America’s children are immersed in a culture of disrespect: for parents, teachers, and one another.
Source: Physician: American Children ‘Immersed in a Culture of Disrespect’ | Intellectual Takeout
“America’s children are immersed in a culture of disrespect: for parents, teachers, and one another. They learn it from television, even on the Disney Channel, where parents are portrayed as clueless, out-of-touch or absent [fathers, in particular]. They learn it from celebrities or the Internet. They learn it from social media. They teach it to one another. They wear T-shirts emblazoned with slogans like ‘I’m not shy. I just don’t like you.’”
– Dr. Leonard Sax
This is, I am quite convinced, one of – not the only, but one of – the factors leading to the kind of society in which incidents such as mass murder at schools or other locations is even thinkable. Dr. Sax sites the example of Kyle, one of his patients:
“Kyle was absorbed in a videogame on his cellphone, so I asked his mom, ‘How long has Kyle had a stomach ache?’ Mom said, ‘I’m thinking it’s been about two days.’ Then Kyle replied, ‘Shut up, mom. You don’t know what you’re talking about.’ And he gave a snorty laugh, without looking up from his videogame. Kyle is 10 years old.”
There are several – interlocked – problems, here. One is that Kyle is “absorbed in a videogame on his cellphone,” at a time when he should be focusing his attention on the doctor – after all, he’s there for his own benefit! That his mother allows this is another. And that he is thus emboldened to be openly disrespectful and derogatory toward her – at all, but especially in public – is the crowning blow. And he’s not even a teenager, yet! With a start like this, what’s he going to be like when he is?
Now, does this mean that Kyle is going to become a mass-murderer? No, not necessarily. But there is some fertile soil there, for such an extreme version of acting-out. That he cares only for himself – and at that, his immediate desire for electronic gratification, even though he’s at the doctor’s because he has a stomach-ache – and neither those around him (including his mother, who presumable loves and sacrifices for him), nor even his own larger benefit, does not bode well for the future. Nor does the fact that he is dismissive and even belligerent toward those (again, including his mother) who are trying to help him.
Disrespect breeds disrespect. Self-centeredness breeds self-centeredness. And we don’t know what kind of video-game he’s playing. Is it an active-shooter game? Wouldn’t surprise me. If he’s like this at 10, what’s he going to be like at 15 or 16? If people irk him, tick him off, bully him, etc. – as inevitably happens in life – is he going to react to them in real life like his video-game character reacts to an imaginary scenario? By blowing them away? Again, no guarantees. But it’s certainly a concerning situation.
At minimum, if he’s like this at age ten, he’s not setting himself up for a very happy, pleasant, productive, or socially-adjusted life. But while I’m all about personal responsibility, I’m also realistic enough to know that a ten-year-old isn’t in a position to practice a whole lot of that, absent parental support and instruction – and discipline, if or as needed. In other words, it’s not entirely his fault: he’s been allowed, or perhaps even tacitly (if unintentionally) encouraged to adopt this attitude, by things his parent(s) have done, or not done; allowed, or even encouraged.
But the article points out that “while disrespectful children have become the norm, Dr. Sax has found that respectful, obedient children still exist out there, largely because there are still a few parents who practice authoritative parenting.” In other words, the disrespectful ones are the ones whose parents have adopted a laissez-faire, “best friend,” or disengaged model of parenting. And not only they, but society, are reaping the bitter fruits of that planting. Fortunately, solutions exist – and they are basically what many of us would call traditional parenting.
Dr. Sax suggests three basic points: 1) Put the family before the child; 2) Remove distractions, and 3) Draw a line in the sand, and don’t look back. I would say that, better than #3, don’t let it get to that point in the first place! Practice #1 and 2 from the beginning, and you may not get to the point of needing #3 – or if you do, you won’t have as much re-education to do. But in any case, as this article asks,
“Americans have tried the kinder, gentler, let-me-be-your-friend approach to parenting for the last several decades. If the behavior problems in schools and the heightened level of sensitivity on college campuses are any indication, this parenting approach hasn’t produced the positive outcomes we were hoping for. Is it time for today’s parents to reverse course and begin teaching their children to respect others first instead of their own little selves?”
I would think the answer to that question was self-evident. So I’m going to assume that it’s merely rhetorical!