Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Making The Irresponsible Responsible

"He who reigns within himself and rules his passions, desires and fears is more than a king." ~ John Milton

Perhaps nothing makes us more aware of the growing problem of the irresponsibility and lack of discipline of our kids than when the kid in question is your own child.

While discussing my own son's behavior with my fiancee, she made the point that I am not as forceful in holding him accountable for his behavior as I should, and she is right. I'm not.

It is an ongoing battle for me to impose and enforce discipline on him when he needs to be disciplined. I blame myself for letting him get away with so much. I am, as she said, not firm enough.

But I am not the only one.

His mother, my ex-wife, was permissive to the point of absurdity. Her natural son, my stepson, was completely out of control when I met her. He was three years old at the time. I reluctantly accepted the role of his father even though I knew that it would eventually cause division in the marriage. I had no choice. I legally adopted him, and as his adoptive father, if I wanted the child to ever amount to anything at all, I knew he would have to be disciplined, whether she wanted him to be or not.

By the time his brother was born two years later, it had already become apparent that she was going to contradict me whenever I tried to discipline him. In spite of all the experts advice to take disagreements about the methods of discipline behind closed doors, away from the children, she disagreed with me right in front of the children, always taking the children's side against me.

It is no wonder they both grew up with so little respect for me.

Some of my regular readers know some of what has happened since then. Here is a refresher, and here.

He called me the other night from Florida. He is well, and still trying to gain a foothold in society without a support system of criminals.

His brother is a pretty good kid, overall, in spite of the fact that he is way to irresponsible for a kid his age. By this time, he should be graduating from school and be at least part time gainfully employed, but he's not. He seems to have little interest in procuring employment, getting an education, or even getting his driver's license. He is only interested in skateboarding, at which, I must say, he is very good.

At least he does have some aspirations.

He hopes to one day become a videographer or photographer specializing in skateboarding videos and photographs. He does have the talent and I support him in his pursuit of his dream. But I am concerned with his irresponsibility.

His mother no doubt had a tremendous influence during his formative years.

Lastly, I can't help but believe the public schools have contributed to this overall lack of discipline and irresponsibility. After all, my son is not the only kid around who has this problem. Many children of responsible, disciplinarian parents are also afflicted with this malady.

I don't know how it is happening, but I am convinced the schools are failing to teach children the importance of responsibility.

The schools say the parents have the responsibility to instill values in their children, and parents, to some extent, say part of that responsibility belongs to the schools.

Some leave it to the schools entirely.

I believe it should be a concerted effort between the two. The schools have our kids for much of the productive hours of the day, and during those hours, the parents have no control over what the teachers are teaching, or not teaching them.

What are the schools teaching our kids?

I work in an office with several young people, many of whom have graduated from high school within the last three years. Since I've been employed there, not one day have all employees been present and on time. Some one is always absent and/or late. I have never seen such irresponsibility in my life. Several have been fired for excessive absences and tardiness.

I don't know the family history of these young people but I am convinced the prevalence of irresponsibility in young people today cannot possibly be only the fault of inadequate parenting skills.

If it's true that the schools are failing the children, there remains the question of why?

One google search will help answer that question. Google the phrase "Parents sue school" (parentheses included), and your search will return 749 hits. Admittedly, some of the lawsuits include suits I deem necessary to keep Liberal ideology from being indoctrinated into our children's heads. But many of them are about parents who object to the schools disciplining their children.

Schools had to stop using corporal punishment long ago, due to pressure from feel good Liberal activists. Now, there are complaints about the use of suspensions and time outs.

Where will this insanity end?

It isn't entirely the schools fault that they don't instill personal responsibility and self discipline into our children. It is also a repercussion of the litigious society we live in these days.

The sad fact is the schools are simply afraid to discipline students anymore.

In the end, personal responsibility is always up to the individual, regardless of the factors that shape our personalities.

But we have to acknowledge that not holding children to accountability is certainly not helping the transition to adulthood.


The Liberal Lie The Conservative Truth said...

I understand completely. I have a now 21 year old whose mother , "my ex, " was as yours and now I am having to educate hime through the school of hard knocks. At least I am thankful that he respects me for the education.

As for the irrisponsibilty of schools it is so obvious that the proper education of a child is no longer important since teaching the various tests have become prominant to insure funding. Also the lack of discipline and a hands off approach to the same also insures that students have no desire or motivation to listen much less actually learn something even when you can find the isolated teacher who actually cares to prepare a lesson and encourage students to dig for the answers.

BB-Idaho said...

Your example is a compelling one. Regarding the causes, I would note that there have always been youngsters that range from little devils to little angels (and that will likely continue). I know several teachers and they are as frustrated as us parents. One factor that bears is the current
'me' generation: an attitude prevalent in both parents and kids.
Another factor is the amount of entertainment (CDs, IPods, text-messaging, etc) that diffuses focus for a young person. My view
of blaming schools is that they face a tough challenge; my wife retired from education recently, and I recall the day a 7th grader
was given detention. He cell-phoned his father, who called the school and said he would be there with his gun. And so, the usual
lock-down, cops and terror. What does that teach kids?

Abouna said...

Mark, This problem is very wide spread, and I found, when I was raising my boys, that the schools not only didn't teach any sort of personal responsibility, but very often the schools undermined what ever lessons that parent's taught their children at home. I can only say that I am extremely thankful that my sons turned out to be the excellent and moral men that they have, after having gone through our public school system.

I know from first hand experience, that many teachers and guidence counselors in the public schools, especially in the 1980's, were teaching middle and high school kids that they did NOT have to listen to their parents, because their parents had NO RIGHT to instill their values into their kids. The kids had the right to form their own values.

How are kids to form their own values if they don't have something to compare them to?

The schools aren't the only ones at fault, many of our churches today are failing in teaching moral values and personal responsibility, and to top all that off, a majority of parents have also ceded that responsibilty to others.

Then you have all of these TV commercials telling people how they deserve this that and the other thing, but why do they deserve every thing, what have they done to earn it?

Goat said...

My mom worked in the office and if I got swatted once at school it was twice at home. I was a trouble maker and my tail still feels the sting, a very good thing. I screwed up and was disciplined for it and never begged out. When will the idiots learn that strict discepline is a blessed thing, the child needs it to become something besides a limp noodle. Hang tough and be the best friend by being the tough friend. Good luck, you know what is right, set the law and go by it.It will help you both.

Goat said...

And you are unable to hold a job and live off unemployment and profess to be conservative. Get off your ass do the job asked of you to the best of your ability and quit whining,loser. Yes you are a loser Mark because you blame everything but yourself for your failures. I have read enough that I am going to crack the whip. I am tired of a smart man whining about his failings, so freaking what, learn from them and grow up. My momma was a sharecropper, so what, we've advanced and grown without complaint or whining. Shut up and get to work or stop professing to be a conservative.

Dan Trabue said...

Am I reading you right?! You're blaming schools for not teaching responsibility?

You want a gov't agency to assume the role of parents and teach responsibility?

No thanks. I'll teach my kids responsibility on my own. (Of course, I'll have to learn some myself, first...)

Mark said...

No, Dan you are not reading me right. I think it is a combination of inadequate parenting, schools, outside stimulus, and other factors.

Not only do I not blame the schools entirely, I offer4ed a reason why the schools have a part in failing our kids. I think it is mostly because of the numbers of frivolous lawsuits being brought against the schools by parents who don't believe in discipline.

And Goat? Who are you responding to? Certainly not me. I have a job. I am not whining about it. I do not live off unemployment, nor have I drawn unemployment except for a couple of weeks back in 2003.

And where in my post did I fail to take the blame? When I said, "...I am not as forceful in holding him accountable for his behavior as I should, and she is right. I'm not.", or when I said, " I blame myself for letting him get away with so much. I am, as she said, not firm enough."?

Do you have kidds, Goat? (LOL I just read that. That's funny.)

You know, it's easy to say kids should be disciplined, but much harder to do it. That's why parents are always saying "this hurts me more than it hurts you." It really does.

If you were responding to me...well, you have a right to your opinions even if they are based on false assumptions. You seem to like to give advice. How are you at taking it? Here's some advice for you:

Learn how to punctuate properly and your writing will be easier to read.

Marshall Art said...

There is always the pull within between being a parent for the kid or being his friend. The former is far more important. It must be primary and friendship secondary. It can be done and I believe in most cases, the kids are grateful. At least they are later, not so much when you're actually parenting. I was fortunate that my wife's girls were intent on doing well and living up to their mother's (and mine, for that matter) expectations. They didn't want to be in trouble. Couldn't stand the notion. Now, the daughter we had together bears the same general attitude. I say general because she's far more assertive than her older sisters. To say that I am always on call to be the disciplinarian is an understatement. Yet, there's still plenty of opportunity to be her friend. But she knows I'm Dad first. No doubt, though. Clampin' down is a bitch.

Tonto said...

I chalk it up to this whole generation of "entitlement."

Kids are conditioned somehwere somehow that they are "entitled" to their education, etc. and on THEIR own terms.

I have professor friends who cannot believe that students will call the administration at a university to complain that they had to WRITE notes because the professor didn't update the website with the powerpoint presentation giving them his entire lecture before class forcing the student to COME to class!! the students feel they are paying for their degree so they want it THEIR WAY. It is no longer a privilege to learn or go to school, but entitled to it.

"Entitlement syndrome" is now an epidemic in schools.

mudkitty said...

"Kids! What's that matter with kids today!"

"Why can't they be like we were? Perfect in every way. What's the matter with kids tooooodaaaaay!"

Kids, with their fashion and their music!

Mark said...

LOL! Exactly, Mudkitty. I knew eventually we would agree on something!

mudkitty said...

All I know is those dang kids better "Git Off My Lawn!"

mudkitty said...

Yeah, Mark, but some folks are too young to get the reference...LOL. And that's what's that matter with kids today! They are too damn young!