?!

Where do I begin? Are some parents conscious that they're raising little monsters? Do these people know the consequences of raising irresponsible, entitlement minded ogres?? What has gotten into the mindset of today's young parents that they think their little angel can do no wrong, and should never be held accountable for their actions?? There are so many examples I could give of what I've seen, had to deal with, and stories I've heard; no doubt readers here could add their experiences. Respect for elders, Respect for authority, Respect for people's property?? I wonder if many young parents know what this concept is, and therefore, are unable to import that knowledge into their hatchlings?? I wonder if many parents of today's teens are as ostriches, or absentee landlords neglecting upkeep, or perhaps they've lost the "user manual" somewhere along the way.
I was raised with the R word, let me tell you! My mother's parents were from the American south, and boy was I drilled with the R word. My hide was tanned more than once for mouthing off, but it was never child abuse. I think Not to discipline a child, and Not to teach them self-Respect and proper Respectful conduct is child abuse!! Has common sense left, and fear and denial stayed?? In the USA, age-appropriate spanking a child on the bum is legal, but this is so often unnecessary if parenting is done in a fair and consistent manner. Are these parents so afraid of the 'establishment' that they are in fear of getting into trouble for disciplining their child? Perhaps they should refer to the dictionary for the definition of discipline versus punishment. Or, perhaps, they honestly have some guilt complex and appear to believe that if they discipline their child that they are going to somehow ruin his/her self-esteem, and therefore ruin his/her life? This is a complex issue with no easy answer. I've only touched briefly on some of the what might be going on with today's problems with raising children, and I'm hoping to follow up with more. I'd love to hear your opinions!


Scots said...

Respect ... that's one word I like! Too many kids these days use another R word ... "RIGHTS" .. in my opinion rights come with responsibilities and the two shouldn't be parted.

In my experience, children like discipline. They like to know the boundaries and have them clearly set out for them. They like to know what happens if they cross the line ... and some will test the waters to see if you are telling the truth or just threatening ... and they will want to know what the rewards are for staying within the set boundaries.

I take this from much experience of working with children who have some or severe behavioural issues.

Children also crave the assurance that they are respected and have an adult they can rely on that isn't sending mixed messages.

A vast number of the parents at my school need to learn about discipline, respect, rights-responsibilities before their children have any chance of doing so.

PS ... I LOVE the scots dictionary on your sidebar :o)

His Girl Friday said...

Hi Scots,
thanks for responding!

oh, yeah, the other R're Right about that!! :)
I agree with the two R's needing to be taught together, as well as the parents needing to be taught...which is one of my questions...what has happened? How have we landed so far from what has worked for previous generations...has the issue of 'child abuse' swung the pendulum so far the other way as to cause this generation to be afraid to discipline their child? Again, I note discipline rather than punishment...

As a mother of three kids, two of whom are teens, trust me, I know child rearing "ain't" easy...I've learned about 'mixed messages'...they are bad. Although, I'm not a horse trainer by vocation, I've also learned this in working with young horses...don't send mixed messages...esp when the 'child' weighs 1000lbs/455kgs!!! Firm, fair, consistent messages, with positive affirmation is the key. Nip things/problems early, communicate as clearly and directly as possible, do your best to leave on a positive note...hey, perhaps there's more in common with horse training and child rearing than I thought!! ;)

I'm glad you like the Scots dictionary! The written words of "haud yir wheest!" (not directed at me) first got my attention, then my interest was peaked when I was asked "furry boots?"! From then on, I was hooked and wanted to know more! ;)
To be honest, I love learning of others' cultures and languages. Scots is an interesting language, I find the words vibrant and expressive; and, I hope more is done to preserve and encourage the use of it! I hope to intertwine more Scots words in my I hope Scottish readers will be patient with any errors in 'translation' (please feel free to correct!)

This is also another interesting site:

¡Hasta la vez próxima! (until next time!) :)

PJ said...

I totally agree with your comments HGF. Much of the problems Society faces today can be directly attributed to a lack of respect, whether that be for people or property. This respect must be taught within the home by parents. This is not, as many think, a school based responsibility.
It is also, as 'Scots' said, a two way road, the young must see evidence of respect to them. All to many of us discount the youth culture as being all the same, they're not. As with everything there's a lot of good out there, but it's only the bad we get to read about and see on TV everyday.

His Girl Friday said...

Hi PJ,
thanks for commenting! I agree that it is a two way road for giving respect; and, there are also a lot of good kids out there!! :)

ciara said...

my stepson has yet to earn my respect because he respects no one and nothing. i say this because his mother's family, my husband, and even his family, have coddled him for many years due to his mother being an alcoholic/drug user. her latest stint had her in the hospital in critical care...stepson doesn't know she almost died from an overdose. they've always done whatever he wanted, let him have whatever he wanted, say/talk to ppl they way he wanted to and made it 'ok' because he's 'had a hard time' w his mother. to me, that's just a bs excuse. but then, i'm not fond of any kid being disrepectful for ANY reason.

it's funny cuz my girls were pretty well behaved for the most part until i married my husband...then they saw my stepson doing what he was doing and wondered why they couldn't do it. they did start to get a little disrespectful from it as well, but see, unlike my husband, i will spank or discipline. i don't let things just go...because that is HIS way of handling things. in some ways, i think he 'rewards' his son's bad behavior. i have rules in the house and my stepson is the one who keeps breaking them over n over.

i do believe that my stepson has that need for affirmation/acceptance in his life so he'll cling to whatever person gives him the time of day...i keep telling my husband that he has to help him cope w things better because he is emotionally inept. what i find unfortunate is that i see some of the characteristics of his mother in him...just hope he doesn't go in her direction

i raised one (he's 20) fairly well i think...he's responsible, he can take care of himself, and even though he's a bit sarcastic at times, he's fairly respectful. but my thing was to always keep my lines of communication open. i have always told my kids that if they EVER needed to talk about anything, anything at all, they could always come to me. my son has during the years, and my girl who will be 11 in feb does now. i listen and i validate their feelings. sometimes i think kids lash out, get disrespectful, etc., because they just want to be heard. and i just let my kids know: I'M LISTENING

ciara said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
gp said...

you guys are so on the mark... love what scots said. (R)ight on folks

gp in montana

Anonymous said...

Yes siree, a guid hammering did me nae herm!!!

Fuchsia Girl said...

Loved this post - it's so reassuring to know that the problem is a global one and not just in my back yard! I don't feel quite so alone now. And I do so agree with all the other posts and comments.

Here's my thoughts on the matter.

I was brought up in a military household by a father and a mother who supported each other no matter what. And it worked - they sang from the same song sheet and us kids just knew we couldn't play one off against the other, even though at times we tried.

I think one of the main reasons for the break down in respect from children in today's society stems from the break down in family relationships and marriage. Very often the children are used by warring parents against the other and so the children end up very confused. Children need boundaries which are clearly defined; unfortunately these boundaries can be very different in the two separate households and very often chaos reigns!

My philosophy is that children are entitled to the following: unconditional love, an education, a bed to sleep in, food in their belly and clothes on their back. I learnt this from a very wise grandmother. Everything else is at my discretion and has to be earnt. It seems to work in this household even though it's a second family and although it gets tried, tested and the boundaries pushed at times (they are all teenagers after all), what we say goes. The kids might not like us for it at times but I reckon we are respected and at the end of the day it's our job to prepare them for adult life and turn them out into the big bad world as reasonable, responsible and respectful young adults.

My eldest son has been living independently since he was 17 years old (he's 19 now) and is a lovely well balanced young man - polite, well mannered and as well as respecting me and his Dad, he is respected by us too.

There's a big blame culture out there at the moment and I don't think its helped by the huge increase in litigation - this only seems to encourage folk to blame someone else and not take responsibilty for their own actions.

I don't know where it will end - I can only do my bit and lead by example.

His Girl Friday said...

Hi Anon,
yer proof that a skelp or twa disnae mak a greetin face! ;)

Hi Fuschia girl,
thanks for stopping by! Yes, it does help to know that you're not alone...I like your philosophy!!

Hi gp,
I liked what you said about horses on your blog, it really can apply to children, as well.

Hi Ciara,
sorry to hear about your step-son, that is a difficult situation you're in. I do believe you are right on spot with the open communication, and also importantly, the validation of feelings. Sometimes, all they want is to be heard, to know that they matter, and that someone cares!! :)

storyteller said...

As a "happily retired" educator (with 34 years in the classroom & 5 years of after-school playground experience), I observed the steady shift away from accountability to freedom without restraint or appropriate consequence. These observations led me to retire earlier than intended when a nifty "Golden Handshake" package and beneficial changes in retirement regulations opened a window of opportunity in 2001.

I concur that children desire discipline (even when they're outwardly angry with it in the heat of the moment). They NEED limits and boundaries ... and (quite naturally) look to the ones who love them for such guidance. When the adults in their lives are too busy to notice and respond, they look elsewhere for role models and validation, and (as the Quote accompanying the photograph in the previous post indicates) they'll find ways to entertain themselves.

I don't recall the source, but the following words have remained in my mind for years, and I offer them here for your consideration this morning. "We were so busy giving our children what we didn't have that we forgot to give them what we did."

I believe children show us through their actions what they're learning and what they need from us. We need to have enough respect for ourselves & others to step up, hold kids responsible for their choices by letting them experience appropriate consequences (lovingly and with self-discipline) ... leading by example. Kids learn from what we DO, not from what we say. Congruence of word & deed is essential.

His Girl Friday said...

Hi Storyteller,
well said!! I've heard from others who have left early due to the circumstances you mentioned. This was one of the reasons I chose to pull my kids out of public school (state school? for UK readers). We're currently homeschooling thru an online charter school that is more of a classical education, and it assigns the families licensed teachers to assist. It has worked quite well for us:

Again, thanks for your comments, and hope to 'hear' from you again! :)

lucy said...

hi-- i have come back to this post and its comments about three times now. each time i felt my heart rate rising and slowing down as i read through the words. i found myself hearing judgment and thus feeling judgmental myself. i felt my heart breaking for the children as well as the parents. i saw my own story from a multitude of views.

what i have come up with (inadequate as it may be) is the premise that each person does bring their own story into how they view life. some parents are considered wise because their children are well-behaved. others are considered negligent because their child does not conform to expected standards. are they more wise or just fortunate? are they negligent or are they struggling from wounds we cannot see? i cannot answer these questions, because i have not walked in their shoes. can i love them...the children, the parents, the i believe i am called to do? i hope so and know that conversation and consideration keep the doors open to better understanding of what may be happening in our own and our neighbor's worlds.

i appreciate each of your comments and views.

and one last question to ponder...WHO are "the Monsters?"

His Girl Friday said...

Hi Lucy, thanks for commenting!

My post was not meant to be judgmental, as much as it was more of a rant with purpose to create discussion. My heart is also breaking for what I see, and have seen. I worked as a nurse in a juvenile custody facility for 10 years, and for the most part, I saw good kids who had made bad choices; and, given a better environment, they would possibly not be where they were. I've just heard thru a friend, of a teen who was drunk at a Halloween party in a home, passed out and was raped by another teen. I ask, where were the parents?!
My argument, or focus, in all this isn't just about children behaving badly, this is about our next generation, our future. Children need to be taught with rights, comes responsibility, and poor choices can lead to bad consequences not only for yourself, but for others. The adults/parents need to be in charge and give guidance to the younger generation...not ignore them, not coddle them, not to make them fit a mold, but to enjoy and encourage their individuality, their gifts, encourage their dreams, and to remind them that for the 'collective good' , they also have responsibilities (to put it briefly, as in, it's not always 'about them and what they want').

I like your: " the premise that each person does bring their own story into how they view life. some parents are considered wise because their children are well-behaved. others are considered negligent because their child does not conform to expected standards. are they more wise or just fortunate?" It's a great question! Thomas Edison was kicked out of school because of his 'bad behavior' and his teacher thought him un- teachable; thankfully his mother saw different and homeschooled him. On a side note, there are many who are labeled ADHD, but I honestly think this is just an untapped, or misunderstood, resource of thinkers and doers. I stumbled upon a great site, and hope to find it again, to share, but it talked about ADHD as being a gift to be explored, not to be medicated away, and cause a person shame for 'not behaving'/fitting in.

As to your question 'who are the monsters?' ....whew, that could be a whole other post!! a quick thought: monsters, to me, are children and adults whose focus is soley on what their rights and entitlements are, without thought to responsibilty, even at the expense of others.
The blogger at SleepyBearHollow has some interesting insights in his Death of Character series, perhaps worth a read:

storyteller said...

Ah -- one of the most difficult things about this kind of conversation is how easy it is to misunderstand others (and be misunderstood ourselves) because words have an uncomfortable way of tapping into our emotional baggage. This may be one reason why the important things don't get discussed honestly and thoroughly more often. We don't want to offend one another and/or be seen as offensive ourselves. There are no easy answers to so many of today's problems ... yet our unique "perceptions" need expression. Everyone needs to be heard and to listen with love ... trusting that answers do emerge when we open our minds, hearts, and spirits collaboratively.

I'd saddened if anything I wrote this morning caused you pain Lucy. I'm glad you gave yourself time to collect your thoughts and returned to enrich us all by sharing your feelings and your views so authentically. And I'm glad I checked the little box that brought these comments to MY email box so I was aware of it all.

The road we each walk is unique. Each of my siblings raised two boys -- one of whom was easy, the other challenging to "parent" in each family. All four survived (thankfully) and so did their parents ... but not without a lot of heartache and pain all around. Love kept us together -- still does.

I lived my life as a teacher believing that children are not containers to be filled, but rather candles to be lit (or flickering flames to be fanned). Keeping curiosity and the love of learning alive is no small accomplishment, especially when curriculum becomes driven by what's measured on Standardized Tests rather than the interests of the kids themselves and/or the creative & critical thinking skills necessary for life but difficult to "test" by having students fill in the circle. So many of our greatest minds "failed" in the classroom -- from Audubon who loved birds so much he spent his days looking out the window to Einstein who thought of things his teachers never considered ... changing our understanding of the Universe forever ... and so many others. I don't believe their behavior disrupted the learning of others, but perhaps it did.

Don Miguel Ruiz wrote a powerful little book entitled The Four Agreements. Simple ... not necessarily easy changes ... but life altering when given a chance. As I recall they're something like:
1) Be impeccable with your word -- choose words as honestly & specifically as possible
2) Make no assumptions -- realize words have shades of meaning and tend to evoke emotional responses so be ready and willing to ask clarifying questions until you DO understand
3) Take nothing personally -- what others say is never really about YOU anyway
4) Always do your best -- recognizing your best will vary on any given day.

I'm reminded of the ideas introduced at Hearth Talks, and I'm glad to find thoughtful voices willing to engage in conversation about issues that matter. So thanks to you all. I've been enriched so far and wonder what's next. So many factors affect children (and parents) today, but as Joy so eloquently described a personal incident in a grocery store in a story about a couple she calls "The Bickersons" ...(at The Joy Of Six blog) it's hard to deny ... some people can be oblivious about the effects of their actions on others and we all have to deal with it. It takes a village.

His Girl Friday said...

Hi Storyteller,

Thanks for returning to add more of your wisdom to our lives! Your post is very nicely said! My hubby has read the Four Agreements, and has encouraged me to do so, as well. There is a quote that mirrors what you said about the pail to fill versus candle lit...will have to look for it, but you've pretty much encapsulated the idea. I've found the ADHD site I mentioned to Lucy. I hope it can encourage anyone who has it or who knows someone that does:

As I mentioned at the end of my post, there is no easy answer with the problem that is being seen with some of today's youth. Whether a person has children or not, in some way, shape or form, we are all affected by the this. (as you said, also, some people choose to be quite unaware of how much their actions affect others)
I've included a quote today, from Talking Bear, a favorite blogger and one who works with challenged youth....I think he sums up how I feel, in that, in some way, we all can be part of the solution.
Thanks again for returning, and your comment!

His Girl Friday said...

at little late, if anyone is still here reading...came across this, regarding ADHD:


Anthony Stevens said...

Good question "Are the monsters in charge?!"

Regarding “His Girl Friday’s” post regarding ADHD and the reference to

This is actually an outstanding post. I also posted there regarding labels placed on us regarding ADHD. These labels at times can be hurtful and we must take care in using them.

Regarding the posts about discipline:

Wow! These are some powerful words. How do you define “discipline” and place it into action?

dis•ci•pline n.
1. Training expected to produce a specific character or pattern of behavior, especially training that produces moral or mental improvement.
2. Controlled behavior resulting from disciplinary training; self-control.
a. Control obtained by enforcing compliance or order.
b. A systematic method to obtain obedience: a military discipline.
c. A state of order based on submission to rules and authority: a teacher who demanded discipline in the classroom.
4. Punishment intended to correct or train.
5. A set of rules or methods, as those regulating the practice of a church or monastic order.
6. A branch of knowledge or teaching.

I question what some have said. I am not so sure that children want discipline, I do believe they like the boundaries set by those that they care for and care for them because they want acceptance, they crave acceptance. How we define it might be different, but you can read how I read it. I don’t like to be “disciplined” as it might be used here, now, nor have I ever. I believe children want acceptance like I did, and will do what is necessary to get it. If only bad behavior gets them acknowledgement that is what they do to get it. The way that it is said here only makes me think of my own childhood with my mother slapping me or my grandmother telling me to go into the backyard and get a switch so she could beat me with it. I remember few days before I was 14 that I was not “disciplined” with words, or a hand, belt, or switch; and I have scars on my flesh to show it. I have had multiple elementary school teachers beat me in front of the class. Nice school, huh? It wasn’t just me either, there were others too. You can take discipline and keep it. Discipline on children is what we use on when there is nothing more that we feel we can do, we are out of ideas.
Discipline on us children is:
can mentally hurting,
can be physically hurting, and
the last resort

This has been quite an emotional blog. I think I will go sit in a quiet place for awhile.

His Girl Friday said...

Hi Anthony,
Thanks for commenting!

First, I want to thank you for sharing some of your apparently uncomfortable memories, It takes a lot of courage to share such things, and is never easy. It does serve to bring attention to the way Not to treat a child. I wonder how many children may suffer from forms of PTSD from this type of treatment?
Children do want acceptance, or rather, do not want to be rejected. To me, the definition of discipline is this: Discipline gives guide lines, with explanation; and, always with love even when giving the consequences when rules have been broken. With loving discipline, lessons are learned with a positive outcome of changed behavior. It is the behavior that is addressed as being less than, never the child. In other words, the Child is Always accepted, the behavior is not, and the child is made to understand the difference. Disciplining for better behavior and self control gives the child a message that they are valued, in that because I care, I will take the time to help you better yourself.
Punishment is associating the bad behavior with the person, thus equating bad behavior bad person, and punishment usually is done in anger or out of fear. It is how I see the 'discipline' that you mentioned of your childhood. This is where hearts and spirits are broken, or made bitter. :(
The following is a good post that discusses reacting out of fear versus reacting out of love:

Thanks again for sharing, and I hope you are feeling better! :)

Ps SleepyBearHollow has another post on ADHD:

Fuchsia Girl said...

Oh very well said HGF - so succinct and true but said with so much compassion and understanding. I concur with everything you have written about discipline in your post to Anthony. It is a sad reminder that there are many children and young people out there who have suffered unnecessasrily at the hands of abusive parents and other adults.

As a former Police Officer with over 12 years service (several in the Family Service Unit dealing with domestic violence and child protection issues) I fully appreciate Anthony's viewpoint and I wish him well.

Anonymous said...

Interesting metaphor used in the post by “Talking Bear” referenced by “His Girl Friday” on 5 November 2007. I read the reference post.

I want to comment about labels. It is not how we are; it is what we do with the attributes and abilities that we have. If we let ADD or ADHD, which are labels applied to us by others to control us, shame on us. If we use those abilities to work for us, then shame on those that label us. How dare they!

I consider the original post in this blog right on target. Although, I don't like to use the term diagnose for what I believe is a normal part of human development. I know the mental health community wants to label people, but I want to believe that it is a normal part of some of us. Some of us are this way and some are another. Neither is wrong or right, just different. Not all of us can be hunters and not all of us can be gatherers, to use the metaphor used in Talking Bear’s post, but both are necessary to provide diversity for the community to survive. It is our job as parents to try and identify which of the attributes and abilities our children have and guide them in the direction that will fit best, not imposing the parent's desires, but the desires and abilities of the child grow. There are certainly some skills and attributes that are necessary for our society and some that are not.

I have found that to control my activity level I have two jobs and a long commute to work. I work a normal 40 hours per week job and have another job that is part-time and is about 24 hours per week; both jobs and a long commute. This works for me and I want it that way, I like what I do and will continue. I am not frivolous with my time and I don't like to sit in front of the TV all day. It does not control me, I control it. I provide for my family and do very well. I do the things I want to do also.

(Sarcastic) Wouldn’t have been great if my parents had forced me into a position where I had to sit at a desk with a computer each day, writing, with minimal tactile activity?
This post is actually not about me, but I can talk about myself better than I can others. This is actually about anyone that desires the activity level that I seek to satisfy. I won’t be labeled and do not wish to label others.
Talking Bear found an excellent reference.

Anthony Stevens said...


The last post was mine. Not anonymous.

Talking Bear said...

Anthony, What do you think, or how do you feel about positive labels? I have found that most of us respond well to being called "winner","hero","tiger", champ", and so on. In fact when we are give a positive label that is bigger than our self concept, we tend to try and live up to it. I agree 100% about negative labels, because we will try and live up to them as well, but that is not a good thing.

HGF, what a great conversation you have going over here. Thanks for the link to my stuff. You are a sweetheart of a lady. TB

His Girl Friday said...

Hi all,
thanks for your comments, all very well said! I really appreciate your contributions!! :)
You've given me something to think about!! :)

Soaring Eagle said...

What Talking Bear says is true. Anecdotal evidence and studies show that labels can mark the path of individuals permanently. I work with youth and at times they are referred to as “nasties”. As the class has progressed, some of the youth have used the term also. By the end of the class all or part of the students will most likely consider themselves to be “nasties”, whatever that happens to be. Refer to the famous studies of the past when school classes have been switched; good students were assigned to the lower achieving class and told they were low achievers, and the lesser achieving class assigned to the high achiever class and they were told they were high achievers. All of the students took on the roles for the type of student that they were told they were. The high achievers achieved less, and the lower achievers achieved more. They became what they were labeled. Proper labels will work wonders in increasing productivity and self-esteem.

Anthony Stevens said...

Talking Bear, I found that you have a blog too, and that you have an article about labels ( I like and what Linda C. said regarding "Dad" and want to make that kind of comparison to the term that you used above. Those terms are applied by others in a positive aspect so I want to consider them at titles won and earned. I will save the term "label" for darker issues. Doctors label us as ADD or ADHD in a negative manner. I can be "titled" Dad, Doctor, Sailor, Marine, Soldier, Airman, Engineer, Winner, Hero, Tiger, Champ (don't forget to capitalize, it is important here, these are titles). I am not being a stickler for grammar, but not using a capital is making the term a label, not a title.

Soaring Eagle states, “I work with youth and at times they are referred to as “nasties” and that “By the end of the class all or part of the students will most likely consider themselves to be “nasties”, whatever that happens to be. It is unfortunate the Soaring Eagle has to work with a school system that allows calling students names when attending their classes. Is this not psychological abuse? Soaring Eagle should have the guts to find a safe way to provide this information to the appropriate staff personnel and stop this dehumanizing conduct by the teaching staff. I understand what you are talking about Soaring Eagle and hope you the best countering such negative teaching skills.

Fuchsia Girl said, “It is a sad reminder that there are many children and young people out there who have suffered unnecessarily at the hands of abusive parents and other adults.” Yes it is and it appear that in our teaching systems it is used too often; refer to Soaring Eagle.

PJ said, “I totally agree with your comments His Girl Friday. Much of the problems Society faces today can be directly attributed to a lack of respect, whether that be for people or property. This respect must be taught within the home by parents. This is not, as many think, a school based responsibility.” I believe your are right PJ, but look at what the teacher are doing; refer to Soaring Eagle’s comments.

Talking Bear, I am going to also post this on your blog regarding labels. I see that you have taken up this discussion on your blog too.