When Parents Become the Kids



My wife tells me I am a contradiction in terms. I embrace modern culture (TV, Internet, satellite radio) but sound like an old man when I criticize modern trends. When I was growing up, I wanted to be like John Glenn (he was an astronaut, kiddies) or Mickey Mantle (without the drinking) or a famous screen actor. Women wanted to be teachers (see the pay these days?!), lawyers or the occasional starlet. Those were role models. Now, all young girls want to be these days are wives; ‘Mafia Wives,’ ‘Desperate Housewives,’ ‘Housewives of Orange County,’ ‘Bridezillas,’ or, just big booty singers. For every one Justice Ginsberg or Congresswoman Michelle Bachman (I’m talking politics, not ideologies here), there are 10 Snookis, seven JWoww or 15 Kate Gosselins. It’s all about the sizzle and hardly the steak. And boys? Well, Gangstas are still high on the list and bad-boy sports stars are the ones to envy. Sure...let kids be kids but one look at the parents and you see that the lessons are being tossed out and these rotten apples are not falling far from the tree. Hey...’rotten? Those are my kids you’re talking about!”

Yeah...I am talking to you. The 30-something mom with implants who have promised your nine-year-old that in four years, she too can look like you, replete with vacuous discussions with your friends about how those ‘bitchy babes’ on TV are hilarious. The problem here is you are doing nothing to label that behavior as either pure entertainment or behavior to be seen, not taken to heart.

Dads? You’re not any better. Scoping out chicks on YouTube and saying it’s acceptable by saying absolutely nothing. Boys will be boys, but you’re insuring that when they grow up, men will still be boys. Now, don’t get me wrong. Youth is wasted on the young. Let children be children. I buy that but I also believe two things: People learn what they live; and people are a product of nurture, not nature.

Now, on the positive side. I have one nephew who wants to be a lawyer, the other an actor. We have friends whose teen age kids have a great sense of what they want to be and in the midst of the fun, they have developed some fabric.

We can’t blame the liberal or right-wing media. They after all, for the most part, report on some of the idiotic things people do. The home video shows encourage people to set their butts on fire or get hit in the groin with a baseball thrown by their precocious seven-year old. After all, it’s more important to be recognized than revered. So, who do we blame? Water seeks its own level. There’s an old saying: “No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of people.”

I used to go out and play until it got dark. I didn’t sit on a couch playing video games (yeah...we had PacMan, air hockey, Sink my Battleship) and my parents didn’t use TV or the computer as a babysitter. “Hey Barry. Put down that comic book, eat an orange, join a club.”

Yes. I’m an old man sometimes, but all it takes is for one person to change the habits of a generation. We have great technological advances today because of twenty-somethings who are developing new social media platforms and people who think maybe, just maybe, there is virtue in a job that makes life a little better for someone. Might not be a bad idea to be an “Undercover Boss” in your own home and see what your familial “employees” are all about. It’s a long road ahead but ‘the journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.’ Who said that? I just did.