COMMENTARY: Parenting Modern Kids in a Modern World

A hit number in the 1960 musical Bye Bye Birdie was a classic parent’s lament starting with, “I don’t know what’s wrong with these kids today! Why can’t they be like we were?”

The answer, of course, is they’re just like we were, but many of us aren’t like our parents were. Sometimes that’s good, often it’s not. Every generation of kids coping with raging hormones and a need to express independence and individuality will use language, wear clothes, listen to music, and dance in ways that offend their parents. And most will engage in conduct that their parents think is wrong or unwise. Should modern parents, therefore, just relax and let kids do their thing, confident that no lasting harm will come of it? I don’t think so.

Sure, we should recognize the inherent limitations of parenting and the futility and impropriety of trying to control every phase of our children’s lives, but that doesn’t justify passive or permissive parenting. Although we can’t control our kids, we can influence them. And when necessary, we can confine their options by saying no and backing it up with whatever tools we have.

Parents may disagree on where to draw the line when it comes to sloppy or sexy clothing, Internet use, loud music with crude lyrics, and body piercing and tattoos, but lines must be drawn somewhere and enforced. This is much more important regarding issues regarding alcohol, drugs, and sex. Kids need and deserve guidance and boundaries.

Our children won’t necessarily accept our views of right and wrong, but if we state them clearly and continually, they’re much more likely to consider them.

What do you think?

This is Michael Josephson reminding you that character counts.

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