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Monday, October 03, 2011


We just celebrated my granddaughter's 3rd birthday. This post is not about her. It's just that she got me to thinking. How different will be her world from mine?

We grew up trained to respect our elders. I wasn't allowed to refer to adults by their first names, but by "Mr." and "Mrs." followed by their last names. It's a habit I haven't been quite able to break even now that I'm old. Kids are no longer taught this value.

Mine was probably the last generation taught to respect authority. Sadly, my generation is likely responsible for the end of that era with our "question authority" mantra. The version of "question authority" that I was allowed was with respect rather than defiance. One wise person told me, "If parents don't make their kids obey, someone else will." It could be a lost job for defiance or time in jail for disrespecting authority, or a number of other unpleasant possibilities, but our children are not benefited by our abrogating our responsibility to teach them respect for authority.

My generation grew up with corporal punishment. Later generations had "time outs". When tempted to do something wrong, we would say, "No way! My mom would kill me!" They would say, "Oh, no, I might have to sit down for awhile and think about it." It just doesn't work the same.

It seems like each generation gets knowledge earlier and maturity later. My parents loaded me with sufficient responsibility so that when I was 17 I shared the driving of the family RV on a cross-country trip. Estimates now are that kids today don't reach adulthood until their late 20's to early 30's.

Earlier generations were taught another form of personal responsibility. We understood that sex outside of marriage carried certain risks. Get a girl pregnant, and the only option is to marry her. You "did the right thing". That was the phrase. And, of course, if you had no interest in marrying her, you didn't engage in that activity. Those who did were not considered "cool". They were the bad kids. Not anymore. Sexual restraint, waiting for marriage, delayed gratification, these things are no longer of any value.

When we were younger, there we didn't know many kids from "broken homes" -- divorced parents. If we did, it was a sad thing. Teenage pregnancy was rare and far from acceptable. Families covered that embarrassment up. We had TV, of course, but our primary play was outdoors. We had games, of course, but the best ones were the ones we made up together with our neighborhood friends. Our social interaction was face to face.

These are just a few of the differences. There are many more. Most are not improvements. I pray for my granddaughter. It's a different world in which she is growing up. I can only trust in the Judge of all the earth to do what's right. But, hey, she is such a little cutie.


Miklós said...

This is what I like in getting older and older! : )) The growth in experience and widening of perspectives. These are great values, which I think can help to try to slow down deterioration of values, and teach next generations. In a way this was always the task, but nowadays definitely seems to be harder and harder.

Stan said...

Harder and harder? I view it as impossible and trust in the Lord to accomplish it.